RACING has returned to Chester Racecourse for 2021.

The first day of the Boodles May Festival has taken place today (Wednesday, May 5), albeit sadly with crowds still unable to be present to watch the racing action up close.

Due to Covid restrictions, the event has had to take place 'behind closed doors', with punters able to watch the action unfold on TV or on the internet.

The first day of action – City Day – has seen Andrew Balding’s Youth Spirit causing a minor upset with a clear-cut victory in the Chester Vase, defeating pre-race favourite Wirko.

Youth Spirit finished with gusto under Tom Marquand to prevail by a length and three-quarters.

Marquand said: “To be honest he was a bit behind the bridle, this was my first time riding him and it looked like he did that over nine furlongs at Newmarket.

“That must just be his run style because when I sat into him and gave him a proper squeeze coming to the three he was all there for me.

“The one question he had to answer was the trip, but you’d have to say he hit the line extremely well. It was a muddly race, but he’ll stay in an honest-run race as well.

“Chester is a funny old place and if you swing out your race can be over, but I followed William and I knew he’d take me into the guts of the race. He was really tough, stuck his head out and was there for me.”

In the ICM Stellar Sports Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes, pre-race favourite Navello pulled six lengths clear to romp home for victory, ridden by Nicola Currie.

Dubai Fountain, ridden by Franny Norton, won the Weatherbys ePassport Cheshire Oaks race, while Showalong, ridden by David Allan, triumphed in the tote+ At Handicap.

Paws For Thought, ridden by Richard Kingscote, took the honours in the tote+ Pays You More At Handicap and Alfaadhel, ridden by Jim Crowley, were victorious in the Boodles Maiden Stakes.