Spud cooks his rivals to land the opener on MBNA Autumn Festival Day
Looking superb in the paddock, Spud had three advantages in the opening race on MBNA Autumn Festival Day at Chester Racecourse, the Supporting British Stallions EBF Novice Stakes. He had previous experience of the course, he was drawn in stall one and was ridden by Franny Norton. Making all the 30/100 favourite, who was unlucky not to win on his debut, drew clear of the field entering the straight and continued to extend the margin, winning, eased down by 15-lengths. Norton described the ground as heavy. Winning trainer Tom Dascombe said: “He won it really well, I’m thrilled and there’ll be a nice race in him next year.”
“I dropped him in and had to take him back, it was a pretty strong gallop early on, on the ground. He’s growing up and travelled away before picking up. He’s progressive,” explained jockey David Probert after landing the #TheMBNAteam Nursery Handicap aboard 4/1 chance Chai Chai. Magnus went wide entering the straight and looked the likely winner. Chai Chai overtook him at the two furlong pole to score by one and three quarter lengths.
Franny Norton recorded Chester Racecourse win number 10 for the season aboard Alexander M, returned at 4/1, in the Deepbridge Capital Handicap Stakes. Norton had set the pace which was run in single file in the early stages before the leader was challenged by Nathan on the inside and Native Prospect on the stands side as the runners approached the line. The winner stuck on gamely to record a winning margin of a neck from Native Prospect. Norton summarised the race saying: “He loves it round here; I think that’s his third Chester win. I was a bit wide but he didn’t mind the ground. He dug deep because they came at him from both sides.”
Explain made it clear that the ground was not an issue when landing the ESL Group Handicap Stakes by one and a half lengths. The 4/1 chance was on the rail and jockey James Sullivan pulled the horse out and challenged down the centre of the track to win gamely. “We got a bit of room by the false rail and then went for the better ground down the centre of the track. It’s his second win here and he’s improved. When we got in to position and he put the race to bed,” explained Sullivan.
The EWL Maiden Fillies’ Stakes provided an exciting finish as Gakku, who was tracking the leader Song Maker for much of the race began to close the gap between the two. Song Maker just held on valiantly to score by a neck. River Icon was two and a half lengths behind in third place. Successful jockey Phillip Makin said: “It was the ground and the distance. She was just dropping a little bit – but she won!”
Travelling easily, Key Bid looked to have unlocked the #TheMBNATeam Handicap Stakes as he led the field into the home straight, Perfect Summer had run in snatches throughout the race and was encouraged to put in a final effort by jockey Andrew Mullen. However William Cox was making up ground with Arty Campbell and switching to the middle of the course proved to beneficial as the partnership got up by a neck. The winner was sent off at 13/2.
“It was a muddled race, stop and go. We jumped slowly and then I grabbed the inside rail. He got his confidence as we passed one or two horses. He pricked his ears when he hit the front and it was all over,” said Cox.
Gentlemen Amateur Riders contested the Stardust Liverpool Handicap Stakes and a half length victory went to Dark Devil ridden by Billy Garritty, who said: “He was travelling so well that I had to let him go, probably half a furlong too soon, but I didn’t want to stop him. He won in good fashion.”
Attendance at the meeting was 7,021.
Tomorrow, Saturday, 16 September is the penultimate fixture at Chester Racecourse in 2017and the second day of the Autumn Festival meeting. Fixture dates for Chester Racecourse throughout 2018 are now available to copy into diaries here.