EVERY vantage point was used to enjoy the action and atmosphere at Chester racecourse as a crowd of 19,005 made the pilgrimage to the Roodee on Wednesday for Chester Cup day - the start of the May festival meeting.

In contrast to the cheering that greeted Anak Pekan last year when winning the totesport Chester Cup, there was a marked silence from the crowd when the gelding repeated that form to win the 2005 two-miles two-furlongs marathon by one length from Swift Sailor.

Sent off at 16-1 from an unfavourable draw in stall 15 and carrying 13lbs more than last year, Anak Pekan, ridden by Philip Robinson, showed a good turn of foot to wear down longtime leader Romany Price and Swift Sailor approaching the line.

The excitement began with flying fillies in the Joseph Heler Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes. Dusty City showed good early speed but there was a dual between Strike Up The Band and Ooh Aah Camara inside the final furlong.

John Egan, aboard the 9-1 shot Ooh Aah Camara, got up on the line to win by a short head. Winning trainer Vicky Haigh said: 'She's very tough and thrives on her racing. Every time John

pushed her, she responded and battled to get her head in front. We're Royal Ascot bound now!'

Alumni repaid punters' support that had backed her down to 15-8 favourite in the Weatherbys Bank Cheshire Oaks with a three-quarters-of-a-length victory. The Barry Hills-trained filly made all the running and only Higher Love was able to go the pace when she galloped clear from the final bend. Hills explained: 'She travelled well all the way and the Lancashire Oaks is a likely target.'

Taking the shortest route, King's Thought looked to be the winner of the Breitling Watches & Waltons of Chester Handicap Stakes before Tiger Tiger recorded a two-and-a-half-length success as jockey John Egan made it a double.

Trainer Jamie Poulton, who was celebrating his first Chester victory, said: 'We didn't have a great time with him in Dubai, but he's been a good horse and this ground was a big help to him.'

Three horses were in a line around the final bend in the Walker Smith Way Handicap Stakes with Sunset Strip hugging the inside rail. Jockey Kevin Darley kept the 13-8 favourite Quizzene up to his work and the gelding made up ground to score by one-and-a-quarter

lengths from Come On Jonny: 'We'll stick to handicaps with him and take one step at a time,' said winning trainer Mark Johnston.

Favourite backers collected again in the Cheshire Regiment EBF Maiden Stakes when 6-5 chance River Kintyre, ridden by Michael Hills, collected the spoils by three-and-a-half lengths, giving trainer Barry Hills a double.

nThere could be a change to the format of the final day of the Chester May meeting in 2006. Chief executive Richard Thomas said: 'The May meeting always used to end with a hurdle race 100 years ago. This would be going back to tradition, we could prepare the track for both flat and jump racing and we would have four hurdles per circuit.'