Chester Cup Guide

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1. MAGIC CIRCLE

Declared for the Diamond Ormonde Stakes on Thursday

2. LOW SUN

T - Willie Mullins

J - Ryan Moore

Part of a growing band of runners for Willie Mullins in the colours of Rich Ricci on the flat, this six-year-old won the Cesarewitch when last seen at Newmarket in a thirty-three runner field.

Won a hurdle contest at the Galway Festival in August, but five career starts on the turf (flat) in his career has merited three victories - including a useful handicap at the Curragh in June.

Has risen 9lb from his big win at HQ in October, but does have to cope with the widest draw of all here.

Demands respect.

3. AUSTRIAN SCHOOL

T - Mark Johnston

J - Joe Fanning

Likely to go off favourite after his big win at Musselburgh on reappearance in the Queens Cup.

That victory ended a long run of near misses - finishing second or third in all of his last seven races stretching back to last June.

Should now kick on after his six-length success and looks very well treated under a 3lb penalty.

Big player.

4. MONTALY

T - Andrew Balding

J - Graham Lee

Become accustom to marathon trips for a while now, and won this race back in 2017 by a neck over Yorkidding.

Since then, he has only won once in nine starts - which was in the Lonsdale Cup of the same year over former Royal runner Dartmouth.

Last seen finishing last of eight in a Group One at Longchamp, and although dropping in grade back to a handicap, he needs to turn over a new leaf to kickstart his career again.

5. WHISKEY SOUR

T - Willie Mullins

J - Andrea Atzeni

Talented dual purpose performer, who finished second at Cork over hurdles a couple of weeks ago having finished fourth in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival behind Ch'tibello.

Back on the flat, he was last seen halfway down the field at Naas in November and never involved, but did finish a good fifth in the Ascot Stakes at the royal meeting in June.

There or thereabouts; could have a say from a reasonable start.

6. CLEONTE

T - Andrew Balding

J - Silvestre De Sousa

It's no secret to anyone that Andrew Balding and Silvestre de Sousa - in the colours of King Power have been in absolute flying form at the beginning of this season.

Cleonte has been seen once this term so far, and finished third in the Group Three Sagaro Stakes at Ascot just over a week ago.

Should come on from that run and remains ahead of the handicapper.

7. WHO DARES WINS

T - Alan King

J - Tom Marquand

Another individual happy to chop and change in between jumping obstacles and racing on the flat.

Two starts in the last twelve months have both been on the turf, finishing third here in this race last year before third to Coeur Blimey and Coeur De Lion at Newbury in a decent handicap.

Prior to that he was a good fifth to Delta Work in the Pertemps Final before third to Jester Jet in a Grade Three contest.

Worthy participant in this, and will stay every yard on rain softened ground.

8. CLIFFS OF DOONEEN

T - Ralph Beckett

J - Harry Bentley

Former Ballydoyle in mate now applying his trade for Ralph Beckett, and remains very lightly raced.

Winner of a maiden on his first start on the track in Ireland, he beat a top Willie Mullins mare called True Self, who bolted up at Bath last year in a Listed race and is one to watch this year.

Cliffs Of Dooneen was fifth on stable debut at Kempton on the all-weather, but was on the receiving end of significant pace bias.

9. MAKING MIRACLES

T - Mark Johnston

J - Franny Norton

Improved form when winning at Ripon within the last fortnight on second start of the campaign, and you would expect for more to come if overcoming stall sixteen.

Has time to be waited with here in this marathon event, and despite it being his first start at Chester around the Roodee, he has Franny Norton in charge of the steering who knows this place better than anyone.

Could string up another miracle here.

10. SPEEDO BOY

T - Ian Williams

J - James Doyle

Speedo Boy makes a much-needed return to home soil after only managing to be one rival home in two races combined at Meydan.

Has been hurdling this season, and finished seven lengths down and a good third to subsequent dual Grade One winner Champ at Newbury back in December.

Also winning at Cheltenham this term over obstacles, more importantly he finished sixth in the Cesarewitch of this mark in October.. just a bit more required on that.

11. SHABEEB

T - Ian Williams

J - Paul Hanagan

Shabeeb makes his first run in almost a year, since winning a decent handicap over 1m6f at Newmarket for former boss Roger Varian.

Now with Ian Williams, the six-year-old is fairly lightly raced for his age and might want better ground at this new staying trip.

That victory at HQ twelve months ago was his first beyond a mile-and-a-half, and may need the run to get his mind back on the job.

Used to be very talented, and hopefully still has that spark.

12. TIME TO STUDY

T - Ian Williams

J - Richard Kingscote

Ian Williams has also acquired former Mark Johnston inmate Time To Study, who has proved himself as a top stayer in the past but does have something to prove form wise.

One start this term, of which he was last and well and truly on an off day at Lingfield when behind Wissahickon in the Winter Derby Trial, of which the latter won.

He does remain well handicap given his previous arrears, and could be one of interest if bouncing up to the mark.

13. WATERSMEET

T - Mark Johnston

J - P J McDonald

The good-old grey Watersmeet is essentially a group performer on the all-weather, but has traditionally found life tough on the turf.

The eight-year-old has competed on the artificial surface in thirteen of his last sixteen races, a run stretching back to October 2017 - the three starts on the grass merited 15th of 16 at York, last of 13 at Goodwood and ninth of sixteen here in this contest last year.

Even the start before that he finished 31st of 34 in the 2017 Cesarewitch, and the quest goes onto to see whether he can switch his winning feeling from All-weather Finals Day in the Marathon Championships to the rain softened ground this time at the Roodee once more.

On the all-weather it's a big yes, however on the turf it's probably against.

14. LUCKY DEAL

T - Mark Johnston

J - John Egan

Lucky Deal has arguably been the busiest this term, with five starts already, three of which on the all-weather (providing one victory) and two back on the turf.

He returned to the grass when fourth to Austrian School in the Queens Cup at Musselburgh, and ran on well from a slow beginning.

The four-year-old was then a length down on Making Miracles at Ripon just a few days ago, but more needed in this to figure in this top handicap.

15. BUSY STREET

T - Michael Appleby

J - Alistair Rawlinson

Third of five to Philip Kirby's Stargazer on the all-weather at Newcastle on the first of April.

The result was no fool - though he has won two of his last five at lower level; one at Kempton and one at Newcastle.

This though requires a big gear change, and he might be a shade outclassed with many of these dropping down from group level.

Will need to be a big improver.

16. FUN MAC

T - Hughie Morrison

J - Charlie Bennett

Had a poor end to 2018 when out of sorts at Doncaster and at Newmarket in big runner fields, but he's reappearing at the race he has placed in the last two runnings of.

Twelve months ago, he was the closest thing to Magic Circle even though six lengths down.

His best efforts have been after a break when he goes fresh, and perhaps he can out-run his odds this time around from a very useful draw.

17. MIRSAALE

T - Keith Dalgleish

J - James Sullivan

Longest odds of all the runners at the time of writing, Mirsaale needs to improve on two poor outings in April at northern-based tracks.

He was fifth behind Making Miracles at Ripon and ninth behind Austrian School at Musselburgh - so is part of the two major bits of form going into this contest.

Third here in the Chester Plate last term, and every possibility he will prove he is better than his odds' chances suggest.

Career best needed and he is capable on a going day.

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