Chester Preview: Gabrial has a Great chance in Roodee opener
Cheshire-based trainer Donald McCain loves nothing more than a winner at Chester, and his Gabrial The Great looks to have a fine chance of landing the spoils in the opening race on day two of the May Festival (1.45).
The gelding had some very good form to his name last season when trained by Luca Cumani, winning a handicap at Newbury in good style off before going on to chase home the upwardly mobile Ascription in a class 2 contest at Doncaster.
The son of Montjeu then ran a stormer to finish eighth of 31 to Educate in the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket, where he blew the start completely before keeping on well to be beaten 5 3/4 lengths off a mark of 96.
He then joined Donald McCain, and was far from disgraced in finishing runner-up at Aintree on his sole start over hurdles.
The five-year-old, who showed he handled this track when finishing second earlier in his career, now returns to the flat off the same mark as in the Cambridgeshire in what is a less competitive contest.
That makes Gabrial The Great, who handles all types of going, look weighted to take the beating from a good draw in stall 1.
In the 6f sprint handicap (4.25), The Hooded Claw looks a big player with conditions coming in his favour.
The Tim Easterby trained gelding had some decent form to his name as a juvenile, including an excellent 3 1/4 length fifth of 23 in the listed Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar.
The son of Dandy Man was also far from disgraced in a decent nursery at York, before winning in the mud at Catterick by two lengths off an official rating of 85.
The three-year-old now gets into this contest off what looks a very workable mark of 80, having shaped with bags of promise in two runs this season.
In the first of those, The Hooded Claw finished fourth to Mecca’s Angel who has since gone on to win a conditions contest by eight lengths and is now rated 105.
That was followed by a luckless run at Doncaster, where the The Hooded Claw got boxed in at a vital stage when travelling ominously well and finished full of running to be beaten just 2 1/2 lengths into sixth.
The Hooded Claw should now be spot on to do himself justice, and any further rain that falls at the track will only further enhance his chances.
In the 1m 2f handicap that closes the card (5.00), Buckstay looks sure to go well.
Trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam, the gelding has not scored since landing a maiden at Wolverhapton back in September 2012 but ran some very solid races in decent handicaps last season.
They included a 1 3/4 length third of eight to Thomas Hobson over 1m 2f at Newbury off a mark of 83.
The winner, from who Buckstay was receiving 1lb, went on to score twice and is now rated 101.
That is strong form, and makes Buckstay look handily weighted off a handicap mark of 86.