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.

News
Brand said he
people
Sport
Adam Lallana, Juan Cala, Andy Carroll and Cameron Jerome
sportThe latest news and scores
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
tvGrace Dent on TV
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Sport
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives in the rain during the qualifying session of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai
sport
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
The North Korean TV advert for Taedonggang beer, that became a YouTube hit
food + drinkAnd what did it take to set up a taste test back in Wiltshire?
Arts & Entertainment
filmLife for Leslie Mann's can be challenging sometimes
Voices
For music lovers: John Cusack with his vinyl collection in 'High Fidelity'
voices...but don't forget rest of the year
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit