Chester Boodles Festival: Day 3 Preview

The final day of the 2024 Chester Boodles Festival rounds off with eight fantastic races. 

The highlights of the day include the Group 2 Huxley Stakes and the most lucrative race of the entire week, the Chester Cup.

Ahead of what is bound to be a superb day of racing, read on to discover our preview of each and every race.

Race 1: Caa Stellar Earl Grosvenor Handicap 2 (7 furlongs)

Friday’s action kicks off with a thirteen runner handicap that will take place over seven furlongs. 

Karl Burke has headed into races with several leading fancies and he is likely to saddle the favourite, Liamarty Dreams. Benefitting from a fantastic draw in Gate 2, he has won both of his starts this season and will be bidding to complete the hat trick. Clearly thriving, he will start as the horse the rest will need to beat. 

Amazingly, Dancing Magic is yet to win any of his twelve career starts but he has been keeping some illustrious company in that time. Having placed in Group company, he could be ready to finally win and looks ideally drawn in Gate 3.

Race 2: Boodles Darley Maiden Stakes (1 mile and 4 furlongs)

Just seven horses will head down to post for the Boodles Darley Maiden Stakes.

Aiden O’Brien will be hoping to finish the Festival strong and it’s likely that Ephesus will start as the heavy favourite. 

Able to finish third on debut, he was beaten by a talented stablemate on debut but did plenty of great work late on to really catch the eye. A poor start cost him victory that day and he will need to be much more alert this time around. 

Mr Hampstead will be making his second start of the season and will hope to improve on his fourth place finish last time out. Taking a step up in distance today, it looks like the extra two furlongs should suit. A smooth traveller, look for him to finish really strongly.

Race 2

Race 3: Free Bet Friday Handicap (1 mile and 2 furlongs)

The competitive action continues in the third race of the day with nine horses heading down to post.

Set to start as the favourite is the Karl Burke trained Bolster. 

Having moved from the Simon Crisford stable earlier this season, Bolster made a winning start for his new trainer when battling hard to win a similar contest at Pontefract a few weeks ago. 

Looking to build off that performance here, he should go close once more. 

Botanical will be making his first start of the season but will be looking for the third win of his career. A consistent performer at this level, his Gate 9 placement is certainly less than ideal, but if able to break well, he has to be considered as a major contender. 

City Streak could be the value option of the race. A winner at the Festival last year, he clearly has decent form around the track and warmed up for this race nicely with a promising second on his reappearance. Drawn in Gate 1, he could massively outrun his odds.

Race 4: Huxley Stakes (1 mile and 2 furlongs)

When it comes to grading, the Huxley Stakes is the most prestigious race of the entire festival. A Group 2 contest, nine horses have been declared for this year’s renewal.

Set to start as the favourite is the Sir Michael Stoute trained Passenger. Managing to place third in last year’s Dante, he could only finish well down the field in the 2023 Derby.

Putting that disappointment behind him, he rounded off his three year old campaign with a Group 3 win at Windsor. In what will be his first start of the season, he won’t have things his own way here but he will start as a worthy favourite. 

Israr spent some of his winter in the Middle East and kicked off his UK campaign with a promising third in the Gordon Richards Stakes.

Looking like the winner for much of that race, he tied up the final furlong but will hope to last longer this time around with that race now in his legs.

Hans Andersen is a former Group 3 winner and certainly warrants respect in this line up. A lover of soft and heavy conditions, Friday’s conditions could be against him, but he is clearly talented and should still give his running.

Race 5: The Chester Cup (2 miles and 2 furlongs)

The Chester Cup is the feature race of the entire festival and is the one race that every trainer wants to win.

Raced over 2 miles, to win this race you need a fantastic blend of stamina and speed and there are many in the sixteen runner field who seem to have that in abundance.

Without doubt the most intriguing runner is the Shunter. A former winner at the Cheltenham Festival, he is a high class operator and will be making only his second ever flat start. 

Likely to stay the distance, conditions could be quicker than he is used to, but he could be worth a small play.

Grand Providence should relish the conditions. A proven operator over the distance he should give his backers a good run for their money.

If looking to back one at a price it could be worth taking a look at Falcon Eight. A veteran at 9, this will be his fourth Chester Cup but he is a former winner of the race back in 2021. 

Despite his advancing years, he captured the Group 3 Loughbrown Stakes at the end of last season and should be more than competitive here. 

Race 6: The Chester Plate Handicap (2 miles and 2 furlongs)

For those horses not quite good enough to compete in the Chester Vase, they have their own shot of glory in the Chester Plate. Raced over the same distance as the Chester Cup, seventeen horses will head down to post.

Set to jump as the favourite is the Dominic Davis trained Prince Alex. A consistent type, he kicked off his season in great style by winning comfortably at Newbury just a few weeks ago. Eased to the line that day, this extended trip could unlock even more and he has to start as the one the rest will need to beat.

If you are wanting to find some added value, then it could be worth siding with Hamsiyann. Set to make his seasonal appearance, he has been off the track since March 2023, but before his long layoff he looked like a horse going places.

A chance will have to be taken to his fitness, but if arriving ready to race he could spring the surprise.

Gary Moore is one of the best trainers of both flat and jumps horses and any time he enters a horse into a contest like this they have to be respected. He saddles Havalia who will be having his second start for Moore and the stable will have high hope that he will be able to go one place better than his narrow second last time out.

Weighted to run well, he could be one of the best options of those horses at bigger prices.

Race 6

Race 7: Horse Power Apprentice Handicap (1 mile and 4 furlongs)

Ten horses will head down to post for the penultimate race of this year’s Boodles Festival. This is a race exclusively for apprentice jockeys and the nature of these races can often throw up surprise winners.

Likely to head the market is the Order of Malta. Trained by Hugo Palmer, he has a wide draw and a losing run to overcome, but he is used to running races at this level and is never normally too far out of the places.

If you are looking to back a horse with some better recent form, then the play has to be with Tribal Wisdom. Sired by Frankel, he is yet to win a race on turf but warmed up for this contest with a solid second place finish when last seen. With that race now behind him, he could kick on again and could be one for the shortlist.

Race 8: Horse Power Apprentice Handicap 2 (1 mile and 4 furlongs)

The final race of the Boodles Festival is another race for apprentices and Giselles Defence looks likely to start as the favourite.

Having had two runs this season, he backed up his second on his seasonal reappearance with a dominating victory at Pontefract. Winning by four lengths that day, he will start as the one the rest of the field will need to beat and another big run can be expected. 

If looking for a horse at a bigger price, it could be worth taking a second look at Turner Girl. Nicely drawn in Gate 3, she arrives at Chester fresh off the back of a narrow success at Doncaster a few weeks ago. Although her margin of victory was small, she battled all the way to the line and should give her running once again.