Chester poised to welcome bumper crowd for first time since end of restrictions
Sunday: 3.10 Chester
Children's Air Ambulance Queensferry Stakes (Listed) | 6f | 3yo+ | Sky
Chester will welcome its biggest crowd since 2019 on Sunday for a meeting which has attracted up to 40,000 people in the past.
Director of racing Andrew Morris believes the course will benefit from pent-up demand from racegoers finally free to attend its first fixture since pandemic restrictions were lifted.
"Every hospitality, restaurant or leisure business has seen a huge demand because for 18 months people haven't been able to go, and we've seen really encouraging ticket sales," he said.
"It's a really difficult crowd figure for us to anticipate. Fifteen years ago we got up to 40,000 people and most of it is sales on the day; it's greatly weather-dependent.
"If it's a nice day we hope for a crowd of 20,000 to 25,000, but the forecast is mixed and not as warm as a week ago – we'd have had an even bigger crowd then."
Judicial took the feature Children's Air Ambulance Queensferry Stakes when it was run behind closed doors last year, one of three wins from his four visits to Chester.
However, the nine-year-old has questions to answer in the Listed 6f contest 12 months on and Steve Brown, husband of trainer Julie Camacho, said: "He's been below par this year. He lost a shoe in the Palace House and that was forgivable, but we were disappointed with him at Beverley where he didn't look totally comfortable under pressure and hung a little bit.
"We've tinkered with one or two things and we feel as though we've got him in good shape. But when you reach his age and you've been a bit below form, you start asking questions a little bit more than you would a younger horse, so we hope he runs a good race.
"He's going back to a track he likes and runs well at but he could have done without quite so much rain."
A soft surface would suit Nunthorpe Stakes entry Dakota Gold, who has won five Listed races and a Group 3 event with give in the ground in the last two years and whose younger half-brother Commanche Falls won the Stewards' Cup for the same owners on Saturday.
"He's in good form," said trainer Michael Dods. "He's coming to hand. All his form has been on straight tracks, so it will be interesting to see him on a track like Chester, but we're happy with him and any rain would help."
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