“It’s a great day, this horse is improving at a rate of noughts, he relaxes and we’re getting into the big boys league now,” explained trainer Ed Dunlop in the winners’ enclosure at the Boodles Chester May Festival meeting this afternoon after landing the valuable Betway Chester Cup with Trip To Paris.
Winning jockey Graham Lee added: “He showed a turn of foot at Kempton, that was a good performance.”
Bethelezi was the early pace setter before John Reel went on in the final half mile and the closest challengers were all being ridden. Quick Jack was living up to his name and closing but Lee brought Trip To Paris down the centre of the track with what proved to be a winning late run to grab the race by half a length.
Earlier in the afternoon a tried and tested approach from jockey Franny Norton paid dividends in the opening race, the Stellar Group Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes, of the Chester Racecourse season.
Norton was aboard the Mark Johnston trained Rah Rah. Drawn in stall two, Norton was promptly out of the stalls and steered his mount round the advantageous inside rail. The only challenger was Silver Wings who closed inside the final furlong but still had half a length to find on the line. Norton said: “She’s a nice filly and she stuck to her guns. I let her see the other horse’s eye and we had a little battle, luckily she came off best.”
Deidre Johnston added: “That is her first time on grass, we don’t really do a lot with them at home, she stayed on really well today and it’s nice to have a dream now.”
A glittering performance from the 5/4 favourite Diamondsandrubies in the Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks (for the Robert Sangster Memorial Cup) earned quotes of 10/1 from leading bookmakers for the premier fillies classic, the Epsom Oaks next month. The winner’s performance is readily summarised as missing the break, settling well and when Ryan pressed the button she went. Ryan Moore tracked the leaders before pulling his mount wide for a clear run down the straight. She shrugged off a flick across the head from a challenger to show impressive acceleration and win unopposed by six lengths.
Delighted co-owner Roisin Henry said: “We were hopeful, she’s her mother’s daughter and she’s not straightforward, she’s done better than we expected.”
Lexi’s Hero provided winner number one of the 2015 Chester Racecourse season for owner Marwan Koukash when overhauling the leaders to win the Boodles Diamond Handicap Stakes by one and a quarter lengths. Successful trainer Richard Fahey said: “It’s good to get a winner at Chester, we can keep smiling. There were five front-runners in that race which probably suited him. We’ll look for another Chester race for him now.”