The Chester Cup, first run in 1824, takes place on Friday 11th May and is the highlight of the Chester May Festival. It is a Class Two Heritage Handicap, run over 2 miles, 2 furlongs and 147 yards and in recent years horses that have been running over hurdles and are trained by a predominantly National Hunt stable have fared extremely well.
Here are some trends and statistics based on the last ten renewals of the race:
Recent Chester Cup Winners
2017 – Montaly (16/1) 2016 – No Heretic (11/1) 2015 – Trip To Paris (10/1) 2014 – Suegioo (10/1) 2013 – Address Unknown (12/1) 2012 – Il De Re (10/1) 2011 – Overturn (11/2) 2010 – Mamlook (7/1 fav) 2009 – Daraahem (7/1) 2008 – Bulwark (33/1) 2007.
Age Trends (winners-placed-runners)
Six-year-olds have had a decent time of it in recent years. Only two seven-year-olds have won the race in the last twenty years.
9st 7lb or more: 0-4-17
9st to 9st 6lb: 5-14-68
8st 7lb to 8st 13lb: 5-11-71
8st to 8st 6lb: 0-1-12
Nine of the last ten winners carried a weight between 8st 9lb to 9st 4lb.
7/10 had won a Class Two race or higher.
7/10 had won a race over 2m+.
8/10 were having their first flat start of the season.
6/10 had their last run in April.
4/10 had previously finished in the first four in a race at Chester.
Despite being run over a distance of 2m2f the draw plays a big part – mainly due to Chester being one of the tightest tracks in Great Britain. Horses drawn low have always held sway at Chester meaning they can save ground and get good positions in the race – 10 of the last 15 winners were drawn from stall seven or below.
Fate Of The Favourites
Despite the market leaders having a poor win record a fair few of them have placed, with 8 of the last 15 favourites making the frame.
Official Ratings (winners-placed-runners)
100 or higher: 0-9-38
90 to 99: 10-16-105
89 or lower: 0-5-25
The last ten winners were officially rated 93 to 99.
There are no strong trends on the prices, the last ten winners were sent off at odds of between 11/2 to 16/1.
Richard Fahey has a fine record in this saddling seven placed runners as well as the winner in 2007, first tow home in 2013, runner-up in 2014 and 4th in 2015 & 2016.
Donald McCain trained the winner in 2011 & 2012.
Dermot Weld has been knocking on the door in recent years.
Mark Johnston has had plenty of runners in the frame but no recent winners.
Dr Marwan Koukash has owned three of the last 9 winners
The race has seen repeat winners three times since 1997
Since 1975 there have only been three winners aged 8 years-old
Since 1975 there have only been 4 winning favourites
The average winning SP in the last 15 years is 12/1.
The Main Contenders
An early season contest for staying handicappers, the Chester Cup is the target for several horses that are regular visitors to the Roodee.
Fun Mac, Magic Circle and Watersmeet all feature amongst the early declarations and will be hoping to improve on their respective 2017 runs.
Watersmeet has been raced successfully on the all- weather over the winter by trainer Mark Johnston and is a regular attendee at Chester during the summer season. Fun Mac won a valuable listed race at Maison-Lafitte last July and Magic Circle was successful at York in August.
Local trainer Donald McCain has already won the Chester Cup twice and has entered Good Tradition. McCain told reporters: “Obviously it’s a great race for the area and there’s a consolation race as well this year, so we could sneak in there, it will be good to have a runner at Chester. It’s surreal to win the Chester Cup, very satisfying and it was magic when we won the first time.”
Tom Dascombe is another local trainer and he will be represented in the race by the four-year- old Teodoro, twice a winner at Haydock Park in 2017 and also successful at Yarmouth at the tail end of last season.
Nakeeta, trained by Iain Jardine, was just touched off by a short head in the 2016 renewal. He could only finish tenth last year in the Chester Cup and but went on to land the Ebor Handicap at York in August.
Locally-owned Stargazer heads the betting at 8/1. The Phil Kirby-trained five-year-old has already proved his worth after he was snapped up cheaply from the Sir Michael Stoute stable.
Alan King’s Who Dares Wins has shown his liking for Chester in the past and he should run a big race, keeping up the fine record that National Hunt trainers tend to have in this race.
So What Will The Weather Be Like?
Early signs suggest it could be dry and sunny at the Chester for this year's Boodles May Festival with temperatures reach a high of 18 degrees on Ladies Day (Thursday, May 10).
City Day (Wednesday, May 9) and Chester Cup Day (Friday, May 11) both look good with plenty of sunshine forecast.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*