The feature race of Chester’s Saturday card is the Listed City Plate run over 7f. Seven runners are due to go to post in what looks to be a competitive renewal. The betting is headed by the Richard Hannon trained Kool Company (11/4), with Joe Fanning booked to take the ride. An impressive winner of the Group 3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket in April, he then finished down the field in both the 2000 Guineas and the Commonwealth Cup. A return to a lower level may well see Kool Kompany in the mix once more, but at the prices it may well pay to look elsewhere for value.
Zarwaan (10/3) has been in impressive form this season, running well in both the Lincoln and the Victoria Cup before winning a competitive handicap at Newcastle last time out. This is a marked step up in class however and against more experienced horses, Zarwaan may have to wait for his first Listed victory.
Moving on to Intransigent (13/2) finished fourth in last year’s City Plate and carries 9 stone 5lbs in this year’s race. A winner of a Listed race at Chester last August highlights that he’s capable of adapting to the uniqueness of the Chester Roodee but he may well struggle to give weight to his rivals on Saturday.
The Olly Stevens trained Lightning Thunder (9/1) was a high-class three-year old, finishing runner-up in both the British and Irish 1000 Guineas last year but has disappointed at Group level since. Connections will be hoping that a return to Listed company and the application of first time blinkers will have the desired result.
Like Zarwaan, Dusky Queen (13/2) has been running well in handicaps, finishing in the first three in her last three races, including an impressive victory in a fillies handicap at York in May. Although worthy of her place in the field, it may well be that the step up in class is a step too far at present.
It wouldn’t be a meeting at Chester without a runner for Dr Marwan Koukash and he is represented in this year’s City Plate by Gabrial (6/1 with Coral, stand out price). Winner of the Lincoln in March, Gabrial has performed well at varying levels since, including competitive Listed and Group 3 action. Trained by Richard Fahey, who is the top trainer at Chester, connections will be hoping for a strong run.
A competitive renewal of the City Plate sees a mixture of horses dropping down in grade, such as Kool Kompany and Lightning Thunder, as well as horses stepping up in grade such as Zarwaan and Dusky Queen. The one horse that seems to perform regularly at this level is however Gabrial and he may well be the answer to a tricky race. Preferring to come of a strong pace, the front running tactics of Kool Kompany may well play into Gabrial’s hands and give him his second course victory, having won at Chester on his racecourse debut back in 2011.