Rooney may not score but Chester is always a winner

 

For all the delights that qualify the next three afternoons at Chester as a defining ritual of the British Turf, it must be admitted that the city's racecourse was not especially designed with rain in mind. But then nor was it obviously designed for horseracing, either, this dizzy circuit crammed between the city walls and the River Dee – and that does not stop it being a roaring success.

It will take more than soft ground, then, or the forecast of further rain, to quench the enthusiasm of the crowd today. On their agenda, after all, is one of the most venerable handicaps in the calendar, not to mention a new venture for a couple whose celebrity is a rather more contemporary phenomenon.

Thus the pristine pink-and-white silks of Mr and Mrs W Rooney make their first appearance, when a colt named Pippy lines up for the opening race. Sir Alex Ferguson traditionally indulges his squad with a day at this meeting and Michael Owen, who surpasses the Manchester United manager in his interest, has persuaded Wayne Rooney to invest in three two-year-olds trained locally by Tom Dascombe.

Owen is one of Dascombe's landlords, and they shared a breakthrough last year when Brown Panther won at Royal Ascot. Their Manor House Stables make a priority of this meeting, as evinced by sponsorship of the Lily Agnes Stakes – in which Pippy makes his debut.

By Exceed And Excel, out of a dam related to the record-breaking Goldikova, Pippy is bred to be sharp, and galloped with sufficient zest at the breeze-up sales last month to change hands for £60,000. But his lack of experience is an issue against previous winners, over a turning five furlongs.

"He's quite a nice little horse, but we're obviously throwing him in at the deep end," Dascombe said. "The draw is obviously all important, and he isn't drawn badly [in stall five]. If he doesn't win, I'm sure he'll win a maiden in the not-too-distant future."

The Rooneys have another colt, Tomway, in a maiden on tomorrow's card, while Brown Panther makes his reappearance on Friday. Now rated 116, he won a handicap on the opening day here last year off just 73, so it is safe to assume that any well treated horses in Dascombe's care will again have been primed, it at all possible, for this week.

He has not been able to muster one for the Stan James Chester Cup itself, where top billing clearly belongs to Overturn. Though Eddie Ahern admittedly made the most of a rails draw last year, with an immaculate ride from the front, his mount has since reiterated his status as one of the gamest horses in training by finishing second in the Champion Hurdle. Though top weight in theory makes things rather harder this time round, he is actually only 7lb higher in the ratings and has a reasonable draw.

That has often proved crucial even at this distance, two and a quarter miles, but it is possible that softer ground than usual may thin the field out early and cut traffic problems. It is safe to say that you would be offered much shorter odds against Harrison's Cave but for his wide draw (see Turf Account, below).

His trainer, Aidan O'Brien, also attempts to tighten his grip on the Epsom Classics through Betterbetterbetter in the Weatherbys Bank Cheshire Oaks, though Zaina's maiden form has proved very strong.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Harrison's Cave (2.35 Chester) Loves cut in the ground, unexposed at this kind of distance, and should be primed after a promising reappearance.

Next best

Noble Storm (4.15 Chester) Has the early speed to exploit a low draw here and proven on soft, too.

One to watch

Terdaad (Saeed Bin Suroor) Needed only one more stride on his comeback at Kempton on Monday, the winner having stolen a march.

Where the money's going

Bonfire is 10-1 from 16-1 for the Investec Derby with William Hill ahead of his trial in the Stobart Barristers Dee Stakes at Chester on Friday.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power