Chester Cup Betting

With a prize pool of £100,000, the Chester Cup is the most valuable race of the year run at Chester Racecourse in Cheshire, which has the distinction of being the oldest racecourse in Britain. It dates back to Roman times and was established as a permanent structure on land called “The Roodee” in the 13th century. In those days, Chester served as a major medieval maritime port, and its first recorded race at the “Roodee Fields” was held in 1539, during the reign of Henry the Eighth.

The Chester Cup was inaugurated in 1824 and won by Doge of Venice. A variety of different distances have been used over the years, starting at two and a quarter miles and then lengthened to two miles, two furlongs and 97 yards. In 1992, the length was extended again by 20 yards, and two years later it settled at the current distance of two miles, two furlongs and 147 yards, which covers two and bit circuits of the track.

The Chester Cup is run as a Class 2 handicap flat race for horses aged four years and upwards. It is the main feature of Chester’s three-day May Festival, sharing the card on the first day with five other races: the Class 2 Manor House Stables Lily Agnes Stakes, the Weatherbys Bank Cheshire Oaks, the Stellar Group Handicap Stakes, the Merseyrail Maiden Stakes and the Class 3 Ware Investment and Bridging4u Handicap Stakes.

Currently, the Chester Cup is sponsored by bookmaker, who of course are synonymous with horse racing. The “tote” was established in England by Act of Parliament in 1928 and has grown to become the fourth largest bookmaker in the United Kingdom, employing some 3,500 workers at over 500 betting shops and all 60 racecourses across Britain.

In its illustrious history, the Chester Cup has witnessed many champions. The first legendary winner here was the great Leamington bred by Mr. Halford. He won the 1857 edition and then came back to claim a second victory in 1859. Dalby was the first horse to claim a back-to-back double in 1865-66, a feat reprised by Pageant in 1877-78 and then by Dare Devil in 1892-93.

Racing was suspended at Chester during the war years of 1916-18 and 1940-45, which Chivalrous the only double winner in the interim (1922-23). Since then, only one other horse has managed back-to-back Cup victories—the 2004 favourite Anak Pekan, who repeated in 2005 with jockey Philip Robinson aboard for both rides. Of note, Rainbow High also got two victories here, one on either side of the 2000 winner Bangalore.

Given such a grand history, Chester has always attracted keen competition and full fields, making it quite difficult to pick winners. Since 1975, only four favourites have won the Chester Cup, although the last one to do so was very recent—the 2010 champion Mamlook, who came home at 7/1. However, four of the past six races have gone to horses pegged at double-digit odds, with 2008 winner Bulwark carrying the longest odds in two decades at 33/1.

In looking for trends among recent winners, age seems to make no difference. Of the last twenty winners, five have been four years olds, five have been five, six have been six, and four have been seven. Similarly, the weights they carried ranged widely, from seven-stone-eight to nine-stone-thirteen.

Trainer Barry Hills has had the most good fortune at the Chester Cup of late. He had the two victories with Rainbow High in 1999 and 2001, and then finished up the hat-trick in 2009 with the triumph of his son Richard riding Daraahem.

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