Simon Holt thinks Aidan O'Brien's domination of the Chester Vase will end on Wednesday, with a Mark Johnston-trained colt fancy to strike.
Recommended bets: Chester, Wednesday
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record
Aidan O'Brien has won Wednesday's Centennial Celebration MBNA Chester Vase on no less than eight occasions, including for the past five years, so his trio of runners in this year's renewal deserve maximum respect.
It looks like Hunting Horn, the mount of Ryan Moore, is the number one contender after his eye-catching run behind Sevenna Star and the re-opposing Ispolini in Sandown's Classic Trail (1m2f) last month when he appeared to be out of his ground at one point only to rally strongly up the hill.
The son of Camelot looks sure to be suited by this longer trip and has just over a length to make up on the runner-up on that effort, but it could be close between them again and the quality of the form is, I feel, a little suspect as Ispolini's previous maiden win at Kempton looks fairly ordinary and fourth-placed Chilean was backing up quickly after a win in France.
Stable-companions Flag Of Honour and Family Tree must also enter calculations, with the first perhaps being open to slightly less improvement than the latter, but the most solid horse in the field could be DEE EX BEE who won twice last year before finishing second to O'Brien's Kew Gardens in the Zetland Stakes, a race for two-year-old stayers at Newmarket in October.
The latter could finish only third behind the selection's smart stable-companion Mildenberger in the Feilden Stakes at Newmarket on his reappearance but that might have been a strong race with the field finishing well strung out while Dee Ex Bee's third to Crossed Baton and My Lord And Master in Epsom's mile-and-a-quarter Blue Riband Trial last month (with the O'Brien-trained James Cook back in fourth) may also have been a sound effort in defeat.
While the winner that day has done little wrong and was given a classic stop-start ride from the front by Frankie Dettori, the second had previously slammed stable-mate Young Rascal at Nottingham who runs here having since landed a maiden at Newbury.
Staying on well at the finish after being a little one-paced approaching two furlongs out, Dee Ex Bee, like Hunting Horn, looked ready for a greater test of stamina.
Clearly, Young Rascal has the potential to improve but the Mark Johnston-trained selection could be the one to beat with plenty of experience under his belt and, likely to be a bit sharper this time than at Epsom, he can end Ballydoyle's winning run under Chester specialist Frannie Norton.
In the Boodles Diamond Handicap, the early pace promises to be frenetic as Global Academy is expected to blast-off from stall two with one or two other speedsters in hot pursuit.
However, even though the race is over one of the sharpest five furlongs in the country, I suspect that it could be set up for a finisher with SHOWMETHEDOUGH from stall four most likely to pick up the pieces.
Richard Fahey's gelding progressed nicely in three starts last season, winning over six furlongs at Ripon in September, and made an encouraging return at Thirsk last month when keeping on into fourth behind Savalas (winner since) over five at Thirsk. Fifth-placed Primo's Comet appeared to run well at the weights next time at Newcastle.
It could be that this race will have been a target for Showmethedough given that his owner Dr Marwan Koukash loves to have winners at Chester.