O’Brien to land sixth Chester Vase in nine years

AIDAN O’Brien’s record at Chester is frighteningly good and he proved again yesterday that he is one of the master trainers at this unique track.

The Irish handler has saddled five winners of today’s MBNA Chester Vase (3.10pm), including subsequent Irish Derby winner Soldier Of Fortune and 2013 Investec Derby hero Ruler Of The World – so we know he isn’t afraid to throw his big guns at this contest.

Whether HANS HOLBEIN, currently as big as 66/1 for Epsom’s showpiece next month, will prove to be as good as those Group One victors remains to be seen, but it’s interesting the colt is the stable representative here.

Giovanni Canaletto was supposed to represent Ballydoyle but he scoped badly and is now a doubt for Epsom next month.

Today’s 1m4f contest is small but competitive, yet to me it looks like a match between Hans Holbein and Godolphin’s Future Empire. The latter has the best form, having been placed in a brace of useful Group Three events last season.

The son of New Approach made a pleasing reappearance in the Derby Trial at Epsom behind the promising Christophermarlowe. In fact, he was staying on all the way to the line that day having become unbalanced coming down the hill and that effort can probably be upgraded.

However, I’m not convinced a tight track like Chester will particularly suit, and Future Empire doesn’t always look totally straightforward.

Hans Holbein was a relatively cheap purchase for the Coolmore operation, but is bred to relish this sort of trip being by Montjeu and related to Irish St Leger winner Sans Frontieres.

He took three goes to get off the mark but it was a promising win last time that confirmed the opinion he’d make a better three-year-old than a two-year-old. The ground should be fine and, at the 5/2 available, he looks worth supporting.

Tannaaf made a decent reappearance in a valuable race at Newmarket last month. However, all his form is on a firm surface. Medrano is interesting on his runs in France this season, yet he’s still been beaten over six lengths both times and was found out when raised in class last year.

I’m also keen on MODERNISM in the closing handicap (5.25pm). This one is having his first start for Richard Fahey and has reportedly been working very well at home.

He sneaks in off bottom-weight and it’s surely significant that Ryan Moore has been booked to ride. A draw in nine is perhaps not ideal, but over 10 furlongs Moore should be able to coax his way into the race.

■ Pointers…
HANS HOLBEIN 3.10pm Chester
MODERNISM 5.25pm Chester