Day of Doubles at 32Red Autumn Festival as Norton showed the way
Ground conditions remained unchanged for the second day of the Autumn Festival at Chester Racecourse, again being described as heavy. General Manager Andrew Morris explained: “We had 1mm of rain overnight; the main deluge went south of us. The inside rail has been moved out by three yards from the six-furlong pole to one and a half furlongs to provide fresh ground and encourage the runners to go up the centre of the track.”
Jockey Franny Norton used the change to his advantage in the opener, #theMBNAteam Handicap. He was aboard the 11/4 favourite Show Palace, the partnership eroded the advantage that early leader Desert Ace had opened up and pulled clear by one and a half lengths. “The ground is holding today, it’s tougher. He was a little bit keen to get on and I got some cover to help him relax. I knew the pace was strong and they were going to carve us up but I was in control and the others fell away. I was on a horse that loves the ground!” explained Norton.
The Innospec / EBF Stallions Novice Stakes provided Norton with his second double, following his wins on day one of the Autumn Festival. Norton kept a line round the final bend that provided him with a clear passage away from the rail and he sent the 13/8 favourite for home. Despite having her ears flat back and swishing her tail twice she kept late challenger Gabrial The Saint in his place by half a length crossing the line.
Duretto justified being sent off the 11/10 favourite in the feature race on the card, the 32Red.com Stand Cup Stakes, a race with a prize fund of £40,000. My Reward was the early leader, with the other runners closely bunched behind him. However the complexity of the race changed in the final two furlongs as Duretto switched to the inside to get a clear run and Across The Stars stayed on to occupy second place. Winning connections explained that the horse had a set back in May and the owners had been patient. The horse had been in good form at home and despite concerns about the ground, jockey Graham Lee said that he loved it.
The 32Red Casino Nursery Handicap provided trainer Tom Dascombe with his second success at the Autumn festival courtesy of the 3/1 joint favourite Porchy Party ridden by Ben Curtis, who said: “I went for the fresher ground, it’s pretty normal for the pace to hold at Chester. He likes to get some cover and come from behind.”
Dascombe added: “this horse is owned by a group which includes my pupil/assistant, Anna Hesketh. He pulled a shoe off on Wednesday and she’s done a good job putting in foot in hot water and cold water. The shoe only went back on at ten o’clock this morning. Hopefully he’ll stay in training with us next year; he’s the sort of horse that will be running round Chester every couple of weeks.”
Curtis recorded a double when riding Bahama Moon, who justified a starting price of 7/2 favourite, when scoring by two and a quarter lengths in the Ideal Recruit Handicap. The winner surged ahead, clearly handling conditions, and left his rivals toiling in his wake.
Dan Troop the 5/2 favourite landed the 32Red.com Handicap by half a length for jockey Connor Murtagh. “He’s been thriving at home and come to life after a break,” said the jockey, “the race panned out great, he’s a strong horse on the bridle and picked up,” he added. Top weight King’s Pavilion was placed second.
Christmas Parties With Horseradish Catering Handicap drew the meeting to a close. The successful horse was Kajaki, who had opened up a four and a half length advantage over St Marys at the winning post. Winning jockey Tom Eaves said: “I had a nice position in the race, he’s been second a few times and he was very game today.”
Racing was enjoyed by a crowd of 13,043 and the Sportingbet Season Finale on Saturday, 30 September is the curtain call meeting of 2017 at Chester Racecourse.
Fixture dates for Chester Racecourse throughout 2018 are now available to view on: http://www.chester-races.co.uk/coming-soon