The Chester Cup is the highlight of the opening day of the three-day May meeting at the Roodeye where, once again, the draw is likely to play a significant part around the tight oval circuit which makes for a great spectacle but any number of hard luck stories.
A low draw in the Cup is a massive advantage and the hope is that Mubaraza (2.45) gets a handy position from stall five in the race to the first bend.
Having backed the selection for both the Ascot Stakes (fourth) and the Northumberland Plate (runner up) last season one could argue he is fast becoming a nearly horse with only two wins from 14 careers starts to his name.
But he ran an excellent race at Ripon on his comeback and is 4lb better off than he will be in future handicaps.
Leading owner Dr Marwan Koukash has no less than five of the 17 to post running in his silks and on jockey bookings Angel Gabrial is first choice but, at 20/1, I think Montaser is overpriced from stall one and I would hope to see Joe Fanning race more prominently than is often the case on the five-year-old who won first time out last season.
Aidan O’Brien has won the Cheshire Oaks three times in the last six years and he saddles 7/4 favourite Terrific.
The maiden Brown Diamond (10/1) is the each way alternative for Charlie Hills and Jamie Spencer.
There are mixed messages from the filly’s pedigree and she holds Group 1 entries later in the season over a mile as well as the Oaks trip of a mile-and-a-half.
The selection has given every indication that she would improve for the step up in trip in two decent mile maidens finishing 3 lengths behind the short price Oaks favourite Taghrooda on debut when unfancied (33/1) in the betting.
In the following 5f handicap Go Nani Go (3.15) would be an apt winner with reports that the United winger is on his way out of Old Trafford and the 8-year-old has an excellent draw in stall three for Franny Norton who rides Chester so well.
The gelding can be slow away but he would have every chance if breaking well from stall three despite having to overcome a career high mark. Note significant rain would be a negative for a horse who likes to hear his hooves rattle.