Value Bet: Sue will do
Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on the opening day of Chester's May meeting.
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Two things strike me as significant in this year's StanJames.com Chester Cup.
Firstly, there looks to be a lack of early pace in the race, especially when looking at those drawn low. Clowance Estate and Open Eagle could be described as front-runners, but they are drawn out wide in stalls 15 and 16 respectively.
It would be no surprise if they managed to get to the front eventually, though relying on them doing so is dangerous if, like me, you're trying to envisage the shape of the race.
Whether the two aforementioned horses manage to lead or not, I do think there is a good chance this will be a steadily run Chester Cup and that would suit something racing prominently, with the tactical speed to cope with such a situation.
Mubaraza is the obvious one, as he's 4lb well-in following his second at Ripon and he travels very strongly in his races. He's been running well in good staying handicaps and even at his current price he is tempting.
The one thing that put me off him in such a competitive contest is the fact that he has been beaten in his last six races, all of which were handicaps, and he just keeps edging up the ratings.
He could win, but a profile like that doesn't appeal to me at the odds.
The other thing that struck me as significant in this race was the lack of older, more experienced stayers. The two oldest horses in the race are just six, with four and particularly five-year-olds dominating the field.
This means there are several horses in there that have yet to prove themselves at the trip, and, given what I mentioned before about the possibility of a steadily-run contest, I wouldn't be too concerned if you fancy a horse that hasn't proven himself over the trip, or even two miles.
Which brings me to SUEGIOO, a Marco Botti-trained five-year-old that is one of five horses in the race owned by Dr Marwan Koukash, who won the prize last year with Address Unknown.
This horse has never run further than 1m6f and on occasions he has looked like he keeps a bit for himself, even with the cheekpieces that have been fitted on his last nine starts.
However, he didn't look ungenuine when ridden positively at Thirsk by Jimmy Quinn last year, or when Martin Harley almost won on him at Haydock last September and I think he just needs some strong handling to put his best foot forward.
The booking of Ryan Moore for the first time, then, is a massive positive and from stall four I'd expect him to at least sit just off the lead, while he could even lead himself as he did when running well at Thirsk last year.
Watching that replay, he handled the fairly tight left-handed turns well, not for the first time, and that gives real hope that Chester's unique track will suit.
While not an obvious one for a two-and-a-quarter miles, he could well get away with it around Chester, especially if they don't go hell-for-leather and there is plenty of evidence of him finishing off his races over 1m6f well.
Last time, at Ripon, he did well to finish third after being held up in last and rousted along out the back over a mile-and-a-half. That course is notoriously difficult to come from off the pace and the run suggested to me he is a) fairly handicapped and b) will be seen to greater effect over further with that under his belt.
I'll be splitting stakes on him and DUKE OF CLARENCE, also owned by Dr Koukash and trained by our columnist Richard Fahey, who of course won the race last year and with Greenwich Meantime in 2007.
Like last year's winner Address Unknown, Duke Of Clarence is having his first run for the Fahey yard having being bought to go specifically for this race.
Like Suegioo he's untried over further than 1m6f, but he too has thrived at that trip, particularly when winning at Goodwood last June.
His draw in eight isn't a disaster as long as he doesn't get too far back - something I'm not unduly worried about given his record over shorter trips for Richard Hannon.
His third at Goodwood last September behind Gospel Choir looks very good in the wake of that rival's Group Two success at Newmarket on Saturday, and, given that sort of form and his connections, it's surprising to see him chalked up at such decent odds.
Finally, SIR MAXIMILIAN looks the one to be on in the Stellar Group Handicap at 3.15.
There is loads of pace in this five-furlong dash and this five-year-old has the speed to lay up just off it from stall four.
He's gone well at Chester a couple of times before, particularly when second over this trip last June, while he also won on his seasonal reappearance last campaign, which makes his absence from the track so far this year a positive.
Tim Pitt is capable of improving this horse further following his stints at Ed Dunlop's, Ian Williams' and Nicky Vaughan's and I'd expect him to progress from his Wednesday mark of 88 this summer.
1pt win Suegioo in 245 Chester
1pt win Duke Of Clarence in 245 Chester
1pt win Sir Maximilian in 315 Chester
Ben Linfoot's Value Bet Aim: The Value Bet is designed to generate long-term profit by searching for overpriced horses in the feature weekend races and at the big Festivals in the UK. Running total: +213.81pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).