MICHAEL Bell would be the first to admit that the last few seasons haven’t been the best for his Newmarket yard, but things could be about to improve after this afternoon’s Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks (2.40pm).
The trainer won the big one at Epsom with Sariska back in 2009 and BANZARI looks to have an excellent chance of landing today’s Listed prize.
She won on her final start as a two-year-old when encountering soft ground for the first time at Nottingham. Admittedly she was sent off just 1/3 that day, but it was the manner in which the daughter of Motivator floated over the ground that impressed.
Aidan O’Brien has won this race three times in the past seven years and his Diamondsandrubies is sure to go off favourite. She doesn’t look a world-beater, though, and I’m happy to leave her alone at 9/4.
The rest are much of a muchness and we know that our filly will handle the ground and relish the trip, so the generally available 8/1 is a perfectly acceptable each-way price.
David Evans took the opening Lily Agnes Stakes (2.10pm) back in 2009 with Star Rover and I’m taking the Welsh-based trainer to repeat the feat with SILVER WINGS.
The draw is imperative in this five-furlong dash and Silver Wings has been allotted the dream slot in stall one.
This son of Zebedee was backed as though defeat was out of the question on his debut at Windsor last week. He duly obliged and his trainer immediately nominated this race.
As is the case with the other eight runners, the ground will be a question mark if it deteriorates badly, but his pedigree suggests he should get away with it.
Mark Johnston won this with Mukhmal 12 months ago and his Rah Rah looks the biggest danger from stall two with Chester maestro Franny Norton in the plate.
My final selection on the opening day of the meeting is B FIFTY TWO in the Boodles Diamond Handicap (3.45pm).
The Hills family always target this meeting and this gelded son of Dark Angel is two from two at Chester. He won easily last August off a mark of 96 and is only 4lb higher today, so he should go close.
Frankie Dettori has been booked for the ride and stall three is perfect. The six-year-old looks set for a very big run.
SILVER WINGS 2.10pm Chester
BANZARI e/w 2.40pm Chester
B FIFTY TWO 3.45pm Chester