Day two of the May meeting on the Roodee doesn’t have as big a highlight as The Chester Cup but is a good card featuring a number of interesting races all the same.
Our selection gave us a good run for our money in the big race yesterday, racing from the front and looking as if he was in with a chance before fading late on to finish sixth. Andrew Balding sounded fairly positive in his pre-race comments in the Racing Post and he has a very good record at Chester, but I really couldn’t see Montaly winning even if he did have the required low-draw. Again, three of the first four were drawn low, with Fun Mac running a terrific race to finish third from a wide draw.
With no big race as such today, we’ll keep our selections on the brief side.
2:25 Huxley Stakes: This looks to be a really competitive affair with a number of horses who have shown a decent level of form and the potential to improve. The current favourite Deauville, who won the Belmont Derby last year and will love the quicker going here, made a promising UK reappearance a fortnight ago when finishing second to Ulysses who looks a typical Sir Michael Stoute four-year-old improver who will go on to much bigger things. I expect Deauville to be bang there but it might pay to side with Poet’s Word at a slightly bigger price. He’s yet to show the same level of form as Deauville but like Ulysses he does have the profile of a Stoute horse who will show lots of improvement between three and four. It wasn’t the most competitive affair he won at Chelmsford on his seasonal debut but he couldn’t have won any more impressively and he will like the faster ground here, so he could be the value bet at a current price of 3/1.
3:35 Chester Vase: Although only Ruler Of The World has gone on to win the Derby after success in this trial, the Vase has had some top class horses come out of it in recent years with Treasure Beach and Soldier Of Fortune notable winners for Aiden O’Brien.
O’Brien has an exceptional record in this race, winning the last four renewals and seven in the last ten. He is responsible for four of the eight runners here and I expect him to extend his winning record. From his four contenders there isn’t an absolute standout, but then there isn’t in the Derby market itself, and all could realistically win if on a going day and improving. However, our preference is for the apparent stable number one Venice Beach. The most inexperienced of the O’Brien horses, he has the most room for improvement and won in a style to suggest there is more to come; he looks like an O’Brien horse who will steadily improve from one run to the next.
It doesn’t look the strongest of fields and you could easily see any in the line-up winning. Tamleek won well last time, Cunco won on reappearance and Count Octave could improve for the in-form Balding yard and would make the most appeal for each way betting.