Your Comprehensive Chester Festival Review

Also known as the Roodee, Chester Racecourse is the oldest still in use in the United Kingdom with records suggesting there has been racing there since 1539! Although it is also one of the smallest in Britain, Chester’s course is home to the annual Boodles May Festival which features the legendary Chester Cup which has been in existence for almost 200 years!


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As always, I am here today to analyse the markets and offer useful trends for three of the festival’s most important races including the main event. Here’s what’s on the menu today:

  • Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks
  • Homeserve Dee Stakes
  • 2018 Chester Cup

Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks

Wednesday, 9 May

This is a Class 1 Listed Race for 3yo fillies only and sometimes acts as a trial for the Oaks, which is one of the Five Flat Classics. This race was established in 1950 and today, it is run over 1m 3f 75 yards. It is important to note that Group race winners carry a 5-pound penalty while Listed Race winners carry 3 pounds extra.

Previous Winners

YearNameOdds (SP)
2013Banoffee9/1
2014Anipa16/1
2015Diamondsandrubies5/4
2016Somehow8/15
2017Enable2/1

Betting Trends and Information

There are ten confirmed runners in the Cheshire Oaks and Magic Wand and Kinaesthesia are the joint favourites with the rest of the field 7/1+.

  • 18/21 winners finished in the top three in their previous race.
  • 11/21 favourites have won the race.
  • 15/21 winners last ran 16-30 days before the race.
  • 16/21 winners had exactly one season run.

It is also worth noting a horse’s draw in the Cheshire Oaks. 17/21 winners have been drawn in either the first three stalls on the inside or the second and third widest stalls. No horse in stall 5, 8, or 9 has won this race in the last two decades.

Given the history of the draw in this race, it is bad news for Award Winning, Dramatically, and Kinaesthesia as they are drawn in stalls 5, 8 and 9 respectively. If we take the draw stats seriously, it means Magic Wand, Shaherezada (9/1), and Forever Together (12/1) are the most likely winners. It is a touch puzzling that Kinaesthesia is now joint favourite as she didn’t exactly stroll her way through her only race to date; a Class 5 event where she won by a short head. With a better draw, Magic Wand might be the smarter bet.

Homeserve Dee Stakes

Thursday 10 May

The Dee Stakes is one of the oldest races in Britain having been inaugurated in 1813. It is a Class 1 Listed Race run over 1m 2f 70 yards and is for 3yo colts and geldings. The event is named after the River Dee which is right beside the course and offers a wonderful view on a sunny day. It has been a Group 3 race on two separate occasions but was downgraded in 2014 even though the total prize fund is £75,000.

Previous Winners

YearNameOdds (SP)
2013Magician13/8
2014Kingfisher11/4
2015Not So Sleepy11/1
2016Virens Army12/1
2017Cliffs of Moher4/5

Betting Trends and Information

At the time of writing, there are eight entries in the race with Kenya as the 11/4 favourite on Bet365 with My Lord and Master next at 7/2. They are followed by Fortune’s Pearl at 5/1 and Finniston Farm at 11/2.

  • 19/21 winners have been in the top 4 in the betting.
  • 19/21 winners had 0-1 season run.
  • 0/21 winners were drawn in stalls 1 or 9.
  • 13/21 winners finished in the top two in their previous race.

History suggests that you avoid horses drawn in stalls 1 or 9 because it is a guaranteed failure! However, several recent renewals have had fewer than nine runners and 3/21 winners were drawn widest. King’s Proctor is in stall one which is bad news if history repeats itself; Fortune’s Pearl is drawn widest which probably reduces his chances of winning.

Rastrelli is an interesting proposition at 6/1 after a recent win at Newbury and he also has a win in Class 2 company at Newmarket last season. However, Kenya has a Class 1 win while My Lord and Master finished second in a Class 1 at Epsom in April, beaten by a head by Crossed Baton.

2018 Chester Cup

Friday, 11 May

The big event of the festival takes place at 3:35 pm on day three and will feature a maximum of 17 runners. It is run over 2m 2f 140 yards and was established in 1824. It is one of the most lucrative handicap races on the calendar as the winner receives over £92,000. The Chester Cup is also one of the hardest races to predict as all horses aged 4yo+ are allowed to enter.

Previous Winners

YearNameOdds (SP)
2013Address Unknown12/1
2014Sueqioo10/1
2015Trip to Paris10/1
2016No Heretic11/1
2017Montaly16/1

Betting Trends and Information

In what is an incredibly competitive 17-horse field, Magic Circle is the narrow 6/1 favourite with Stargazer at 13/2 and Time to Study at 15/2. The rest of the field is 8/1+.

  • Only 3/21 favourites have won the race and 9/21 winners were in the top three in the betting.
  • 20/21 winners had 0-1 season runs.
  • 18/21 winners had never won a race at a longer distance than 2m 2f 140 yards.
  • Only 3/21 winners also won their previous race.

Predicting the winner of this handicap race is a real test of your skills as there are few races harder to call. The betting market offers no clues although closer inspection shows that several of the leading contenders have ran twice or more this season; which would eliminate them from consideration if we follow the trends.

None of the 17 runners has longer odds than 40/1 and 15 are 22/1 or less! What we do know is that unsurprisingly, favourites don’t fare well in this race. If you choose to avoid the favourite Magic Circle, and remove all horses with two or more runs this season, you’re left with interesting options such as Grandee at 12/1 and My Reward at 14/1 with the latter probably offering a better chance after a good third place over 2m last time out. My Reward is also a course winner having triumphed in a Class 1 race last season.