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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Astronaute bids to follow up but still has long way to match Confessional feats

El Astronaute (rails) bids to repeat last year's all-the-way win
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1.50 Chester
Gateley PLC Handicap | 5f | ITV4/RUK

El Astronaute showed fine speed to lead all the way from stall one in this 5f handicap last year but he has a much stiffer task as he bids to repeat that victory 12 months on.

Not only is he 8lb higher in the weights but he is also coming out of box nine, in a race whose last five winners have all been drawn four or lower.

But the five-year-old went within a head of defying a 14 of 14 draw at Pontefract last month and trainer John Quinn said: "I'd have liked a better draw but he loves Chester and he's in great form. He won this last year and he ran really well from stall 14 at Pontefract on his return."

Never worse than sixth in six attempts

El Astronaute has an awfully long way to go to match Confessional's astonishing record in a race he is contesting for the seventh time.

He won it in 2012 and has also finished second, third, fourth (twice) and sixth in his six previous attempts at a contest that clearly plays to his strengths.

The 11-year-old races off a lower BHA mark than on any previous cracks at the race but starting from stall 11 of 13 will make things hard for him.

"It's not ideal that he's drawn out wide but he's in great form," said trainer Tim Easterby. "He always runs well in this and the more rain there is the better he'll go."

Easterby also runs course winner Bossipop and said: "He has a better draw in six. He's another who loves Chester and he's also in great form."

No madness in bringing him here

Amomentofmadness has never run at Chester but he has the speed to suggest he'll take to the place – he led for much of the way in the Dash at lightning-fast Epsom last summer.

He looked as good as ever when scoring from the front on the all-weather at Kempton last month and he has the perfect draw for a sprinter with his attacking style, right on the inside in stall one.

Trainer Charlie Hills, who relishes the Chester May meeting, said:  "A smart winner at Kempton already this term, he's got a good draw in one, which is great and very important for a fast horse like him."

What they say

Tom Dascombe, trainer of Reflektor
Reflektor is a real diamond and he's enjoyed a fine start to the year. That means he's on a career-high mark of 95 now and life will obviously be tougher, but when it all falls right for him I'm sure he can win again. He's sure to go well.

Iain Jardine, trainer of Mayleaf Shine
She's in good form and she's wintered well. She'll get her ground as she wants a bit of juice. She's drawn seven but that could be worse, she's run well there before and fingers crossed for another good run.

Richard Fahey, trainer of Boundsy and Powerallied
Powerallied likes the track and has the better draw. If he can hang onto them early, he’ll be coming home strongly. Boundsy is draw 13 of 13 and we’re relying on them going flat out and walking home, but that rarely happens.

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He's on a career-high mark of 95 now and life will obviously be tougher but when it all falls right for him I'm sure he can win again
E.W. Terms
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