Day 2 of the Chester May meeting and the focus is on the Derby hopefuls at 3.35, when the MBNA Chester Vase Stakes takes place.
This contest has been won by Aiden O’Brien for the past 4 years and, in a bid to complete the nap hand, he saddles exactly half of the eight-runner field.
Favourite in all books is Ryan Moore’s choice of mount, Venice Beach, available at 5-2 as we go to press. This Galileo colt was an impressive 5 length winner of a Tipperary maiden 3 weeks ago, leaving some fair opponents in his wake and gave the impression that there was plenty more to come. The bare form doesn’t stack up against the likes of Johnny G’s Cunco, who won the Group 3 bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown on his reappearance and is unpenalised here, but in terms of sheer potential, we recommend sticking with the fav, on the grounds that trainer and jockey know the time of day.
The card starts at 1.50 with the (deep breath) Gateley PLC Changing The Legal Landscape Handicap over a mile and a quarter(ish) and, at the risk of being boring, the favourite looks nailed on for this too. The beast in question is the Sir Michael trained Khairaat, which can, and should, be backed at 5-4.
Unraced at two, this Shamardal colt is a typical late developer and all three runs last season witnessed steps forward and steps up in trip. There is little doubt that his trainer excels with horses like this and an opening handicap mark of 91 should be well within the compass, before going onwards and upwards later in the season. Main opposition will probably come from Brorocco, which stormed home at Epsom under the evergreen Jimmy Quinn and is only 4lbs higher here, but methinks this flat, tight track will not suit this big horse, especially starting from Trap 8.
The day ends with another handicap over the same trip and we recommend an investment on the Hugo Palmer trained 4-y-o Banish at 3-1. Always likely to make a better 4-y-o than at 3, this gelding ran a race full of promise on seasonal debut at Doncaster, finishing well into fifth and, with the cobwebs blown away, may take this field apart. That man Moore has been booked and, for statisticians, the only previous time he has sat on this horse they won.
Not a day for long priced winners then, but hark, I think I can hear a Trixie approaching.