Just the one joint favourite in the six renewals of this race so far and that was Marcret last year as he followed up his 2014 victory, but sadly he is not here for the hat-trick and we will have to look elsewhere. At a tight track like Chester the draw is all important and Alejandro (9/2) is drawn nice and low in the one stall for trainer David O’Meara. Now a seven-year-old, his current rating is a long way below his very best at 86 and he has won off 94 so we know we aren’t asking for too much, but can his astute trainer get him back to the form of 2014 we wonder? Truth is, probably not but he is clearly well weighted and with a recent Beverley second off just a pound lower he arrives here with a sporting chance if nothing else.
We prefer the chances of Irish raider Plough Boy (9/1 Each Way)) who looks the value call and will be the one we back this afternoon. Well drawn in the three stall, he won a shade cleverly at The Curragh three races ago over this trip when beating Texas Rock by three-quarters of a length staying on strongly, and dropped a couple of pounds after failing to see out a mile last time out, he has as good a chance as any this afternoon and is way overpriced in our view.
Sir Billy Wright (7/1) arrives here in decent enough form but hasn’t been done any favours by getting given the twelve stall. Second in his last two races over six furlongs he has plenty of speed when needed but has won over this trip so his stamina is not in question. Only put up a pound for a neck second to Munfallet at Chepstow last month, he was running on strongly that day so may be even better over the seventh furlong here, but that was a class four handicap and he will need to improve if he wants to take a hand in this better contest.
Whenever we write a race preview and Mark Johnston has a runner we always have a look and Haley Bop (8/1) could be well weighted here. A daughter of the classy Dream Ahead, she is dropping in class after finishing last of thirteen at York off a rating of 88, but she hasn’t even been dropped a pound for that which seems a little harsh. She has won over a mile so is perhaps better over further but then again this could well be run hell for leather, in which case she can be brought with a well time run by Franny Norton if she is good enough of course.
Mick Channon continues in good heart and he has Gratzie (9/1) in here as the five-year-old looks for his seventh win though it will need to be a career best today. He looked as good as ever when third to Get Order over a mile at Ascot and he may put up a better showing than even his supporters expect.
Trainer Ruth Carr was responsible for Marcret when he scored in 2014 and she has Dubai Dynamo (14/1) entered here as the now eleven year old looks for win number nineteen on his one hundred and sixty first start! Not many horses ever reach either of those two figures which include a course and distance win in June 2014 off a mark of 84, just one less than he is set to carry this afternoon. Admittedly he hasn’t won in seven races now but that hasn’t really seen his handicap rating alter significantly, and old as he is a big run is still very much a possibility.