Anipa (blue cap) defeats Secret Pursuit in the Cheshire OaksPICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Anipa gives her all
for Cheshire Oaks win
Report: Wednesday, Wednesday
Weatherbys Private Banking Cheshire Oaks (Robert Sangster Memorial Cup) (Listed race), 1m3½f 3yo fillies
ANIPA may not have brought the hottest of form lines but kept her winning streak on the roll to offer connections a Classic option with a win in Chester's version of the Oaks.
The daughter of Sea The Stars won a 0-75 handicap on her most recent start and was ignored at 16-1 as the market was dominated by Ballydoyle runner Terrific, the 15-8 favourite whose yearling price tag was 1,300,000 guineas.
Yet Terrific never really promised to live up to her name as pacesetter Secret Pursuit held on for second, beaten half a length, with Bright Approach third at 5-2.
Anipa is not entered in the Investec Oaks and a run would cost her owner-breeder Nurlan Bizakov £30,000 for a supplementary entry. Winning trainer Roger Varian was non-committal immediately afterwards as Paddy Power introduced Anipa into the Oaks betting at 33-1.
"She's a tough little filly and clearly improving," said Varian.
"On ratings she had to step up on what she did previously. I thought her price reflected her chance and we wanted to finish in the first three, so we're delighted.
"At this stage I wouldn't want to commit [to the Oaks]. She does keep improving and surprising us and she handles these quirky tracks well."
Mukhmal (second right) powers towards the home straight at ChesterPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Also on Wednesday
Chester: Manor House Stables Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes, 5f 2yo
DRAW devotees were scratching their heads as the first race of the May meeting went to the widest starter of all, Mukhmal under Paul Hanagan, ending a run of nine wins in ten years for those drawn five or lower.
The 6-1 winner was sent immediately to the front from stall ten by Hanagan and held that position all the way as Roudee, who had raced in second, tried to challenge in the home straight but was unable to cut the gap.
Mukhmal was conceding 6lb or more to his rivals and a total of a stone to the gamble of the race, Cheerio Sweetie, who he had beaten when they met last month in the Scottish Brocklesby at Musselburgh.
Cheerio Sweetie was levered from 3-1 to 7-4 but her chance evaporated when she missed the break. By then Mukhmal was left with just six rivals after What A Squirtle was withdrawn at the start after becoming upset and Saphira Silver unseated Matthew Cosham on leaving the stalls.
Hanagan, wearing the colours of Hamdan Al Maktoum on the Mark Johnston-trained winner, said: "That takes some doing [from that draw]. He had the benefit of that run at Musselburgh where he learnt a bit and he was quick that day. He is so straightforward."
Chester: Stellar Group Handicap, 5f 4yo+
TIM PITT barely knows Sir Maximilian, a newcomer to his yard, but the pair will now be bosom buddies after combining to great effect in a clear-cut win.
Pitt, who trains less than an hour from the track at Market Drayton, had few anxious moments after entrusting Sir Maxmilian's debut outing for the yard to Stevie Donohoe.
The winning rider stalked through the early part of the race after breaking from stall four and found more than plenty from his mount in the home straight to win comfortably at 7-1.
Caspian Prince was second as 4-1 favourite with Ballista back in third at 5-1.