Chester: can be sure of an increased media presence on WednesdayPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
No Fergie but United stars at Chester
CHESTER racecourse will host Manchester United players this afternoon but their manager Sir Alex Ferguson is not expected to be in attendance following the shock announcement that he will step down at the end of the season following a record-breaking 26-year reign.
England internationals Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck arrived at the track shortly before the first race but Ferguson, a horse racing fanatic who has enjoyed Classic success as an owner with Rock Of Gibraltar, will not be present to see his Butterfly McQueen run at 3.50.
Ferguson, 71, announced that he will become a director and ambassador at Manchester United at the conclusion of the current season, leading bookmakers to slash the odds of Everton manager David Moyes to 1-5 to take over.
In a statement, Ferguson said: "The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly. It is the right time.
"It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so. The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.
"Our training facilities are amongst the finest in global sport and our home Old Trafford is rightfully regarded as one of the leading venues in the world.
"Going forward, I am delighted to take on the roles of both director and ambassador for the club. With these activities, along with my many other interests, I am looking forward to the future."
With Ferguson expected to have more time on his hands, the bookmakers wasted no time in pricing up a whole load of special markets.
Paddy Power make it just 6-1 that he will have a Cheltenham Festival winner in 2014 or 2015 while Coral believe he may reignite his partnership with Aidan O'Brien and go 16-1 he will have a horse in training at Ballydoyle in the same time frame.