Tom Dascombe throwing plenty at £1 million Chester May festival
David Carr samples the atmosphere at Manor House Stables
Whether it be shown on Racing UK, At The Races, Sky Sports Racing or even Comedy Central, Chester is the course that matters more than any other at Tom Dascombe's Manor House Stables.
And talk here isn't of what channel it's going to be on in the future, but about which of its lucrative pots will be heading this way next week, when prize-money for the three-day May meeting tops £1 million for the first time.
Dascombe isn't one to tell other people how to do their job at his own crunch time of the year and, when asked about Chester's new deal with Sky Sports Racing, he merely says: "I had lunch with the clerk of the course Andrew Morris on Monday and he was very excited about it – I guess they think it's a great idea.
"Chester is one of the most forward-thinking racecourses in the world, and it's better to do something than nothing."
It's certainly better to offer seven-figure prize-money than not, although that's not a carrot that needs to be dangled just down the A41 from Chester at the stables built by Michael Owen, where they are eagerly anticipating the biggest meeting of the year at their home track.
Dascombe has been on the scoreboard at least once in every year since he moved from Lambourn to take the reins at this purpose-built establishment in 2009, and this time he has designs on loosening Aidan O'Brien's tight grip on the £100,000 MBNA Chester Vase.
The man whose Brown Panther was second in the 2011 St Leger – what kind of good thing was he for the 1m4f handicap at Chester that May? – has a possible Investec Derby horse in Proschema, who romped to an 11-length win at Haydock on Saturday.
"He improved for the step up to a mile and a half at Haydock and it doesn't make sense to drop him back to a mile and a quarter in the Dante," he reasons.
"It's also more likely to be soft at Chester than a week later at York. He won nicely on Saturday and looks like a proper horse."
Dascombe is sadly resigned to shelving plans for Teodoro to be just his third runner in the £150,000 188Bet Chester Cup, saying: "I'd dearly love to run him – he's unproven at the trip but I think he'd love it – but he's totally ground dependent and it looks like being too soft."
Don't let the professed approach to the meeting of 'throwing as many at it as we can' fool you – a smart team includes Group 3-winning sprinter Kachy, Dee Stakes hope Finniston Farm and "total professional" Arcanada.
But Dascombe reveals: "Given a reasonable draw, No I'm Easy is probably the bet of the meeting. He looks potentially well handicapped in the six-furlong three-year-old handicap. He's improving all the time."
And there's even a hint as to how to earn the funds to back him next Wednesday.
The trainer says: "Sha La La La Lee will go to Chester if he wins at Redcar on Thursday, which he will – I don't care what takes him on, I don't care where he's drawn."
That's the confidence of a man with 16 winners already in the bag in 2018, prize-money of nearly £200,000 and a healthy level-stakes profit on his runners for the year.
"We had a dreadful winter but the horses came out flying," he says. "The east of the country had it worst, but we had a great April – I just hope it can last another week."
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