Chester Preview (15.10): Buthelezi up for the Cup
The big betting race of the day is the Chester Cup (15.10), and Buthelezi looks decent each-way value in a typically wide-open and competitive renewal of the 2m 2f contest.
Buthelezi is trained by the ultra-shrewd Brian Ellison and ended last season in fine form, winning at Ayr and finishing runner-up either side of that victory.
The seven-year-old then looked better than ever when making a winning seasonal reappearance at Musselburgh last month over 1m 6f, making all and keeping on strongly to beat Esteaming by 1 1/2 lengths on soft ground off a mark of 88.
The pair pulled seven lengths clear of the third home Aramist, who has since come out and scored by 3 1/2 lengths to give the form a solid look.
Buthelezi has been put up 6lb for that victory to 94, but was rated as 105 in the past when trained by John Gosden and is clearly right at the top of his game and thriving at present.
The step up to trip should also not be a problem given that the son of Dynaformer has won over 2m 4f over hurdles, and another plus is Buthelezi handles all types of going and will not be inconvenienced by any further rain.
Buthelezi has also secured the plum draw in stall one, and for one that likes to race up with the pace is in the perfect position to get a good early pitch in the hands of jockey Ben Curtis.
Owner Dr Marwan Koukash is bidding for a hat-trick in the race, and has a strong hand of five respresentives.
They include last year’s winner and runner-up, Suegioo and Angel Gabrial, but both are now significantly higher in the weights and the pick of his quintent looks to be Gabrial’s King.
The six-year-old finished ninth in the race 12 months ago, but was forced to race wide throughout and is much better drawn today in stall three.
Gabrial’s King is also having only his second run for trainer Richard Fahey, having shaped really on his first start for the Malton-based handler when runner-up at Ripon last month.
The gelding encountered all sorts of trouble in-running before keeping on nicely to be beaten 3 3/4 lengths by Trip To Paris, and and is officially 3lb “well in” at the weights today as a result of that effort.
That gives Gabrial’s King a big shout from a handicapping perspective, and his handler knows what is required to win the race having saddled Greenwich Meantime to victory in 2007 and Address Unknown in 2013.