Trainer extraordinaire Nicky Henderson added Chester to his list of big-meeting triumphs this spring when sending out No Heretic to lift the Betway Chester Cup.
After nailing notable victories at the jumps festivals at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown, as well as at Sandown, Henderson turned his attention to the Flat.
And No Heretic (11-1), having his first run on the level for over 972 days, advertised the Seven Barrows trainer’s dual-purpose skills.
Having raced keenly in the early stages, the eight-year-old hung on determinedly under Jamie Spencer to deny Nakeeta by a short head, with Silver Concorde third and Gabrial The Hero fourth.
Speaking from Kelso, Henderson said: “It was a fantastic effort. He is a real individual and, as you saw in the race, he didn’t give Jamie Spencer any respite.
“He had a very good draw, which helped, and we had to make the most of that.
“He run a good race over hurdles at Newbury and he was entitled to get a bit tired as it was his first run on the Flat since 2013.
“He is a good jumper at home now but we will probably keep him on the Flat now and keep that up our sleeve for the autumn.
“There is the Ascot Stakes, but let’s have a look and see first as the owners also have Cardinal Walter, who, although is in the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday, will probably run at York next week.”
Aidan O’Brien is hoping Somehow (8-15 favourite) will have learnt plenty from the demanding experience Chester provides ahead of the Investec Oaks after she struggled to land the odds in the Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks.
The daughter of 2006 Oaks heroine Alexandrova, Somehow was off the bridle at an early stage and not handling the unique contours.
She was last at halfway with Ryan Moore just trying to keep tabs on the leaders.
However, once the pace quickened, Somehow began to respond and she got up close home to take the Listed spoils by half a length from Moorside.
The Ballydoyle handler said: “Ryan was very happy with her but she’s very sleepy.
“As a two-year-old she showed plenty of pace when we worked her over four furlongs.
“Mentally, she hasn’t really kicked in yet. She’s always been a laid-back filly, but around here it’s a very quick place.
“We’re going to hope then when we do a bit with her next week, she’ll come alive. That’s what we’re hoping. She’s had three runs now.”
Moore, who won the concluding Deepbridge Capital Handicap with 5-2 chance Red Verdon, received a two-day ban (May 18-19) for careless riding aboard Somehow.
Copper Knight (11-4) struck for 2000 Guineas winning-trainer Hugo Palmer in the Stellar Group Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes.
Just a few days on from landing his first British Classic with Galileo Gold, Palmer was celebrating again as Copper Knight bounded home by two lengths in the hands of James Doyle.
“He is a winner now and we could carry a penalty in a novice event or we could go for something like the National Stakes at Sandown, which is on another draw-bias track,” said Palmer.
“Maybe we might step him up to six furlongs for the Woodcote at Epsom.
“Royal Ascot is the meeting you want to end up at so we could end up looking at either the Windsor Castle or the Norfolk Stakes.”
Sir Maximilian (5-2 joint-favourite) is bound for the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot after showing his well-being with an emphatic victory in the Homeserve Conditions Stakes.
Meanwhile, Franny Norton showed why he is top jockey on the Roodee when shining on Kimberella (5-1) for Thirsk trainer Dandy Nicholls in the Boodles Diamond Handicap.
The Liverpool-born rider launched the six-year-old past Roudee inside the final furlong to score by three-quarters of a length.
After finishing second on his debut at Newmarket last month, the impeccably-bred Mulk (30-100 favourite), trained by Michael Stoute, duly brushed the opposition aside as he got off the mark by two and three-quarter lengths in the Stellar Group Maiden Stakes under Paul Hanagan.
“He ran a super race first time and he’s improved,” said Richard Hills, racing manager to owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum. We needed to teach him a bit more so we brought him here.
“He relaxed good, so there’s no reason why he won’t get further. Paul had trouble pulling him up.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved