After Guineas weekend the new flat season is now well and truly in full flight and well done to Aidan O'Brien who notched the Classic double for the second time in his career, and with both his winners now well-fancied for the Derby, Oaks and St Leger there are already quotes of 7/2 on Ballydoyle landing all five British Classics.
This week the focus moves north and to the Chester May Meeting, which gets underway on Wednesday. We all know the Hills stable love to have winners at the track, and especially over this week, so keep anything they send to post on your side, while it goes without saying around the tight turns of the Roodee those drawn low tend to have a distinct advantage - more so over the sprint trips.
Plenty more Classic clues to take in with the Dee Stakes, Cheshire Oaks and Chester Vase, while with the in-form Aidan O'Brien currently having track stats that read 8 winners from his last 20 runners (40%) then anything they send over should also be noted - They've won 3 of the last 4 runnings of Wednesday's Cheshire Oaks, three of the last six renewals of Thursday's Chester Vase and two of the last 7 runnings of Friday's Dee Stakes.
However, the meetings feature contest is always the ultra-competitive Chester Cup, run over 2m2f on the opening day. Being over one of the longer trips on the flat then the race always attracts plenty of interest from those trainers better known for their jumpers - backed up with Overturn, this year's Champion Hurdle runner-up, landing the prize 12 months ago.
Donald McCain's 8 year-old is well-fancied to follow-up last year's victory, and with Top Cees, Rainbow High and Anak Pekan all repeat winners of this race in recent years then he's sure to have a lot of supporters. His front running style around this tight track is also a huge asset, however, it's worth pointing out that he's rated 7lbs higher from his win a year ago (carries 11lbs more), while if you like your trends (and this can often be a race that throws up plenty of repeating stats) then since 1975 we've only seen two horses aged 8 or older land this handicap.
Here are some other factors to look out for..........
Form: Don't be too put off if your fancy heads into this race off the back of a poor run. 80% of the last 10 winners were unplaced in their latest outing, while only one of the last 10 won their previous race.
Age: I've already touched on the age with only two horses aged 8 or older winning since 1975, but it's the 5, 6 and 7 year-olds that have held sway in recent years with 8 of the last 10 winners fitting that age bracket.
UK-Trained: We've seen the odd fancied runner come over from Ireland in recent years, but it's generally a race that goes to a UK-based handler - All of the last 10 runnings followed that trend.
Favourites: We have seen two market leaders win in the last 8 years, but in general the favourites have struggled with only four obliging for punters since 1975, while it could pay to know that 50% of the last 10 favourites actually finished unplaced.
Draw: Many will feel that because this race is over 2m2f then the draw doesn't come into it. Well, yes and no really. We have seen a few winners hail from stalls 15 and 16 in recent years, but with 7 of the last 10 coming from stall 7 or lower then if this trend is to be repeated then we've just narrowed the field down to seven runners!
Betting: Yes, it's not been a great race overall for the favourite, and, true, we've seen 33/1 and 28/1 winners in the last 6 years. That said, 6 of the last 10 did return 9/1 or shorter in the betting, suggesting that it could pay to concentrate on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th favourites in the market.
Trip: Being run around the tight turns of Chester and over 2m2f then the winner will certainly need to have speed and stamina on their side, but it's worth noting that of those two qualities stamina might just hold sway with 7 of the last 10 winners having won over at least 2m before on the flat.
Weight: Being a handicap then it's always worth seeing how much weight your fancy has been burdened with, but with 8 of the last 10 winners lumping 9-2 or less to victory then this is another key trend for last year's winner, Overturn, to defy.
Course Form: Being a unique track then having won a race at Chester before is certainly an advantage with 3 of the last 10 backing this up.
You may like to focus on some trends more than others, but if you apply the above key stats then there are four horses that standout - Never Can Tell, Dazinski and the reserves Shubaat and Activate.
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