By Charlie McCann
With further rain forecast at Chester it is safe to assume that the ground will be soft for the final day’s action on the Roodee. I have always felt that the draw is not as significant at Chester on soft ground as the runners fan out in the home straight often coming to the stands’ side in search of better ground.
In the opener Andrew Balding’s Here Comes When (1.45) gets the vote coming back from a 324-day lay-off at a track where won over C&D at last year’s meeting on good ground. He has a decent record fresh (won first time out as a juvenile) and has long been considered a decent prospect. He hasn’t been seen on the track since finishing in midfield in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot last year and talented apprentice Oisin Murphy takes off a valuable 3lbs.
In the Ormond Stakes I am going with Brown Panther (2.45) for local trainer Tom Dascombe and owner Michael Owen. The selection finished last of four in this race two years ago but that was palpably not his form and he is best judged on his win in the Goodwood Cup back in August. The selection’s main early season objective is the Ascot Gold Cup next month but he will have to run well here en route to the Royal meeting.
Hillstar won a sub-standard King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot back in June and this is the furthest trip he will have been tried over; he broke his maiden on soft ground but his best form is on good or faster ground. Mount Athos looks the danger for the same Marco Botti/Dr Marwan Koukash combination that landed the Chester Cup earlier in the week having won the corresponding race last year by 9 lengths when making all for Jamie Spencer. He is likely to try the same tactics this afternoon.
Two of the filly Blithe Spirit’s (3.15) three career wins have come at Chester and she can make it three out of four in the following 5f handicap; the form of her defeat to Mecca’s Angel at Thirsk last month has been franked in no uncertain terms by the winner.
Irish raider Fine Cut is a fascinating runner on a hat-trick but the danger could be the Tim Easterby trained See The Sun returning to the minimum trip having finished runner up at Pontefract last month over the stiff six.
At Ascot Chocala (6.05) is given another chance in the 2m handicap having finished third behind two of the placed horses in the Chester Cup (Angel Gabrial and Mubaraza) at Ripon on his return to the flat. The selection should appreciate the ground having won twice on a similar surface last term and he has been dropped 1lb from his reappearance.
I’m not convinced Zerfaal (8.20), brother to former Guineas’ winner Makfi, was in love with the tight Nottingham turns and fast ground last time but he broke his maiden at the third attempt and begins life handicapping of what looks a workable mark of 80. The form of his defeat to Crystal Lake at Kempton back in March is working out very well with the winner having landed both subsequent starts including from a mark of 81 at Kempton earlier in the week.
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