With two of the 40 races down, the Handinaps competition is still in the very early days. We here at BetConnect are proud to sponsor a competition that has already generated serious interest. Rounds three and four come up quickly this weekend as the season starts to build.
The Chester Cup on Friday and the Victoria Cup at Ascot on Saturday give a double header this weekend. They are also the second and final group games for the Knockout Cup. That makes them crucial even this early in this competition. Let’s get stuck into the pair. Prices are correct at time of writing on Thursday afternoon.
The Chester Cup – 3.15 Chester Friday
The 2021 renewal saw Falcon Eight beat The Grand Visir two lengths, the pair both back in 2022. The former will once more be ridden by Frankie Dettori and looks sure to be a popular choice. Last seen over hurdles in a Fairyhouse Grade 2, this smacks of being the target for connections once more.
Ian Williams sends a team of four to the race, include the aforementioned runner-up from last season. Things have not gone his way since but he has run with credit in a trio of Group 2’s, bumping into Stradivarius twice. Seven pounds better off this time around, he looks overpriced.
Rajinsky finished in front of stablemate Haliphon in a falsely run race at Ripon last time. The second-named didn’t have things fall his way prior to that at Musselburgh either. Chester can be a tough place to ride for luck but Haliphon strikes as a horse with a big handicap in him this season. The excellent Harry Davies will ride Rajinsjy, his seven-pound claim will continue to attract interest in the big handicaps.
There are three other Irish raiders to go along with Falcon Eight. Cleveland will represent Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore on just his fifth career start. He tries a mile further than he ever had before. It could be the making of him but he has enough questions to answer at the price.
John Queally is represented by Arcadian Sunrise with Jamie Spencer booked. The eight-year-old got the better of Rajinsky when they met at York in August but has been seen just once since. Morph Speed is a rare runner on these shores for Richard John O’Brien which entitles him to some respect.
Of the rest, It’s Good To Laugh is 2/2 at Chester over shorter. This ground suits and he shapes as if worth a try over a longer trip while Solent Gateway is unexposed and looks capable of better having won over two miles at this track last season.
The Grand Visir @ 22/1
It’s Good To Laugh @ 22/1
Victoria Cup – 4.05 Ascot Saturday
As wide open as usual with Dark Shift heading the market at time of writing for Charlie Hills. He finished off last season with a pair of wins at this track, one of those over this trip, making it 3/4 at Ascot. His dam is a half-sister to Eclipse winner Ulysees who improved with age so there is every chance there is better to come this season.
Fresh is next in, runner-up in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot last season. The pick of his turf form has come on softer ground and he’s yet to 100% convince at this trip. That said, this better surface shouldn’t test his stamina quite so much.
Just behind Fresh last time was Chiefofchiefs. The nine-year-old is almost too consistent for his own good, getting his head in front just once since January 2019. Four of his top eight RPR’s have come at this track, including when beaten three lengths in this last year from a two-pound higher mark.
Both Magical Morning and One Ruler drop down from a mile to seven furlongs here. Neither have run over a trip this short since their respective juvenile campaigns in 2019 and 2020. The pair will garner plenty of respect in the market on connections alone but the return to this trip needs to spark a little more.
Kevin Philippart De Foy has booked Benoit De La Sayette 15 times so far, the pair winning seven of those and adding three places. That record makes Vafortino interesting. He was just run down close home at Newcastle last time, the winner that day given an inspired ride. It was a big step up on his 2021 form which gives him solid claims.
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) August 31, 2020
Stall 1 is probably not the place to be ideally but at a massive price, Mums Tipple warrants a mention. This trip on decent ground are his ideal conditions, producing form at a higher level last year. A mark of 99 is very tempting on the pick of his efforts so it would be no surprise to see him outrun his price.
Vafortino @ 12/1
Mums Tipple @ 40/1