Hanagan can be the man again
Ian Brindle's horse-by-horse guide to the Stanjames.com Chester Cup on the Roodee on Wednesday.
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Got the plum draw in one and looks as if he should stay given his wins over 1m6f at York and 2m at Ascot. Beaten on his three previous visits to Chester and handicapper appears reluctant to drop him down the weights at present.
Didn't seem to stay the trip in last year's Cesarewitch having travelled notably well and a lot to like about his recent effort at Kempton in first time blinkers. Possesses the ability to win a race of this nature though done very few favours by the draw.
Duke of Clarence
Makes a debut for Richard Fahey having been sold out of Richard Hannon's stable for 70,000gns. Any rain wouldn't be an issue and, while the trip is a big imponderable, the value of his third to Gospel Choir at Goodwood was given a massive boost at the weekend.
Dual winner in France prior to joining Ian Williams. Well held on his British debut at Ripon last month and supporters will be hoping that he has improved in leaps and bounds in the interim.
Three-time winner in France before winning on debut for current connections and represents a stable that are in red hot form at present. Easy to make a case for him on a solid third in the November Handicap but two modest runs on the Polytrack will need to be forgiven.
Second in the Cesarewitch Trial at Newmarket and ran way above herself to be third in the Jockey Club Bowl. Handicapper certainly noticed that effort and though Ian Williams' runners in the race are always to be respected (he won the race in 2008 with Bulwark), a 13lb rise might just be a bridge too far.
Placed in the Northumberland Plate last year and confirmed his well-being with a very positive reappearance behind Angel Gabrial at Ripon. Has the chance to turn the tables at today's weights and with a very favourable draw, it is not hard to see why he's trading at the odds he is.
Appeared a stayer in the making last season though connections rather had their hand forced with a massive rise up the handicap for a Doncaster success. Rare runner at the track for James Fanshawe and draw less of a problem to him as he is often slowly away.
Still without a win on turf though largely consistent enough in big handicaps over shorter distances. Ran a solid enough trial at Ripon on reappearance. Often held up in his races and booking of Ryan Moore definitely catches the eye.
Makes debut for Donald McCain having realised 50,000gns when sold out of Sir Michael Stoute's yard. Switched to staying trips last year and headgear back on following two races without it. Would be no surprise to see him popular given the yard's fair record in the race and and the horse's ability to race up with the pace.
Should be fit enough for this race having finished a creditable third in the big staying contest on Lingfield's Good Friday card and returns to turf off a 1lb lower mark. Can race handily though usually held up in his races so will require an inventive approach from a low draw.
Bought to be a superstar by Sir Robert Ogden and is now with Ed Dunlop having left David Simcock. Looked a serious player when landing a Kempton contest in decent fashion on first start for Dunlop but folded quickly in a stronger race next time (Clowance Estate and Shwaiman ahead) and suspicion is that he may need a little more rain to be at his best on turf.
Sold out of Roger Charlton's stable for 85,000gns following his second in the Cesarewitch and makes his first start for Jedd O'Keefe. Lightly raced and potentially open to improvement though he'll need to use a lot of petrol to tack over from a very high draw.
Creditable enough in his grade for Ian Williams but high enough in the handicap at present and a record of one turf win from 16 makes it easy for him to be opposed.
Got the better of Mubaraza at Ripon and confirmed the positive impression of two earlier runs at Lingfield and Musselburgh. This race has clearly been on the agenda for some time as the 3lb penalty accrued for that Ripon win secured his place in the field and, given that he represents the combination that won it last year, he is an obvious player if coping with a further step up in trip.
Sure to have his share of local support and ran well in the Cesarewitch before the trip found him out. Third off the same mark in last year's Northumberland Plate and not easy to discount given high proliferation of placed runners from the stable at the moment.
No better rider of the circuit than Franny Norton so surprising he's never won a Chester Cup. Needs to reverse form with Mubaraza based on an earlier meeting at Kempton though, appearing a little quirky, he shapes as if he'll stay and the Hills team have a rich history with this prize.
A typically high octane renewal with the proliferation of Dr Marwan Koukash runners creating its own puzzle for punters and commentators alike! Glenard would be a very popular winner with the locals given Franny Norton's affinity with the track and it could be that this esoteric circuit suits Charlie Hills' inmate.
Clowance Estate and Communicator look progressive enough sorts though neither have received a draw that would suit their respective styles of running so it is with a heavy heart that we reject their obvious claims in favour of those held by MUBRAZA.
This race has been won by some exceptional five-year-olds in the past (including Top Cees and Anak Pekan) and Ed Dunlop's charge looks very much to be a Cup horse of the future.