Chester May Festival

The Chester May meeting (ran at Chester racecourse) is one of the first big festivals of the season and often provides vital Classic clues.

The Chester Vase has been won by Derby winners Henbit, Shergar and Ruler Of The World. Wings Of Eagles and Forever Together were beaten at this meeting before winning at Epsom.

Oaks winners Light Shift and Enable won the Cheshire Oaks.

The meeting also features the Chester Cup, one of the most competitive staying handicaps of the season. Champion hurdler Sea Pigeon won this race twice in the 1970’s while more recent dual winners include Rainbow High and Anak Pekan.

The Group 3 Ormonde Stakes has been won by high class performers including Harbinger and St Nicholas Abbey.

Chester May Festival

Chester May Festival Day 1

The opening day main races of the Boodles May Festival are as below:

Chester Vase History & Famous winners

The Group 3 Chester Vase is for three-year-old colts and geldings over a mile and a half.

It was first run in 1907 and is a useful trial for the Epsom Derby.

Henbit (1980) and Shergar (1981) won both races but it was not until Ruler Of The World (2013) that another colt went on to win the Classic. The 2017 renewal was won by Venice Beach with second-placed Wings Of Eagles winning the Derby next time out.

The race has also produced St Leger winners Toulon (1991) and Millenary (2000) as well as high class colts Unfuwain (1988), Belmez (1990) and 2011 Irish Derby winner Treasure Beach.

Aidan O’Brien has dominated this race with nine winners, most recently scoring with Sir Dragonet (2019).

Cheshire Oaks

The Listed Cheshire Oaks for three-year-old fillies over a mile and a half is an important trial for the Epsom Oaks.

Light Shift won both races in 2007, as did Enable ten years’ later. John Gosden’s filly went on to win the Arc twice and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes three times in a glittering career. 2018 runner-up Forever Together won the Oaks on her next start. She was trained by Aidan O’Brien who has won the race six times, just one short of the record held by Barry Hills.

Chester May Festival Day 2

The day two main races are as below:

Ormonde Stakes History & Famous winners

The Ormonde Stakes is a Group 3 race for four-year-olds and upwards over a mile and five furlongs.

It was first run in 1936 with victory going to Quashed.

The race is often used as a stepping-stone to the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

There have been three dual winners; Sovrango (1962, 1963), Shambo (1993, 1994) and St Expedit (2001, 2002). 1983 Derby winner Teenoso won here in 1984 while other top-class winners include Harbinger (2010), St Nicholas Abbey (2011) and Brown Panther (2014).

Dee Stakes

The listed Dee Stakes is for three-year-old colts and geldings over a mile and a quarter.

The inaugural running was won by Bravo in 1813. Although it is short of the Derby trip, the Dee Stakes has sometimes served as a useful Epsom trial. Oath (1999) and Kris Kin (2003) won both races and Cliffs Of Moher (2017) went on to finish second in the Derby.

Aidan O’Brien has won this race eight times, three short of the record set by Barry Hills.

Chester May Festival Day 3

The final days racing is:

Chester Cup History & Famous winners

The Chester Cup is the big betting race of the meeting, a handicap over an extended two and a quarter miles.

The race was first run in 1824 as the Tradesmen’s Cup, assuming its current title sixty years’ later. No horse has ever won the race three times but there have been nine dual winners.

Sea Pigeon was a very popular dual-purpose gelding and won this race in 1977 and 1978. He carried 9st 7lbs for his second victory, a weight carrying performance which has only been bettered twice since. His other career wins included the 1979 Ebor Handicap and the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in 1980 and 1981.

Rainbow High won the Chester Cup in 1999 and 2001, defying 9st 13lbs on the second occasion.

The most recent dual winner was Anak Pekan (2004 and 2005). Mamlook (2010) was the only winning favourite between 2005 and 2019.

Other popular Chester Cup winners include Top Cees (1995, 1997), Overturn (2011) and Trip To Paris (2015). The latter went on to win the Ascot Gold Cup for Ed Dunlop and Graham Lee.

Huxley Stakes

The Huxley Stakes was introduced in 1999 and is a Group 2 race for four-year-olds and upwards over a mile and a quarter.

The first running was won by Chester House who later won the Arlington Million.

Sir Michael Stoute’s Maraahel won this race for three successive seasons from 2005 to 2007. 2014 winner Noble Mission was a full-brother to Frankel and went on to emulate his illustrious sibling by winning the Group 1 Champion Stakes.

Best Trainers & Jockeys at Chester May Festival

Barry Hills had a phenomenal record at this fixture and still heads the standings in some of the major races.

In recent seasons Aidan O’Brien has plundered this meeting with his Classic contenders, often running his leading Derby and Oaks contenders.

Local trainer Tom Dascombe rarely lets a Chester meeting go by without saddling a winner while Ryan Moore has been the jockey to follow.

Betting on Chester May Festival 2021

Chester racecourse is a very sharp, turning left-handed track and the draw can have a big influence on the outcome in races up to seven furlongs. The course tends to favour front-runners, particularly on faster ground.

There is a lively ante-post market on the Chester Cup and bookmakers usually offer enhanced place terms down to fifth or sixth place.

These Chester racecourse trials can have a big impact on the betting for the Epsom Derby and Oaks. It is currently sponosted by Boodles and known as the Boodles May Festival.

If you are looking to bet online we recommend the following great deals:

Summary

The Chester May Festival provides a fascinating mixture of high-class Classic trials and very competitive handicaps.

The Chester Cup is one of the most exciting staying handicaps of the season and the nature of the track produces some thrilling finishes.

The Chester Vase, Dee Stakes and Cheshire Oaks often influence the Classic betting and it’s a great meeting for spotting future winners.