Countrywide Flame: Champion Hurdle third heads Chester Cup marketPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Hurdling star Flame takes aim at Chester Cup
COUNTRYWIDE Flame, third in the Champion Hurdle and fifth at Aintree's Grand National meeting, bids to land one of Flat racing's most prestigious handicaps on Wednesday when he lines up in the StanJames.com Chester Cup, the highlight of the opening day of Chester's May meeting.
No stranger to competitive Flat handicaps, Countrywide Flame finished a close second of 34 runners in the Cesarewitch last October, although he is better known for his high-class hurdling form that includes victory in last year's Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
A best-priced 7-2 favourite with BetVictor and Ladbrokes on the morning of the race, Countrywide Flame is reported to be in good form by trainer John Quinn, who also runs Kiama Bay in the 2m2½f contest.
Quinn said: "Countrywide Flame has shown he can handle the track, he has had a bit of a break since Aintree and he seems in good form. He has a nice draw and a nice racing weight. Kiama Bay is not so well drawn but has track form and is working very well."
The going remains good to firm on the Roodee after just light rain on Wednesday morning failed to alter the going.
Speaking at 7am, clerk of the course Andrew Morris said: "We had just 1mm of rain from 5am but that has now stopped and the clouds are beginning to break and that should hopefully be all of the rain for today. The going is still good to firm all round."
Chester Good to firm (watered)
Gowran Park Good
Kelso Good, good to firm in places (watered)
Newcastle Good to firm, firm in places (watered)