WITH a host of bank holiday attractions, it remained business as usual at Chester Racecourse when two days of action attracted big crowds.
Last Friday, 10,433 people came through the gates and on Saturday there were 19,106 present.
Roodee chief executive Richard Thomas said: 'We did fear the worst - it's the first time this meeting has clashed with a holiday weekend. But the poor weather forecast has helped as people haven't gone away.'
Racing began with the David McLean Maiden Fillies' Stakes and a two-length victory for the Henry Cecil trained Thumpers Dream. Royston Ffrench had the 11-4 shot placed on the inside rail after a circuit and went clear to win unchallenged.
In the Global Travel Handicap Stakes, Paul Hanagan got the run of the race aboard 16-1 outsider Inter Vision who stayed the seven furlong trip to win by a head from Areyoutalkingtome.
The pacemaker, Suhayl Star, was unable to retain his lead when Andrew Mullen took advantage of his five-pound claim aboard the 9-2 chance Orpen Prince in the Surrenda-Link Nursery Handicap to come with a well-timed run inside the final furlong and snatch the race by half a length.
Pretty Majestic, sent off at 13-8, lived up to her name with a smooth two-length success in the European Breeders Fund Combermere Fillies' Conditions Stakes. Slowly away for jockey Tadhg O'Shea, the filly showed a good turn of foot to open up a two-length margin, relegating Blue Rocket to second.
Michael Hills was aboard the 5-6 favourite Heaven Knows in the Alexander Events Handicap Stakes and came with his winning run down the centre of the course and galloped to a one-and-a-half-length victory. Trainer William Haggas said: 'I hope he's as good as his half brother (Notnowcato). He's in the Cambridge-shire and he's improving. We won't do much more this year - we'll treat him like a good 'un. He's bred to get better as he gets older.'
Racing closed with the penultimate leg of the Bollinger Champagne Challenge Series Handicap Stakes and an exciting finish between York Cliff and 7-1 shot Rams-gill, who got up on the line by a short head for jockey Sam Pearce.
Saturday's racing began with the William T Corbett EBF Maiden Stakes. The field broke evenly and Barry Hills runner Ravi River justified being sent off the evens favourite showing speed to gain a smooth half-length success over Minos.
The 4-5 favourite duly obliged by three lengths in the betterbetcorbett EBF Conditions Stakes. Francis Norton made all aboard Gold Spirit and trainer Eoghan O'Neill said: 'It's good ground out there. He's progressive and he's done the guys who own him proud.'
Front running tactics paid off again in the Raymond Corbett Stakes (Heritage Handicap). Ordnance Row hit the front after a swift break from the stalls and the 20-1 outsider galloped resolutely to the line for jockey Matt Henry scoring by one length.
New Guinea, an 11-4 shot, provided Matthew Henry with a quick double in the betterbetcorbett Chester Handicap Stakes. The winner went the shortest way round and showed a good turn of foot to pull out and pass the leaders up the centre of the course with two-lengths in hand at the winning post.
Henry said: 'He's improved all year and I was optimistic off his light weight.'
The betterbetcorbett 'In Running' Handicap was won in the final strides by 9-1 chance Establishment ridden by Robert Winston who stayed to score by one length from Velvet Heights.
Two successful days ended with the betterbetcorbett Handicap Stakes and a one-length win for Coconut Moon, sent off at 17-2 and ridden by David Allen.