The final day of the May Festival at Chester takes place on Friday with the highlight of the meeting, the Chester Cup, taking centre stage. Here are Nick Luck’s fancies.


GROVE FERRY has quite appealing credentials at 15/2 in the TV opener at Chester on Friday (1.45pm). He hasn’t run here before but has slid around the sharp bends of Lingfield more than once, recording a career best there earlier in the year. His effort in the Lincoln was respectable, but he found the ground too fast and was quite keen. A switch away from apprentice handling, combined with a drop in trip and cut in the ground, should see him hit the frame at least.

ARMORY is the clear pick in the Huxley Stakes (2.15pm) at 13/8. While Bangkok is admirable now, we know how good he is, while Sangarius (closely matched) has now had two breathing ops and Palavecino doesn’t have optimum conditions. The selection didn’t really let the side down once last season and anything approximating his second in the Cox Plate or third in the Irish Champion Stakes (split Ghaiyyath and Sottsass) should suffice here.

FALCON EIGHT is taken to defy top weight and win the Chester Cup (2.45pm) for Dermot Weld and Frankie Dettori at 9/1. This handicap is extremely compact and he really doesn’t have to concede lumps away to vastly progressive horses – Not So Sleepy is favourite, for goodness sake. With that in mind, his class and Group race form can come to the fore. Furthermore, he is one of only a couple who might be ahead of their mark: his trainer has always stated that he is very late maturing and has been campaigned sparingly as a result. I will also be backing FUTURE INVESTMENT at 15/2, who has already shown some of his best form at the track (as did his late maturing full sister), will relish the conditions and comes from a yard that is going well.

KING’S LYNN is quite a confident pick to land the Conditions Sprint (3.15pm) at 2/1. El Astronaute is one of the most likeable horses around and will get a big cheer from me, but he ended last season on a bit of a low with stalls issues becoming increasingly marked. If he’s on point, he’ll be hard to catch around here, but the selection is a really progressive young sprinter going places, with an ability to handle conditions and hit the line hard at this trip.

FOX TAL (4/1) is another Andrew Balding trainee I can see going very well, this time in a really trappy handicap (3.45pm). This is his first ever run in a handicap company, unsurprising given that he was finishing an excellent fourth in the Champion Stakes as a very inexperienced three-year-old. Last year was disappointing, but his two runs over this trip on this ground were still good enough to put him right in the mix here, and he has been gelded since which may well help.

Market Rasen

FINGERONTHESWITCH is a risky but interesting prospect at 11/1 in the feature jumps race at Market Rasen (2.00pm). He’s been finding it quite tough in the biggest handicaps of late, but he certainly wasn’t disgraced in the big chase at Kempton in February and – if he’s capable of that sort of effort – he should still be able to run a race in this much weaker and easier grade, particularly as the handicapper has now taken a scythe to his mark (dropped 12lbs for four runs in top company). A right-handed track and spring jumping ground suits well and Luca Morgan is value for his claim.

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