TODAY’S Betway Chester Cup (3.10pm) is one of the highlights of the Flat season at one of the most enjoyable meetings of the calendar.
The atmosphere at Chester is always electric and I’ll certainly raise it another level if LADY KASHAAN can land the feature at a juicy 33/1 with the sponsors Betway.
The rain that has fallen means the ground is likely to be on the soft side of good and that will mean the 2m 2½f race will be a real stamina test, particularly with a number of prominent runners and the early dash to try and secure a good position on this notoriously tight track.
Lady Kashaan might have been dismissed as the rag by the bookmakers, but she has a number of things in her favour. The mare carries only 8st9lb and all her form has come over staying trips with cut in the ground.
She bolted up in the Musselburgh Gold Cup a month ago over two miles – her second win in that race – and would have found the firm ground against her at Ripon last time.
The stable is in form and, with a large number of those at a fraction of her price with more to prove at this stage, the daughter of Manduro just looks a bit of value.
Dermot Weld has his yard flying and ZAFAYAN is also worth backing at 17/2 with Betway. This dual-purpose horse has already showed smart form under both codes, finishing placed in decent maiden hurdles and making a winning return to the level recently.
All his form is on soft ground so conditions won’t be a problem for the four-year-old. Being more unexposed than most means he’ll probably be shorter come race time, but from a good draw he’s got a great chance of landing this prestigious prize.
Quick Jack has been the ante-post favourite since the entries first came out. He’s now 9/2 from Betway’s opening quote of 9/1, so he’s another where the value has slipped away.
But Tony Martin’s charge is expected to go very close under two-time Chester Cup winning jockey Richard Hughes. Since joining Martin, Quick Jack has excelled over hurdles and on the flat, and signed off last season with a close-up third in the Cesarewitch.
He ran a great race at the Cheltenham Festival, finishing in the same position and this looks to have been the target for some time.
Dr Marwan Koukash fires five darts at the contest as the owner looks for a third successive Chester Cup. Last year’s one-two Suegioo and Angel Gabrial return for more, but it might be Gabrial’s Star who goes best at 16/1.
A winner at this course previously, he’s got an inside draw in two and the ground will be perfect for Tony Hamilton’s mount. He does need to step up on previous form, but that’s not impossible and his trainer Richard Fahey has won this big pot twice in the last eight years.
Much is made about needing a low draw to be successful in the Chester Cup. Betway are refunding losing bets up to £50 as a free bet if your selection finishes second, beaten by a horse drawn 10 or above, which is great insurance.
LADY KASHAAN e/w 3.10pm Chester
ZAFAYAN 3.10pm Chester