Get ready for regulars O'Brien, Koukash and Owen on the Roodee
Chester often plays to full houses through its summer season and the three-day May meeting lifts the curtain with the Classic trials attracting Investec Derby and Oaks possibles. Here are five thoughts to whet the appetite for the first day on Wednesday
Aidan O'Brien has made Chester a second home over the three days giving the Ballydoyle Classic hopes valuable experience on a tricky track in the trials. This year looks like being no different as he has five fillies in the Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks, bidding to make it six wins in the last 11 years in the Listed race. All his previous five winners went on the run at Epsom with Wonder Of Wonders going closest when second to Dancing Rain in 2011.
Marwan Koukash loves nothing more than a winner at his local track as 28 winners and nearly £750,000 prize-money in the last five seasons attests. The Salford Red Devils rugby league club owner's grey and gold colours have been flying high recently with four winners from his last 11 runners and he has six in the 118Bet Chester Cup including his famous one-two of 2014 Suegioo and Angel Gabrial. However his Chester runners are not a blind punting proposition as he has had 306 runners in racking up the 28 wins resulting in a level stakes loss of nearly £1,500 to a tenner.
Another local whose goal is to celebrate success at the meeting is former Liverpool and England footballer Michael Owen and his team of trainer Tom Dascombe and jockey Richard Kinsgcote. The Manor House Stables has three entries in the traditional curtainraiser that is the Lily Agnes for two-year-olds with Owen involved in all three. The race was sponsored by the stables when Dascombe and Kingscote won it in 2010 with Julius Geezer and three years later with Quatuor.
Cup of joy
The 118Bet Chester Cup is the big punting race of the week. Despite this handicap always being competitive and with each-way betting on the first four there has been surprisingly few successful outsiders with only one winner in the last ten years returning at odds bigger than 14-1. Mark Johnston, who has had plenty of good staying handicappers over the years, has yet to win the race but has three potential contenders this year with Oriental Fox, Watersmeet and Yorkidding.
Celebrity spotting is part of the fun over the three days as it has been known for Manchester United and City players to mingle with Liverpool stars past and present. With United in Europa League action next Thursday their presence is unlikely but keen racehorse owner Sir Alex Ferguson is on the spotters' list. There are no promises Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp will be in attendance. Add in a few soap stars from such as Hollyoaks and Emmerdale and it is not only the horses who will be showing off.