Action got underway at the Chester Racecourse Season Finale meeting with the Instarmac Novice Auction Stakes and front running tactics paid off the for the 10/11 favourite Ayutthaya ridden by Tom Eaves. A three length advantage entering the straight had been opened up by the winner and Eaves brought his mount down the centre of the track to maintain that position. Zatorius made up ground in the closing stages but was still two and a quarter lengths in arrears crossing the line. Eaves explained: “He’s a lovely horse and just gallops, but it’s all about next year with him. It’s probably not the ideal course for him with a big crowd, he was a bit green, but he’ll have learnt a lot.”
The #TheMBNATeam Handicap resulted in a half-length win for 16/1 chance Gabrial The Tiger as several horses fought out an exciting finish in front of the stands. Dark Devil accelerated down the centre of the course to snatch second place by a neck from Worlds His Oyster. Successful jockey Connor Murtagh said: “He was brilliant, he’s tough and was battling it out to the line. It all panned out well.”
Franny Norton was crowned top Chester Racecourse jockey for 2017 and during the afternoon rode Alexander M to a one and three quarter length victory in the Sportingbet.com Handicap Stakes. Sent off at 7/2 the three-year-old dictated the pace and was travelling easily as the race unfolded. He pulled further clear of his rivals to win eased down from top weight Al Destoor. “It was a different ball game today with a tape start but we got a gap. He loves it round here and acted on the ground. Fair play, to the horse,” said Norton.
“That was great, he’s an honest, genuine horse and Nicky (Mackay) gave him a good ride, it’s his first back since breaking his leg and first ride for me. I don’t worry about the ground too much, the horse is in the sales but we’ll have a chat with the owners and decide what to do,” said trainer Tom Dascombe in the winners’ enclosure following the Sportingbet.com Nursery Handicap. Ginbar, sent off at 4/1, raced alongside top weight Rufus King before losing his place but strode on again in the straight to score by three quarters of a length from It Don’t Come Easy.
Dascombe added: “I’m pleased to finish the season at Chester Racecourse with a winner. We’ve had lots of fun and we are always so well looked after here.”
Front running tactics paid off for the 1/2 favourite Tamih in the Boodles Maiden Handicap. Jockey Jack Mitchell rode the rail, the horse galloped to the line and recorded a winning margin of one and a half lengths from Ebqaa, with his other rivals a further 12-lengths behind. “It wasn’t a very strong race, he handled the conditions and his class saw him through,” said the winning jockey.
Top weight Marsh Pride, an 11/2 chance won the Minstrell Recruitment Fillies’ Handicap Stakes by one-length from the early pace-setter Katebird. PJ McDonald, who did the steering said: “We jumped well and got a nice position. Franny was giving me a tow early on but she’s pure guts and gallops.”
Brandon Castle, returned at 11/4, galloped to a 15-length victory in the iCompile Handicap Stakes having made all the running and was the only horse not being ridden along in the latter stages of the race. Jockey Andrew Mullen commented: “It was simple for me; he always makes the running!”
Reflecting on the 2017 season, Chief Executive Richard Thomas said: “The May meeting was a huge success. To have Enable win here, she may be the best horse ever to win at Chester Racecourse and go on to such a high level of success. We also had the Derby winner here, it was an exceptional meeting.
“It has been an ok season, though we haven’t really had a summer, with pretty good crowds. There’s lots of planning as we look ahead to next season. We’re hopeful of achieving a number of race upgrades, including the Cheshire Oaks, we’ll make a strong case. There will be rebuilding behind the Long Room to provide additional decking and cover. Plans are also in place for a new entrance from Watergate Street. There’s plenty to do during the closed season here at Chester Racecourse!”
Racing at the seasonal finale was enjoyed by a crowd of 15,275 and the impressive overall attendance for 2017 was 281,849 racegoers. The 2018 season at Chester Racecourse commences on 09 May with the three-day May Festival and tickets for all 2018 fixtures can be purchased from Wednesday, 01 November 2017. To register your interest to receive news and information about pricing, discounts and race days, click here.