From a petting zoo and a Chester FC soccer skills zone, to story-telling and live music, there was something for everyone at MBNA Family Funday on the Roodee.
Local funk and soul band, Yubaba, kicked off the day with a live set on the Open Course and the entertainment didn’t end there! There were a whole host of activities, including face painting, arts & crafts, giant games, a colouring wall, inflatable play zone and the much-anticipated petting zoo for the family to enjoy.
Chester’s award-winning cultural arts hub, Storyhouse was on site, hosting story-telling sessions and the chance to win tickets to their performance of Peter Pan later in the year.
“Everyone is having a great day out,” said local trainer Tom Dascombe in the winners’ enclosure at Chester Racecourse as More Turf Racing celebrated a win with Breathalyze, sent off at 13/8 in the Thyme People EBF Novice Stakes.
Cognac was smartly out of the stalls and set the early pace before fading into third. Richard Kingscote sent the winner into the lead as the field entered the straight and the partnership accelerated away to score by four lengths.
“It was all about today really, all the owners could come, and it was the obvious place to run. It was great, we got away with it, he’d probably be better over a straight track,” explained Dascombe.
Dream Kart towed the field home in the Britvic Nursery Handicap five furlongs, to open the card. Shammah was the early leader and was flanked by Sermon and the 9/2 winner in the final furlong as the field veered off the rails.
The opening allowed jockey Franny Norton to kick clear by two and a quarter lengths as Dream Kart responded. Representing his father, the successful trainer, Charlie Johnston said: “Things have gone against her the last two times she has run. The trip and track were ideal, and the race couldn’t have panned out any better today. The field drifted out and she had a clear run, she won quite convincingly today.”
Major Jumbo, the 6/4 favourite, rode the inside rail to good effect in the feature race, the MBNA Queensferry Stakes and was never headed as the race unfolded to record a three and a half length success. Kevon Stott did the steering and said: “He’s been running well all year. We had a good draw and he jumped quickly; the ground was good to soft. I kicked him in the belly two from home and that was job done.”
The Parade with Aiden Byrne Handicap provided racegoers with an exciting finish in front of the stands. Dark Lochnagar was the pace setter but could not match the finishing pace of Gossip Column who finished second and Hereby, with a weight advantage justified a starting price of 9/4 favourite and won by a neck on the line.
Winning jockey Harry Bentley said: “She did everything right today, she’s still a lightly raced filly and she’s quite nimble. She was doing her best work at the end.”
“He’s a tough customer,” said jockey Sean Levey after landing the White Horse EBF Stallions Conditions Stakes with the 11/10 on favourite Oh Purple Reign, who ran on in the closing stages to record a two-length win over Bill Neigh, who occupied second place. “He’s so straight forward and a joy to ride, he hasn’t put a foot wrong. Our horses are able to sit in and then pick up speed, that’s important round here,” added Levey.
Jockey Paul Mulrennan provided owner Marwan Koukash with another Chester Racecourse victory to add to his tally in the Commonhall Street Social Handicap. The win was courtesy of Humble Gratitude who showed late pace to overhaul Club Wexford who had taken a line away from the inside rail.
Mulrennan explained: “He’s been running over a mile and a quarter, I had to take my time because he was drawn wide. He doesn’t do a lot in front, but it was enough! I had plenty of horse underneath me, it was good.”
The 1539 Handicap Stakes concluded the card at 5.20pm, with jockey Harry Bentley riding Scofflaw.
Attendance at the MBNA Family Funday was 22,875 and the next fixture at Chester Racecourse this season is SportPesa Ladies Day on Saturday, 31 August.