Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 12:45 29/04/2014
The historic StanJames.com Chester Cup takes place a week tomorrow and now could be the best time to get involved in the 2m 2f stamina test for which 51 horses are currently entered but with a maximum permitted turnout of 17 bookmakers' current quotes of 12-1 the field will not last once the 5-day declarations are through towards the end of the week.
Strongly-fancied contenders such as Perfect Heart, Alcaeus and Ballinderry Boy may struggle to make the final line-up as there are still 25 entries handicapped to carry 8st 11lb or above making anything below that in serious risk of missing the cut. With that in mind the two horses that make plenty of appeal at best odds of 14-1 (William Hill) and 25-1 (Betvictor) respectively are Royal Irish Hussar and Duke Of Clarence.
The former was a leading fancy for this year's Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival but didn't jump well enough to get competitive while his prominent style of racing looks tailormade for the unique Chester course and the ex-Aidan O'Brien inmate could be underestimated off a mark of 98 and is sure to be spot-on for his first start on the level since last July.
No owner likes to win the Chester Cup more than Dr Marwan Koukash and the ex-Richard Hannon-trained 5-year-old Duke Of Clarence was purchased by him specifically with this race in mind and, in the care of Richard Fahey who was responsible for the 1-2 in the contest 12 months ago courtesy of Address Unknown and Ingleby Spirit, could easily go off at single figures on the day of the race based on a number of creditable runs last season, providing the step up in trip is not a problem for the grey son of Verglas.