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Chester Cup Preview: The Duke Can Become A King Of The Turf

The Chester Cup is one of the major highlights of the Boodles Chester May Festival, which takes place on Friday.
ITV Racing Preview Newmarket And Goodwood

As mentioned in my Chester cheat sheet, having a low draw can often be seen as a positive. However, in recent years, high draws have been the place to be, with the lowest drawn winner coming from Stall 6 in 2018.

At the time of writing, we don’t know the draw, which will make it tricky, but I am going to give you my shortlist in what looks like a strong renewal.

The current favourite is Grand Providence for Andrew Balding. She looks to have a very good chance after she progressed rapidly last year in some decent handicaps. We last saw her finishing third at Newbury on her seasonal return over 2m where she caught the eye in the closing stages.

The extra couple of furlongs of this 2m2f trip should suit her, and she looks like a filly that will be progressive in valuable staying handicaps this year. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she still proved to be better than her mark of 90.

Andrew Balding could have another lively chance with Aztec Empire. I followed him off a cliff last season, and he was desperately unlucky not to win at York. He’ll be returning off a mark of 92 here, which could still be workable, but I think others are better treated.

It’s interesting to see The Shunter entered here for Emmet Mullins. He won the Cesarewitch last year at Newmarket, so we know he’s more than capable of winning a race of this nature. However, my concern with him is that we’ve not seen him since last year. I think he’s a horse that needs a recent run, and that would be a negative, in my opinion. 

Duke Of Oxford is a horse I am keen on transferring his all-weather form to the turf this season, but the market hasn’t missed him. I was hoping he’d be bigger than 16/1, but we won’t be getting that here. He’s been really progressive on all-weather, and he was a big eye-catcher on All-Weather Finals Day at Newcastle behind Prydwen, when nothing came off the pace. 

The son of Kingman has had a couple of runs on the turf, but he has never been able to land a blow. On the other hand, I think he had excuses for those runs. I suspect he’s a horse who wants better ground, looking at his pedigree, so if the rain stays away, he’ll be on the shortlist.

Elsewhere, one horse that could go under the radar that’s worth a second look is Too Friendly for James Owen. The son of Camelot has been campaigned mostly over jumps so far in his career and has only had a handful of runs on the Flat. However, he did win on the Flat back in March at Kempton, and he could have untapped potential off his mark of 89.

Furthermore, Jumps trainers such as Harry Fry, Nicky Henderson, and David Pipe have all won this race since 2010, so jumpers can win. With the ground looking like it’s going to be good-to-soft at worst this week, I have a feeling the six-year-old gelding can run a big race.

The Chester Cup is always a great betting race so good luck whichever you decide to play and please remember to gamble responsibly!

My Chester Cup Shortlist 

Grand Providence 13/2  (Andrew Balding)

Duke Of Oxford 10/1 (Michael Bell)

Too Friendly 14/1 (James Owen)

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