Oliver Brett looks at the curiously hot May form of the Sir Mark Prescott stable right through to a decent-looking son of Derby and Arc winner Sea the Stars on the opening day of the Boodles Chester May meeting.
In-form Prescott has Chester Cup fancy:
Sir Mark Prescott's stable does not tend to hit red-hot form in the month of May but with three winners from only seven runs in the past fortnight and a 28% strike rate in all in 2017, things are going very nicely at Heath House. Prescott's most notable win so far has been Marsha's impressive weight-carrying performance in the Palace House Stakes and Luke Morris, on board that day, rides his boss's Sea Of Heaven in the Chester Vase. Third in the Cesarewitch to subsequent Sagaro Stakes winner Sweet Selection, he has a tough wide draw in 14 but is clearly highly respected as he is currently challenging for favouritism at a best-price of 8-1 with Paddy Power, Betfair and William Hill.
King lines up Coral Cup third for big Flat handicap:
Four of the seven Chester Cup winners this decade have been prepared in a predominantly jump-racing yard and Who Dares Wins has the benefit of a good recent run over timber - third in the Coral Cup - and a lovely low weight with 8st-13lb alongside a decent enough draw in seven. Alan King has not won the Chester Cup previously but has a fine record in big-field handicaps across both codes. One quick Chester Cup footnote: poor old Dr Marwan Koukash, such a big supporter of the Festival, has Angel Gabrial, Duke Of Clarence and Suegioo in the race. But none have been granted any favours at all by the handicapper and all are poorly drawn. Hard lines.
O'Brien v Gosden in the Cheshire Oaks?
Aidan O'Brien enjoyed an almost embarrassingly successful weekend, cleaning up at Newmarket with both Guineas and landed a one-two-three in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial. John Gosden surprisingly had just three runners, all beaten, at HQ for Guineas weekend - but the general well-being of his stable was confirmed when all three of his all-weather runners won their races on Monday. These two each pitch an Investec Oaks entry into the Cheshire Oaks on Tuesday. O'Brien's filly, Alluringly, won a Tipperary maiden two and a half weeks ago very comfortably. Enable, Gosden's son of Nathaniel, should appreciate the extended trip and the two are drawn alongside each other respectively in two and three.
And a potential Qatar Racing flagbearer too:
The Qatar Racing operation does not appear to be overflowing with high-class three-year-olds so plenty of faith will be invested in Ralph Beckett's Rich Legacy, a Holy Roman Emperor filly. She represents a bit of value at 6-1 against the two market leaders in the Cheshire Oaks, principally on the back of her May Hill win at Doncaster last autumn. Outclassed at the highest level on two subsequent occasions, she also has a 5lb to shoulder tomorrow. Should she at least go close at the Roodee, then hopes of a decent campaign can begin.
Can Stradivarius strike up a pleasing tune?:
The task of giving 6lb and more to his seven rivals in the Sporting Index Handicp that follows the Chester Cup should be no problem for Stradivarius if this three-year-old colt by Sea The Stars is half as good as he looked when hacking up on his seasonal re-appearance at Beverley. Stradivarius has an interesting entry in the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot - a race his trainer John Gosden has won just once in 1992.
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