The feature race on Day One of Chester’s May Meeting is the Group 3 Chester Vase and Aidan O’Brien – who has saddled the winner five times in the last six years – runs two including Norway (3/1 favourite at BetVictor) whose full-brother Ruler Of The World won this corresponding race in 2013 before going on to win the Derby.
O’Brien has hinted that three of his main Derby fancies – Japan, Broome and Anthony Van Dyck – will take each other on in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown on Sunday, but Norway was a fluent winner of the listed Zetland Stakes at Newmarket as a juvenile and is only 16/1 at BetVictor for Epsom glory.
Having landed a Guineas’ double at the weekend it might be folly to oppose Ballydoyle who run three well-bred and lightly-raced colts’ in the race, but I would be disappointed if King Ottokar (3.35) did not run a very big race and he gets the vote – 4/1 with BetVictor – for Charlie Fellowes.
The selection will appreciate the forecast rain having created such a favourable impression when scoring at Newbury over 10f on his reappearance. Connections immediately nominated the listed Dee Stakes here over 10f tomorrow as his likely trial to see if they had a potential classic colt on their hands, but they have decided to aim higher although his stamina is not guaranteed as he steps up to 12f.
O’Brien has also trained the winner of the Cheshire Oaks three times in the last four years. The yard’s Secret Thoughts – daughter of an Irish Oaks winner – looks to have inherited plenty of her dam’s stamina having made steady progress from the rear when a staying on fifth behind 1000 Guineas runner up Lady Kaya at Leopardstown last month.
Manuela De Vega (2.25) is unbeaten in two starts for Ralph Beckett but must race with a 3lbs penalty picked up when scoring in listed company at Pontefract last autumn. The filly is 5/2 at BetVictor to land her hat-trick and I will be disappointed if she doesn’t run a big race although the 3lb impost does muddy the waters.
My selection in the opening Lily Agnes Stakes would have been Dr Simpson for Tom Dascombe but a draw on the wing in stall 11 looks to have scuppered his chances, and a similar sentiment applies to the filly Electric Ladybird in stall ten.
The vote goes to recent Ripon winner Great Dame (1.50) who made all to win at Ripon last time and has a good draw in stall three to make a bold bid from the front for David O’Meara. She gets the each way vote at 11/2 with BetVictor and receives 8lbs from Brockelsby winner Show Me Show Me who is drawn in eight.
I hope Jane Elliot can get the fractions right on board Wild Edric (4.35) who made a pleasing reappearance when fourth at Pontefract last month. A C&D winner on soft ground here as a juvenile, he is well drawn in stall three for one who like to race prominently. Any significant rain would be a plus.
There is rain also forecast at Newton Abbot and in a cracking Beginners’ Chase I am going to take a chance on the fitness of Over To Sam (2.35) who won his first two career starts – including a point – has a good record fresh and returns to the track following an 800-day lay-off for Harry Fry. Paul Nicholls’ trains two and Truckers Lodge looks first choice with Harry Cobden booked, but a case can be made for all six runners in terrific contest.
I hope it is a good day for horses returning to the track from a long absence from the Fry yard as Bullionaire (3.10) has his first start since finishing second in a listed Bumper at Ascot over 500-days ago. The selection has had his wind operated on in the interim period and has his tongue tied down for his reappearance and first start over timber.
If the rain arrives as forecast I hope to see You Say What (4.45) make a bod bid for David Pipe in the 3m 2f Handicap Chase. The selection finished third at Exeter last time over 3m 5f and this slight drop back in trip should suit. A market move for Kim Bailey’s Thumb Stone Blues would be worth noting.
At Fontwell this evening I’m looking forward to seeing the hurdles debut of Lily The Pink (5.45) although she was just touched off in a Bumper here when last seen two months ago. The mare is a winning pointer and Rex Dingle takes off a valuable 5lbs.