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Chester day 1 preview

As we move on from Guineas weekend towards Epsom, the brilliant Chester May festival kicks into gear. I can't honestly say it's the best course for fair racing, but if you're the type who loves established trends/biases like inside draws and front runners favoured, then you'll love it. And Chester festival weeks are one hell of a party! He's too young to know about that side of Chester, but aspiring young racecaller Will Bowler has stepped up with s preview of the opening three races of the week. Follow him on Twitter, @willbowler2k12 or read more of his work, including more races than this preview, on his blog.

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Chester day 1

1.45 - Manor House Stables Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes (5f 16y - 15 run)

What a start to the meeting with fifteen two year olds flying around the Roodee. Last year, it was won by All Fur Coat from the Jo Hughes yard, and she has Marilyn Marquessa in the line up this time under Paul Hanagan. The key stat for this race is the stall the last 10 winners have started from, in chronological order: 1,1,1,5,3,2,5,5,2,4. This tells us that a low draw is a huge advantage. The top three in the racecard, and arguably the ones with the best form, Split Rock, Steventon Star and One Boy are drawn 14, 13 and 15 respectively, a near impossible mission. Therefore, I have to reluctantly rule these out. I think I have narrowed this down to two, who are drawn 5 and 8. They are Lilo Lil and Quatuor. Lilo Lil fits the profile of a winner of this, a very speedy and precocious two year old who has the 'King of Chester' on board Franny Norton. Quatuor is trained by Tom Dascombe, who's stable sponser this race. She showed plenty of zip when winning at Windsor last time out and could easily be better than what we have seen to date.

2.15 Wetherbys Bank Cheshire Oaks (1m3f79y - 11 run)

Draw isn't as important this time over this longer trip but a clean break is always a positive. It is an intriguing race with a couple of Irish runners from shrewd yards in Keeping from Ger Lyons and Salhooda from the Dermot Weld stable. Both have chances, but I think Salhooda could do with plenty of rain to enhance her chances. Charlie Hills has two runners in the shape of Premium and Reyaadah. The latter is taking a big rise in trip whereas Premium has only won a Wolverhampton maiden so far so is very difficult to gauge what we have on our hands with this particular filly. I will plump for The Lark though for Michael Bell. She won a Doncaster maiden last back end in good style, staying on strongly at the death to win going away. She has to improve, but she is owned by Lady Bamford who had incredible success with Sariska a few years ago and this filly might be just as good in time.

2.45 Stan James Chester Cup (2m2f 147y - 17 run)

A very good race with the popular dual purpose performer Countrywide Flame the likely favourite. He has a heart as big as a lion and has plenty in his favour in this race as well, with a low draw in stall 4, a lovely racing weight of eight stone nine pounds and must go very close indeed. There are a few familiar names to jumps fans as well with Jonjo O'Neill, Willie Mullins, Phillip Hobbs, David Pipe and Donald McCain with runners. Jonjo runs Tominator, a horse who never looked a natural over hurdles, was narrowly behind Countrywide Flame in the Cesarewitch last season and will be thereabouts once more. The McCain duo could figure, last years winner Ile De Re but more so Thimaar, who has flopped badly over hurdles but this former Queen's Prize winner could be perked up by a combination of blinkers, a good draw, this style of track and Graham Lee sat on his back. The final one I like is Theology for Paul Hanagan. He has only won once but that was in May and also placed in a Listed race behind Times Up in this corresponding month too. He has ran once at Chester before, when finishing third carrying top weight in a Listed handicap after meeting trouble in running. He's had one run since a long layoff which was full of promise at Kempton and at 25/1, must be worth a small each way interest.

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