Our racing expert Ben Linfoot previews day one of Chester's May Meeting and he has value bets in both the sprint handicap and the Cheshire Oaks.
Recommended Bets: Chester May Meeting, Day One
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It’s day one of the Chester May Meeting on Wednesday, but plenty of rain is forecast in the morning and right through the first day meaning a going change is entirely possible.
The track are predicting eight millimetres on the BHA site but it could be more and with the ground currently ‘Good’ it’ll possibly be enough to turn conditions on the soft side.
It’s guesswork, as ever, but I’m certainly happy to factor the possibility into my calculations and it could have a bearing on the Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks at 2.25.
Manuel De Vega is an exciting filly for Ralph Beckett and she’s likely to benefit from any softening of the ground, but she does have a 3lb penalty to carry and that could be enough to deny her victory on her first start of the campaign.
Aidan O’Brien’s Secret Thoughts has had a run, when beaten into fifth at Leopardstown, and while that was an encouraging performance it’s unlikely soft ground will prove to be her optimum conditions being a daughter of War Front.
Those two head the betting and propping them up are two choicely-bred John Gosden-trained fillies by Sea The Stars (Fanny Logan) and Frankel (Mehdaayih), but neither of those are proven on softer ground, either, even if both will likely handle it just fine.
Grace And Danger is proven on soft ground after her win at Nottingham and trainer Andrew Balding won the same race with Horseplay, a filly that then went onto win an Oaks trial when landing the Pretty Polly at Newmarket at three.
She could go well, but at a bigger price VIVID DIAMOND appeals as the value play in the race at 14/1 (General) for Mark Johnston.
Her neck second to Blue Gardenia in the Listed Montrose Fillies’ Stakes at Newmarket in November (on soft) is one of the best pieces of form on offer in this and she traded at 1.32 in-running on Betfair in that contest when leading a furlong out.
The daughter of Cape Cross finished her race well despite defeat, the winner challenging away from her up the middle of the track, and she’s drawn well in four here to attack from a prominent position under Franny Norton.
The step up in trip to a mile-and-a-half looks a positive – her dam won over the distance – and while she may well lack the class of one or two of those above her in the betting, I doubt she’ll lack for stamina and that could be a pre-requisite on Wednesday.
Johnston and Norton have teamed up to win the Cheshire Oaks once before and the Middleham trainer certainly knows what he is doing with progeny of Cape Cross around here (he’s won eight races from 28 at a healthy 28.57 per cent).
Finally, the Boodles Diamond Handicap looks the other race to have a go at on Wednesday, even if a few in-form sprinters head the betting.
Top Breeze is up another 6lb after his Newmarket win, while Leodis Dream went up 4lb for his narrow success at Sandown in which he finished less than a length ahead of RECON MISSION (10/1 General).
Tony Carroll’s new recruit gets a 2lb pull at the weights for that narrow defeat and the forecast rain is very much in his favour as he was a heavy ground winner in Ireland.
He won a Fairyhouse handicap by three lengths last September and acquitted himself well in Listed company after that, while the aforementioned stable debut at Sandown was really promising.
His dam is a half-sister to Maarek, so there’s class in his pedigree, and he could well be a sprinter to follow, especially when the rain gets in the ground.
He showed early speed at Sandown and found plenty for pressure in a good handicap, so it is with hope the excellent Tom Marquand can bounce him out and get a prominent position from stall eight in this.
The big danger is Angel Alexander from stall two for Tom Dascombe.
His maiden form looks good and he could be well treated off 81 for his handicap debut, with jockey Jane Elliott likely to go hard from the front from her good starting berth.
He could well be the answer, but he’s been well found in the market already and the hope is that he and Top Breeze set things up nicely for Recon Mission, who gets further and will hopefully be sitting just off them.
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 and Ireland. Running total: +332.69pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 BST on 07/05/19.