Steve Hughes previews the biggest day of three at Chester, including the feature race of the week.
Persistent rain on Thursday ensures soft ground for the premier meeting of Chester’s year. As a result I have selections that are sure to act in testing conditions.
Chester 1.50: Ptarmigan Ridge
The softer the going the better Ptarmigan Ridge usually performs and I strongly rate his chances in the opener at Chester.
He has never raced on ground faster than good and he made strong return to the track on his first start for new handler Richard Hughes at Haydock two weeks ago. He showed his customary high cruising speed that day, before going down late on to Safe Voyage.
However he was a brilliant winner on his only previous start here on similar ground to today last autumn, barely coming off the bridle. His overall form figures on soft/heavy now reads 212 and given his low draw there is so much in his favour today.
Chester 3.35: Cleonte & Who Dares Wins
Trainers Mark Johnston, Ian Williams and Willie Mullins monopolise the declarations for the Chester Cup, but I think they might be disappointed and I like two horses here.
First choice would be Cleonte, who only ran in a Group 3 at Ascot nine days ago. However he was barely put into the race and made eyecatching headway into third in the straight. I don’t think he had too hard a race there, so ought to be ready for today, which looks the main target. He contested his first big field handicap when a highly creditable third in the Cesarewitch and will be able to save valuable ground on this continually twisting circuit by virtue of his inside draw.
Who Dares Wins deserves a big prize having come so close so often both over hurdles and on the flat. He is thoroughly genuine and won some decent pots over the years, but has been fourth and third (from a bad draw) in this race for the past two seasons. He had a well deserved break over the winter having been kept away from hurdling and made a very good reappearance when third at Newbury last month that will be put him spot on for this.
1.5pts win – Ptarmigan Ridge – 1.50 Chester – 3/1 general
1pt win – Cleonte – 3.35 Chester – 6/1 Coral, Boylesports
0.5pts each-way – Who Dares Wins – 3.35 Chester – 12/1 general