Our racing expert gives his verdict on each of the four Chester races being shown live on ITV4.
1:50 5f (5f15y) Stellar Group Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes (Plus 10 Race) (Class 2) (2yo)
Kinks has improved since losing out by a head to Lihou in a Kempton novice, winning twice, but the latter horse is much better drawn today in stall five. He rates the main danger to my idea of the winner and current favourite NO LIPPY, who made all on her debut at Doncaster despite being edgy in the stalls and then showing signs of greenness when wandering under pressure. Mark Johnston’s filly should come on considerably for that experience and the bright pace she showed on Town Moor will stand her in good stead here, with stall four no real hindrance either.
2:25 1m3½f (1m3f75y) Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks (For The Robert Sangster Memorial Cup) (Listed Race) (Fillies) (Class 1) (3yo)
Aidan O’Brien, who has won five of the last ten renewals, saddles three in what looks a sub-standard edition, with Magic Wand being the mount of Ryan Moore. She’s shown promise in a couple of Leopardstown maidens and has the profile of a potential improver, which can also be said of her stablemate Dramatically now that she is upped significantly in trip.
Last year’s winning trainer John Gosden saddles recent Wetherby winner Award Winning and she too is entitled to come on again, although she has quite a long stride and therefore this track might not be ideal.
But the one to be on in my mind is Ralph Beckett’s KINAESTHESIA despite the fact she lacks a run and has a wide draw in stall nine to overcome. The daughter of Sea The Stars showed battling qualities when winning her maiden at Nottingham, which is a track her trainer tends to run his best filly youngsters at, and her pedigree suggests she is going to shine over middle distances this term, with the Oaks and Ribblesdale amongst her list of entries. The stable form – 6-30 (20%) in the last fortnight – is another positive.
3:00 5f (5f15y) Boodles Diamond Handicap (Class 2) (3yo 0-105)
It often pays to back those closest to the rail blind in sprint races at the track, such is the bias, and I’m not going to make an exception here as both LOOKS A MILLION and GLOBAL ACADEMY, who are drawn in one and two respectively, have plenty else to recommend them. I’m just favouring the latter horse as he looks an ideal type in that he is invariably quick away and wasn’t for catching when breaking smartly to record an easy success at Wolverhampton in January. He was again best away when fifth under today’s rider Gerald Mosse at Sandown 12 days ago and a similar display here might just suffice.
But I’m going to split stakes on him and Looks A Million as he too is not short of speed and is going to appreciate dropping into handicap company for the first time, having done a lot of his racing in Listed company (placed at that level at two). Furthermore, his trainer Joseph Tuite has made a cracking start to the his month with a couple of winners, one under today’s pilot Oisin Murphy, and three others in the first three (one at 33/1) from just seven runners. A reverse forecast on the pair wouldn’t be the daftest bet either.
3:35 1m4½f (1m4f63y) Centennial Celebration – MBNA Chester Vase Stakes (Group 3) (Colts & Geldings) (Class 1) (3yo)
Aidan O’Brien has dominated this race in recent years and his Hunting Horn is favourite in most lists to give him a sixth success. The son of Camelot was getting off the mark at the third attempt at Naas in April and came on again when third in a Group 3 at Sandown later that month.
However, he doesn’t look one of the stable stars and might again finish behind the Sandown second, Charlie’s Appleby’s ISPOLINI, a 1,200,000gns yearling who might have some star quality about him. That was a cracking effort to split two race-fit rivals and it can be marked up further as he started racing a long way out with the eventual fourth, setting it up for the winner Sevenna Star, who mugged him on the line. A more measured ride over this longer trip, which should suit, can see him go one better and book his ticket to Epsom in early June.
All odds were correct at time of posting.