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Falcon Eight must challenge for the highest weight if last year’s winner of the Chester Cup is to keep his crown.
Dermot Weld’s charge is back on the flat after three hurdle races and faces 14 rivals in Handicap Class 2 on Friday at 3:15 p.m..
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The Grand Visir are looking to do better after coming second in last year’s renewal, while Solent Gateway, Coltrane and Cleveland also feature prominently in Paddy Power’s bets.
You will find our guide runner by runner and Chester Cup advice from Paddy’s buddies below.
Chester Cup runners
Coach: DK welding Jockey: Frankie Dettori Age: 7 Mass: 9st 12lbs To design: 6
Swept under Dettori to land last season from a lower 5-pound mark and has been in good form over hurdles this year. Audacious bid likely.
The Great Visor
Coach: Ian Williams Jockey:Jim Crowley Age: 8 Mass: 9st 4lbs To design: 14
On a long losing run (last win came at Royal Ascot in 2019) but ran a blinder behind Falcon Eight 2lbs heavier last year and surely set up for a big push after a pipe opener at Wolverhampton 4 weeks ago. Don’t reject.
Coach:Hugo Palmer Jockey:Harry Davies Age: 6 Mass: 9st 3lbs To design: 1
A really nice stay which scored again in the Ripon handicap of 2 m on the return trip a fortnight ago. The 7-pound leading plaintiff has booked and is part of a strong hand for the court. Must be feared under penalty.
Coach: Ian Williams Jockey: Alistair Rawlinson Age: 8 Mass: 9st 1lbs To design: 3
Won the Ascot Stakes for the second time last season. Better for the return and given a chance by the handicapper but not shone on the 2 previous visits to Chester.
Coach: Aidan O’Brien Jockey:Ryan Moore Age: 4 Mass: 9st 0lbs To design: ten
Won 9f Curragh Maiden in the mud in November 2020 and having missed all of last year made an encouraging return to Naas. Endurance for this much longer journey uncertain, but bred to be better than a handicapper and interesting for the best connections.
Coach: John Queally Jockey:Jamie Spencer Age: 8 Mass: 9st 0lbs To design: 5
Had a terrific 2021, winning a big pot at the Galway Festival and York Ebor Meeting (under Spencer, beat Rajinsky). This mark should be workable and it’s a likely type if it’s ready to roll.
Coach: Andrew Balding Jockey: Rob Hornby Age: 5 Mass: 8st 12lbs To design: 2
Off for a while after his terrific 3-year campaign, winning the Melrose at York, but he’s formed well on AW and a big comeback run at that distance on grass could be on the way.
It’s Good To Laugh
Coach: Jennie Chandlish Jockey:Connor Beasley Age: 5 Mass: 8st 11lbs To design: 15
Completed twice over shorter here last year before a good first campaign over hurdles (won 3 novices). Should stay level and it is interesting.
Coach: Shaun Lycett Jockey: Franny Norton Age: 8 Mass: 8st 9lbs To design: 13
Completed twice at level last year but still well held over 2m when last seen and back in a tough race with endurance to prove.
Coach: Richard John O’Brien Jockey: SP Davis Age: 6 Mass: 8st 8lbs To design: 11
Made good progress for the new yard last year, winning 4 handicaps. Maybe he needed his 2 comeback points this term, but the stamina to prove himself in class here.
Coach: Guest Rae Jockey: George Roke Age: 6 Mass: 8st 8lbs To design: 4
Ended 2021 on a high with an emphatic win in the Nottingham Class 4 2m handicap. Hit with an 8lb raise and it’s much harder on the return.
Coach: Alex Hales Jockey: John Egan Age: 8 Mass: 8st 7lbs To design: 16
Fairly useful performer under both codes, successful in the slim Newmarket 2m handicap in the fall. Held well over the hurdles starting for the new trainer 9 weeks ago though and it’s not getting any easier.
Coach:Hugo Palmer Jockey:Ben Curtis Age: 4 Mass: 8st 6lbs To design: 7
Took a 2m handicap here in style last summer and recently caught the eye in Hugo Palmer’s first run at Epsom, finishing well. Same mark now and his first try on this kind of trip, which he leaves the impression he is going to enjoy. No surprise, he has been a big mover in betting. Excellent luck.
Coach: Ian Williams Jockey: Royston Ffrench Age: 5 Mass: 8st 5lbs To design: 8
Double French winner who made an encouraging start for this yard in 2022, not seen at best behind Rajinsky in Ripon (2m) a fortnight ago. That’s a whole other test, but he might be capable of even greater effort.
Coach: Ian Williams Jockey: Ben Sanderson Age: 11 Mass: 8st 3lbs To design: 17
Lower in weight than he has been for quite a while after a long losing streak, but he would be a surprising winner when he returns.
Chester Cup Tips
Matt Chapman: I give a squeal to the lightly run French import HALIPHON for Ian Williams and Royston French. My selection tried two miles for the first time on his last outing and he showed more than a fourth-of-six finish position suggests. It looked like a race that would prove him right for that and although it’s a huge question mark if he’s good enough for a race like this, I’ll have a few pounds on either side. Draw eight should be achievable.
form of time: COLTRANE has trained well on AW, seemingly retaining all the abilities that saw him impressively win the 2020 Melrose at York. He could put an even bigger push into the locker for this kind of trip and get the vote. Solent Gateway was an eye catcher in Epsom on his return and looks dangerous. The unexposed Cleveland is to be respected for Ballydoyle, with last year’s 1-2 Falcon Eight and the Grand Visir both equally set for big runs.
Ruby Walsh: Falcon Eight won it last year from pit 10 and I’m not too concerned about his hurdles career. He is still able to run at a decent level on the flat. However, he is 5 pounds heavier than he was when he won last year. Arcadian Sunrise is also interesting, but it’s probably a stepping stone to Ascot for him. The one I landed on is CLEVELAND, who reappeared at Naas in March, finishing behind Layfayette, who has since cleared the form. Cleveland hadn’t raced since November 2020, so that was an impressive comeback. It is interesting that Aidan O’Brien decided to set the tone on the trip for the star race of the meeting, the Chester Cup.
Jason Weaver: After his first victory at the Curragh, CLEVELAND was presented as a possible Derby, but some training problems kept him away from the track for a very long time. His comeback run was great considering he got it “wrong” from a ratings standpoint and that was bound to bring him in a significant way. He’s a complete unknown on this trip but I don’t need to tell you what shape Aidan O’Brien’s side are in and he’s an intriguing runner in the featured Chester Cup where Paddy pays 5 seats.