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Metier powers home to grab Chester Cup glory

Metier finished with a flourish to claim top honours in a thrilling renewal of the tote Chester Cup.

A Grade One winner over hurdles a couple of years ago, Harry Fry’s charge successfully reverted to the Flat to lift last season’s November Handicap at Doncaster under Saffie Osborne, who was again on board.

Results under both codes since have been mixed, but having returned to form with a second place in the Queen’s Cup at Musselburgh last month, Metier was among the market principals for Chester’s £150,000 showpiece at 5-1 and produced the goods in a grandstand finish.

The seven-year-old was well back in the field for much of the two-and-a-quarter-mile journey, but began to make inroads on the leaders before the home turn and powered up the straight.

Zoffee got the better of a duel with 11-4 favourite Call My Bluff to grab the lead, but was unable to resist the late surge of Metier, who passed the post a neck to the good under his jubilant rider.

Osborne said: “It didn’t really go right through the race, I was too far back and he was all guts.

“I was saying what a tough horse he is, but he’s also extremely talented and still fairly unexposed at this trip on the Flat. You’d like to think there’s more left in the tank.

“He’s just got a lot of ability and for a big horse he’s very well balanced to go round a track like this. I was having to make up ground on a part of a track that I didn’t really want to have to, but he was making it feel very easy and I didn’t want to check his momentum.”

Fry, paying his first ever visit to Chester, said: “We’ve had some good runs and near misses in big races, but this means such a lot – it keeps our head above the parapet.

“We knew the draw (stall 14) wasn’t ideal, but Saffie sat as far forward as she could. She’s given him an absolutely wonderful ride.

“Watching him go past here on the final circuit he was 12th, but all he’s done in the straight is keep rolling and rolling.

“He’s shown all his best form on slower ground, but getting the right horses at the right time is really what it boils down to.

“It’s my first time here at Chester and walking round the course I thought ‘what an amazing place’.”

Ben Curtis, rider of the narrowly beaten runner-up Zoffee, was proud of his performance in defeat.

He said: “That was a hell of a training performance by Hugo (Palmer), to have him near spot-on after seven months off.

“The race went well for us, it was a good battle to the line but possibly the winner might have been more race-fit. Take nothing away from our horse though, he’s run a blinder.”

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