Chester Cup Stats and Trends

With the National Hunt season wrapped up for another year, it makes a refreshing change to settle into the flat season, which provides a steady stream of quality fixtures to keep racing fans entertained from May through to the winter. Newmarket’s Guineas meeting is the first headline fixture on the calendar, with Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood, York’s Ebor Meeting, and the St Leger Festival at Doncaster amongst the highlights to come. Sandwiched amongst all those is the biggest meeting of the year at one of the UK’s most distinctive tracks.

The diversity found amongst British courses is one of the features which sets UK racing apart – and there are few tracks quite like Chester. The Roodee course isn’t quite a perfect circle, but it isn’t too far off it – runners who can’t handle running around a bend need not apply.

Idiosyncrasies of the track aside, the three-day May meeting provides a satisfying menu of top-quality action, including trials for the Derby and Oaks and a host of intriguing handicaps. From a punting perspective, the main attraction comes on the closing Friday of the meeting, as the staying handicappers lock horns over the 2m2½f trip of the Chester Cup. Held at the oldest continually running racecourse in the world, this historic event has entertained racegoers for two centuries, but what does it take to succeed? Here, we look back at the 23 editions between 2000 and 2024 (no race in 2020 due to the pandemic) and pick out a few stats and trends which may assist in identifying the winner.

Age of Winner

Chester Cup Age of Winner

Open to all runners aged four and older, recent results suggest we should favour those in the low-mid range of the spectrum. Six-year-olds hold the best record, with an impressive 10 wins from 23 editions (43.47%). 19 of 23 winners (82.61%) were between four and six years of age. Every winner since 1975 has been aged eight or younger.

Weight Carried by Winner

Chester Cup Weight Carried by Winner

Ahead of the 2024 edition, the minimum weight for the Chester Cup was 8st2lb. Runners with a rating of 110 carry 9st12lb. Any runner rated higher than this carries additional weight related to the amount their rating exceeds 110.

Results from the current century suggest that not too much, but not too little, is the place to be, with 18 of 23 winners (78.26%) carrying between 8st9lb and 9st6lb on the day.

Top Sires

Chester Cup Top Sires

The average rating of the winner shows a very slight upward trend in the current century. However, the positive trendline is strongly influenced by the unusually low rating of the 2000 winner.

The average rating of the winner over this period is 96.78, with 16 of 23 editions (69.57%) falling to a runner rated between 93 and 99.

Finishing Position Last Time Out

Chester Cup Finishing Position Last Time Out

A positive performance on their most recent outing has been far from essential in this race, with only 43% of winners finishing in the top four on their previous racecourse appearance. Of those finishing fifth or below, eight winners were bouncing back having finished outside the top 10 when last sighted at the track.

The Draw

Chester Cup Draw of Winner

Considering the race requires the field to race around a tight circular track, it makes sense that it should be an advantage to be drawn low against the inside rail. Sure enough, those drawn low appear to hold an advantage, although the edge is not as strong as expected.

Between 2000 and 2023, 14 of 23 winners (60.87%) emerged from stall seven or below. However, the other nine winners all managed to defy a double-figure draw. If faced with a close decision between runners, favour the horse with a lower draw, but those drawn high shouldn’t be discounted out of hand.

Fate of the Favourite

Big field handicaps are rarely easy to unravel, and such has been the case in the Chester Cup. Between 2000 and 2023, only two market leaders came home in front – handing favourite backers a loss of £12 to £1 level stakes.

Overall, 11 of the 23 winners returned a single-figure SP, and 10 were priced between 10/1 and 16/1. The biggest shock came courtesy of the 33/1 success of Bulwark in 2008.

Other Stats

  • Jamie Spencer, Jim Crowley, Philip Robinson, Richard Hughes, and Ryan Moore led the way amongst jockeys with two wins apiece.
  • Barry Hills, Donald McCain, Ian Williams, Michael Jarvis, and Richard Fahey were the only trainers with more than one win – each hitting the mark on two occasions.
  • 15 of 23 winners had run within the last 60 days.
  • 18 of 23 winners had previously won over 2m or further.
  • 19 of 23 winners had previously won at Class 2 level or above.
  • Only four winners had previously won at Chester.
  • Galileo was the only sire with more than one individual winner to his name – No Heretic (2016) and Falcon Eight (2021).
  • Five winners ran over hurdles last time out.