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Dermot Weld issues ground warning for Frankie Dettori-ridden Falcon Eight

Dermot Weld: concerned by Falcon Eight's past runs on easier going
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2.45 Chester
tote+ Chester Cup Handicap | 2m2½f | 4yo+ | ITV4/Sky

Much of Britain has been rejoicing at the arrival of rain in the past week after one of driest Aprils on record.

Those celebrations have not been replicated by Dermot Weld, who has targeted this historic contest with Falcon Eight and booked Frankie Dettori for the ride only to be left cursing the skies and how they may yet make the task of winning more difficult than initially expected.

Owned and bred by Moyglare Stud, Falcon Eight has raced only twice on ground softer than good, including when well beaten in the 2019 Group 1 Prix du Cadran at Longchamp. He tends to produce his best on a sound surface.

Frankie Dettori got the best out of Falcon Eight at Sandown in 2019

"He is a light-bodied stayer who operates best on the top of the ground, so I would issue a word of caution about the ground," Weld said. “He never fired in the Prix Du Cadran when he ran in it, but that was on bottomless ground. 

"Frankie is back on board and he gave him an absolutely marvellous ride to win at Sandown on the same day Enable won the Eclipse the year before last."

Ground aside, Falcon Eight stands out as a leading contender for this race with form behind the likes of Melbourne Cup winner Twilight Payment. He remains relatively unexposed having raced only nine times.

However, the ground is preoccupying his trainer, who added: "This race is the plan and he has travelled over safe and well but the ground does worry me. I'm banking on them not getting any more rain; the drier the ground the better chance he has."

What they say

Alan King, trainer of Who Dares Wins and Coeur De Lion
There would not be a more deserved winner than Who Dares Wins, who has been fourth, third and second in his previous three attempts. The track suits him and Coeur De Lion. He only just squeezed into this race, but he’s also got an okay draw and we hope he’ll again be competitive. The ground will suit both my horses.

Chester Cup regular Who Dares Wins (far side) and The Grand Visir (near) face off again in the marathon contest

Ian Williams, trainer of The Grand Visir, Cardano & Reshoun
Cardano stands a really good chance. He's well drawn and should love the ground. The only thing we don't know for sure is if he'll stay but he's shown us enough to suggest he will do. His run at Musselburgh puts him bang in there if he stays. The softer the ground the better for The Grand Visir and his outside draw makes things tough enough for him. Reshoun is well enough drawn but he can be a little tardy away – we've been working on that but he'll need to jump well and hold a prominent position to be seen at his best. He could go well if things pan out for him.

Jedd O’Keeffe, trainer of Rare Groove
He’s in fabulous form and we’ve been delighted with his preparation for this race. We’re pleased to see some rain for him although the draw will make it more difficult. That said, the better fancied horses aren’t really drawn low so we’ll just need a bit of extra luck.

Hughie Morrison, trainer of Not So Sleepy
He seems to be in good form at home and he has every right to be there and to run a good race. However, we have to be realistic because he’s nine and he’s had some hard races over the winter.

Not So Sleepy: had a successful season over jumps

Bridget Drew, director of Mildmay Racing, co-owners of Nate The Great
I think the ground has probably gone against him as he likes firmer going. The draw is good and Andrew [Balding, trainer] says he’s in good form and ready for the race. He’s run well over further in the Queen Alexandra at Royal Ascot so we know he stays the distance.

Read more on the final day of the Chester May meeting

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Can Not So Sleepy emulate Overturn and make every yard in Chester Cup? (Members' Club)

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I'm banking on them not getting any more rain; the drier the ground the better chance he has
E.W. Terms