Tuesday, 4 May 2021

1:45 Chester Lily Agnes Stakes (5th May)

At the time of writing, the best two-year-old race of the season. 

The Lily Agnes has a long and rich history, named after an exceptional race horse in the latter 19th century (1871 - 1899) and winner of 21 races and famous for being the mother of Triple Crown winner Ormonde in 1886.

However, for most punters who enjoy their two-year-old racing the Lily Agnes Stakes means Chester racing is on the cards and some fast juveniles hoping to add to their success. 

From 16 entrants, this 5f sprint has been whittled away to just seven juveniles, including five winners. 

Take a look at the previous winners to get an idea of what we may expect this year. 

As we can see, over the last eight years (no race in 2020 due to the Corona Virus pandemic) this race usually goes to a fancied horse. In fact, the biggest odds in recent years came in 2014 when Mark Johnston's Mukhmal won at 6/1. The shortest price being No Lippy, similarly trained, at odds of 6/5f in 2018. 

The 2019 winner came from David O'Meara's Great Dame who won at 7/2. 

Keep an eye on the going which is presently good to soft as it could make a big difference to the draw and stamina. 

So after than basic introduction let's take a look at the 2021 Lily Agnes Entrants:

1 -  Armor - trained by Richard Hannon - Form 1 

2 -  Devious Angel - trained by Tom Dascombe - Form 71

3 -  Navello - trained by George Boughey - Form 811 

4 -  Beauzon - trained by David O'Meara - Form 61

5 - Lucy Lulu - trained by Roger Fell - Form 1 

6 - Fair And Square - trained by Ron Harris - Form 2 

7 - Mojomaker - trained by David Loughnane - Form -

Analysis: 

First thoughts, quite an open race with a few horses with ifs and buts. 

*Armor ran well on debut holding the late challenge in a four-horse race at Doncaster. Difficult to assess the quality of that form. Hannon's been firing in the winners this two-year-old season so it's a positive this son of No Nay Never has been selected. A compact sort who showed good pace on debut and not badly drawn. 

Devious Angel was friendless in the market when blazing a trail to pulverise her opponents at Southwell. This daughter of Cotai Glory is speedy, as shown on debut, and well drawn in stall two. She looks the type to enjoy this turning course and is very likely to lead. The negative is that the Southwell race looked pretty average and although winning by five-and-a-half lengths this is going to be a stiffer task. She will give this a bold show but may be susceptible to a late challenger. 

Navello didn't have much luck on debut but made up for it when winning second time out for George Boughey at Wolverhampton and then flattening his rivals at Brighton. It's interesting that the owner of sire, Ivawood, kept this horse for herself. A prime draw in stall one may be a problem for this colt. He has ability but I would seriously question whether he has the pace to compete with these horses in the early stages. In fact, I'm convinced he will be outpaced and the tissue odds of 11/4 would prompt me to bet in running at much bigger odds. Navello could well play a strong hand at the finish as it is often a strength to run on at the business end. A horse I would have to bet in running and that may well be a wise option. 

Beauzon was a touch unlucky on debut when wandering off a straight line, making him look worse than he his at Beverley. He ran out an easy winner at Ripon. The favourite ran no race that day and it was a dire contest. O'Meara has a few winners to pick from which adds substance to this horse but, again, has something going for it but may need to improve. 

*Lucy Lulu is making a quick return after a very good victory on debut at Doncaster. Roger Fell has trained a few two-year-old winners over the years but his connection with Nick Bradley Racing is proving fruitful. This daughter of Muhaarar is a supreme purchase at just 18,000gns. The judgment of booking of Mark Crehan for debut was inspired, taking off a valuable 5lb which was difference between winning and losing. This filly has good pace and could well be vying for the lead. She may be a value bet and hold each-way claims at 12/1 although only two places is far from ideal. It was no mean feat beating Richard Hannon's Tyson who is well respected. 

*Fair And Square was nibbled in the betting on debut at Windsor. Ron Harris has had a few talented juveniles over the years although few of any real class. This son of Kodiac is a nice physical type and showed good speed on debut. It was a fair effort although more is needed. 

Mojomaker is the only debutante in the field. David Loughnane is very capable trainer and owner David Lowe has done well with his horses over recent years. It's a stiff ask to win at Chester at the best of times let alone on debut. This son of Mehmas cost £40,000 at the yearling sales. Is likely to suffer from inexperience and a slow start here, playing catch up, is a hard work. 

Conclusion: Never an easy race to appreciate or bet in ways. I can see more horses here with problems than positives and question marks. If Navello isn't outpaced I'd be amazed (just for reference, that is outpaced in the early stages). Armor has claims but at the odds I can't see any value. Devious Angel has good pace but may be lacking at the finish. Lucy Lulu may have claims at double-figure odds but this is a race I would rather watch than bet. 

A fascinating race in its own way.

Fair And Square, Lucy Lulu, Armor (NR)  

Graphic: Racing Post

Author: Jason Coote

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