Chester May Festival Day 3 | Friendly draw in Chester Cup

York Dante Festival

Day two at the Chester May Festival was a crossbar-hitting day as Witness Stand recovered EW money when second to Never So Brave but Bracken’s Laugh couldn’t reel in Capulet in the Dee Stakes.

Still, the EW return from Witness Stands’ 18/1 price covered the outlay from the rest of the day by 0.5pts, so let’s roll into the final day of the Chester May Festival.


1:30 Chester – Boardman @ 8/1 with William Hill (4 places) – 1pt EW

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In the opening contest, Boardman is trying to win this race for the first time having finished fifth in the last two renewals.

Although stall 10 does hinder his chances slightly, the last two renewals occurred on soft and good-to-soft ground, so today’s better ground is a benefit to the eight-year-old by Kingman.

Down to a mark of 94, he is three pounds below his last winning mark (which came over course and distance) and one pound below his last winning before then (which also came over course and distance).

Furthermore, this is the time of year to catch him (seven from nine in the month of May) and he’s had a preparation run at Haydock on ground too soft for him to put in a solid effort.

Jockey Phil Dennis guided him to his last success and he returns to the saddle, so he has a few things in his favour to put in a solid showing here.


3:05 Chester – Mashhoor @ 10/1 with BetVictor – 1pt EW

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Although Hamish is an absentee from the Group 2 Huxley Stakes, the contest is a wide-open betting heat and Mashhoor stands out to me at 10/1.

Johnny Murtagh’s six-year-old by Kingman hasn’t had the easiest career to date as he was late onto the scene as a two-year-old and has only raced 15 times for his age, but he seems as good as ever.

He won three races on the bounce last season, though the most notable win came in the Group 3 International Stakes at the Curragh where he beat Al Riffa by nearly five lengths while giving five pounds away.

Although that was Al Riffa’s first start of the season, the runner-up ran into Ace Impact – the subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner – in the Group 2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano and then finished a close fourth on his seasonal reappearance in the Group 1 Prix Ganay last month.

After that, Mashhoor went to the Group 2 York Stakes and ran well to finish fifth of five, though only four lengths covered the field and both Alflaila and Royal Champion franked the form in Group/Grade 1 races subsequently.

Although he finished sixth in the Group 3 Paddy Power Stakes on his last start of the season, it was his first try at 1m4f and he did the donkey work from the front, so it’s easy to forgive him for that.

With a run under his belt, Murtagh has probably brought him over to Chester for a reason and he holds an entry for the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup.

If he navigates stall eight well (he’s a natural front-runner, so he could well do this easily), he can outrun his odds.


3:40 Chester – Too Friendly @ 12/1 with William Hill (6 places) & Spirit Mixer @ 20/1 with William Hill (6 places) – 1pt EW both

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In the Chester Cup, two horses have caught my attention, the first of which is Too Friendly for James Owen.

Although the majority of his last runs have occurred over obstacles, that doesn’t hinder his chances as Metier won this race last year and he had a similar profile.

As for Too Friendly, he gets in here off a Flat mark of 89 having won snugly at Kempton two starts ago, though his form over jumps shows he is clearly a good horse.

As a juvenile, he was fifth in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle behind Brazil and Gaelic Warrior and this season he finished just under three lengths behind Rubaud in a Listed hurdle over two miles.

Rubaud ran into both Constitution Hill and Lossiemouth after that, so the form looks strong.

His profile is an interesting one, though so is the profile of Spirit Mixer for the in-form Andrew Balding stable.

By Frankel out of a Dubawi mare, he finished second to Trueshan in the Northumberland Plate in 2022 off a mark of 97, so his rating of 94 (and Callum Hutchinson’s three-pound claim) make him well-handicapped here.

He’s had a few issues during his career, but a return to better ground will help and one can imagine this had been a plan.


4:50 Chester – Chillhi @ 3/1 with BetVictor – 2pt Win

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In the penultimate race, Chillhi has plenty in his favour at a course he has previous form at.

The four-year-old had a decent juvenile season in 2022 as he won snugly twice and then ran in the hot £100,000 British EBF 2YO Series Final in October 2022.

That race produced Streets Of Gold (rated 105), Legend Of Xanadu (rated 98), and Shouldvebeenaring (rated 112).

As for his three-year-old season, his luck ran out, but most of his runs occurred in Class 3 and Class 2 contests, so today’s Class 4 assignment will be a welcome drop in grade.

The one time he did contest a Class 4 came over the same course and distance as today from stall six; he made up plenty of ground that day, so the task of stall one is welcomed.

Finally, his current rating of 78 is eight pounds lower than that day and William Pyle takes off three pounds, making him well-handicapped.

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