CHESTER’S first ever Retail Cup was officially launched to promote city shops during racing season.

Chief executive of the Chester Race Company, Richard Thomas, said: “Chester Racecourse is delighted to be able to bring the fun of Chester Races into the city through the Retail Cup.

“The idea of working with our wonderful retailers to promote both the prestigious Tote Chester Cup and, of course, Chester's unique shopping offer is a very exciting one.

“Some 250,000 people come racing in Chester every year and making those racegoers aware of what our superb city has to offer would seem to make good sense for everyone.

“We look forward to seeing the Chester Retail Cup on May 1 and of course to the Chester Cup on May 6.”

Boots, Brown’s of Chester, Chester Market, Cruise Nightclub, Dee 106.3, Grosvenor Shopping Centre, Mankind, Marks & Spencer, New Look, Purely Wicked, Rufus Court and Tesco (Sealand Road) are all taking part.

Chester city coordinator Stephen Wundke said: “The Chester Cup Parade is an important innovation for the city.

“I think May 1 will be a fun day andŠI hope that the inaugural Chester Retail Cup builds to become a must-see event in years to come.”

Celebrating the start of the race season and the famous Chester Cup on the May 6, city centre retailers will be competing in their own race on Friday, May 1.

The 12 hobby horse riders will parade around the city centre before the race is started by the Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Brian Bailey, at the Eastgate Clock at 1.15pm.

They will then gallop along the one and a half furlong course to The Cross and back to the finish line with commentary from Channel 4’s Graham Goode.

Children from Highfield Primary School, Blacon will also join in.