CHANGING THE GUARD can give Aidan O’Brien a perfect 10th victory in the Boodles Chester Vase Stakes (Colts & Geldings) (3.40pm) and book his ticket to Epsom on the opening day of the Chester May Festival on Wednesday.
Practice for next month’s Cazoo Derby is underway and the Group Three feature on the Roodee sees another big clash between the two big racing operations, Coolmore and Godolphin.
Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby struck first with Coreobus’ fine victory over stable mate Native Trial at the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday, with O’Brien’s Luxembourg putting on a fine Derby trial in third. He is the current 2-1 favorite with most companies for Epsom glory on June 4.
Close behind him in betting at around 5-1 is Appleby’s New London, who seemed like a smart middle-distance artist in the making. He won on his Newmarket debut in the fall and again impressed by going two out of two on his seasonal reappearance at the Craven meeting at HQ.
He looks a decent prospect, but on this occasion O’Brien’s changing of the guard could drop his colors and join Ballydoyle’s likely big Derby side.
Colt Galileo’s best effort in three juvenile starts was when he finished second to stable mate River Thames at Punchestown in September. But he broke his first tag with an impressive six-length success taken to 1m2f at Dundalk when he returned to action last month.
He looks a progressive colt and can step up the journey at 1m4f and in group three company in his stride to put a damper on New London Derby hopes.
Donald McCain, born in Merseyside, is best known for his success on the jumps and in particular when he won the Grand National with Ballabriggs at Aintree Racecourse in 2011. But he also targets races on his track” home” of Chester, winning the Chester Cup at that meeting. twice with Overturn and Ile De Re in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
He’s also had other winners at the May meeting in the past and LEGS FOR THOUGHT can be added to those who won the Stephen Wade Handicap (4:45 p.m.).
The four-year-old won in that six-stadium encounter last year for McCain’s former neighbor Tom Dascombe of Michael Owen’s Manor House stables.
He was also a course and distance winner on those seven furlongs as a juvenile and although he hasn’t scored since that win 12 months ago, he is on a decent handicap mark. The change of scenery at McCain’s stable and return to the Roodee could see him score again.
Willie Haggas’ HELLO JUMEIRAH can upset the favorite Above the curve and set up a marker for the Cazoo Oaks with a victory in the Weatherbys Bloodstock Pro Cheshire Oaks (for the Robert Sangster Memorial Cup) (Fillies) (2:40 p.m.).
The Golden Horn filly won on her debut at Kempton last month and she can progress again to claim two wins from two starts and book her ticket to the Fillies Classic at Epsom on June 3.
Hugo Palmer replaced Dascombe as coach at Owen’s Cheshire stables and he can stand out in a game where the former Liverpool FC striker likes to have winners with NEVER GIVEN in the Deepbridge Handicap (3:40 p.m.).
The three-year-old is a course and distance winner and also won a big pot at the Ebor meeting in York last year. Although he has to give weight throughout the course, he has a good draw in stall two and has the best form in the race.
He may be another ‘home’ winner for the Cheshire team.
by David O’Meara LADY’S STAR M also has a convenient draw in stall two for the opener, the ICM Stellar Sports Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes (GBB Race) (1:30 p.m.).
The two-year-old filly has been prominent in her two wins so far at Ripon and Redcar and with a handy berth she can break well, get to the front and bring them home. A third victory could set her up for a potential trip to Royal Ascot next month.
Others who can win on the opening day of Chester’s May Festival are Appleby’s SECRET STATUSwhich will be ridden by Liverpool FC fan William Buick, in the Edinburgh Gin Maiden Stakes (GBB Race) (4:15 p.m.) and Andrew Balding’s well drawn NYMPHADORA in the five-furlong tote.co.uk Free Chester Placepot Every Day Handicap (2.05pm).
Wright Ones on the Roodee
CHESTER MAY FESTIVAL (DAY 1)
1:30 pm Star of Lady M
2:05 p.m. Nymphadora
2:40 p.m. Hello Jumeirah
3:10 p.m. Changing of the guard
3:40 p.m. never given
4:15 p.m. Secret State
4:45 p.m. Paws for thought (NAP)