Scotland set for Vase glory
Scotland can state a case for the Investec Derby by winning the MBNA Chester Vase according to Chris Wilson, who has a tip for every race.
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CARLISLE: 5.40 May's Boy, 6.10 Big Water, 6.40 Stanley Bridge, 7.10 Blenheim Brook, 7.40 Funky Monkey, 8.10 Allow Me, 8.40 Noir Girl.
CHESTER: 1.45 Marcret, 2.15 Ektihaam, 2.45 SCOTLAND (NAP), 3.15 Hot Coffee, 3.50 Hell Of A Lord, 4.25 Thataboy, 5.00 Cosmic Halo.
CLONMEL: 5.15 Sar Oiche, 5.50 Prussian Eagle, 6.20 Cairdin, 6.50 Caliso Bay, 7.20 Shutter Island, 7.50 Silver Chief, 8.20 Keith's Delight.
NEWTON ABBOT: 2.05 Cool George, 2.35 Umustbejoking, 3.05 Rock On Rocky, 3.35 Old Tricks, 4.10 Enchanting Smile, 4.45 Strong Wind, 5.20 Coombe Hill.
SOUTHWELL: 1.55 Solarmaite, 2.25 Saakhen, 2.55 Evens And Odds, 3.25 Interconnection, 4.00 Ray Of Joy, 4.35 Marina Ballerina, 5.10 Frosty The Snowman.
WINCANTON: 6.00 Bostin, 6.30 Silsol, 7.00 Howard's Legacy, 7.30 Quadriller, 8.00 Wolfe Mountain, 8.30 Agapanthus.
DOUBLE: Scotland and Ektihaam.
Scotland can state a belated case for the Investec Derby at Epsom by winning the MBNA Chester Vase.
Trainer Andrew Balding adores this son of Monsun, who looks well capable of making a seamless transition up to a mile and a half for this Group Three.
The colt is sure to have his detractors, such was his rather one-paced effort upon his return to action at Newbury last month.
Scotland finished over six lengths adrift of Western Hymn in a hot conditions stakes over a mile and a quarter, but connections had warned he was badly in need of a run to blow away the cobwebs.
In any event, the form from that race looks really strong as the winner has since won a Group Three at Sandown and is a main British hope for the Derby, while runner-up Snow Sky is most certainly no slouch.
Scotland is clearly a better horse than that effort suggests, though, as was evidenced by his most comprehensive success on his last start as a juvenile at Epsom.
Balding had considered then sending him for the Racing Post Trophy, but the Kingsclere handler always held a view that he would be a far better horse this term.
Closely related to Shirocco, stamina should not be an issue, while his trainer has began the season in electric form.
Conditions, too, look just about ideal for a horse who might well go off at a pretty tasty price.
Ektihaam is a cautious selection for top honours in the Betfair Price Rush Huxley Stakes.
Much will depend upon whether Telescope is on happy terms with himself, and if he has the appetite to reverse Sandown form with Noble Mission, who must carry a 3lb penalty on the Roodee.
Ektihaam will not find it easy against those two race-fit rivals, but Roger Varian's five-year-old has enough class to cause a mini-upset.
Things did not go at all to plan last summer as he slipped up when seemingly poised for a big run in the Hardwicke, after which he trailed home last in the King George.
Be that as it may, some of his prior efforts, both last season and as a three-year-old, were not far off being out of the top drawer.
Varian wisely played the long game with the son of Invincible Spirit since he was tailed off at Ascot last July, but he does go well fresh and will be unruffled by the prospect of stepping back down in trip.
Marcret really ought to go close in the IG Handicap.
The seven-year-old gelding has been slowly brought to the boil by his excellent trainer David O'Meara, for whom he finished an encouraging third in a good race at Ripon last month.
Perhaps of greater significance is his record at Chester, where he has won twice - including the 2012 Huxley Stakes - from just three starts.
Evens And Odds can gain a long overdue success in the Quicksilverslots Play £500 Jackpot Rainbow Riches Handicap at Southwell.
Now in training with Peter Grayson, the 10-year-old is most certainly not the force he once was, having a few years ag matched a career-high mark of 104.
He has not found the winner's enclosure since April 2011, but a seismic dip in ratings, allied to a pretty promising display last time out, could finally end that unwanted statistic.
Evens And Odds was beaten just over three lengths in a five-furlong handicap at Wolverhampton, but that does not tell the full story as he missed the break before staying on stoutly to take third place.
The chestnut son of Johannesburg has done most of his winning over six furlongs, so Grayson's decision on step up in trip at the Nottinghamshire circuit looks wise.
That he has been relieved of another 2lb further heightens the veteran's claims in what is a poor race.
Umustbejoking recent staying-on second at Southwell makes him a leading light for the Newquay Zoo Handicap Chase at Newton Abbot, while Stanley Bridge should not be too far away in the ApolloBet Horse Racing Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap Hurdle at Carlisle.
Similar thoughts apply to last month's Chepstow runner-up Howard's Legacy, who remains feasibly treated for the Happy Retirement Joe Tizzard Handicap Chase at Wincanton.