Classic Dreams Spun On The Roodeye

Chester’s unique “Roodeye” course swings back into action on Wednesday, with the often-informative three-day May Festival kicking off with the G3 Boodles Chester Vase and Listed Weatherbys Digital Solutions Cheshire Oaks starting the raft of English trials for the Derby and Oaks.

With the Epsom picture clouded by the outcome of the 2000 Guineas and no obvious candidate emerging from the 1000 Guineas, we are officially into the informative period and the silly season at the same time with the next fortnight set to witness the usual violent fluctuations of fortunes and ante-post prices ahead of the two crowning middle-distance Classics.

Chester’s Vase and Cheshire Oaks tend to produce more place prospects than heroes at Epsom, but this is a year where a Ruler Of The World (Ire) could emerge even if the prospect of another Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) might be asking a bit much. The Vase sees Juddmonte’s Arrest (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) re-engage with Ballydoyle’s Adelaide River (Ire) (Australia {GB}) after they were second and third respectively and separated by six lengths in the G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud in October. Given that the race’s winner Dubai Mile (Ire) (Roaring Lion) neither excelled nor let the form down in the Guineas on Saturday, both probably need to do something impressive here to make big waves in the Derby market.

Interestingly, Arrest’s prior efforts have also come to take on greater merit. A debut third to the G1 Dewhurst S. third Nostrum (GB) (Kingman {GB}) at Sandown in July, the John and Thady Gosden trainee beat Sea Of Roses (GB) (Sea The Moon {Ger}) convincingly at Ffos Las before she went on to beat the Oaks mover Infinite Cosmos (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) and finish runner-up to Pensee Du Jour (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) in the G3 Prix Penelope.

Barry Mahon, European racing manager for Juddmonte, has misgivings about the course. “Chester is probably not his ideal track, but we were meant to go to Sandown and unfortunately it was abandoned with the rain,” he explained. “The Vase was Plan C, as originally we were going to the Dee S. but the forecast is giving plenty of rain coming in on the Wednesday afternoon and night, so we said we’d go for the fresh ground on Wednesday.”

“He was a big frame last year and he is definitely a stronger horse this year,” Mahon added. “John and Thady said the other morning that the experience of Chester would do him good. If we ended up going to Epsom, he will have that under his belt. We have seen it in the last few years with Aidan and Barry Hills before that, they all take them to Chester for the reason that they get that experience, with the crowd on top of them.”

Oaks On Her Dancecard…

  Aidan O’Brien has won four of the last seven Cheshire Oaks and seven in total, so the yard’s likely hot favourite Savethelastdance (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) is the obvious place to start. She may have been 20-1 as she captured the same 10-furlong Leopardstown maiden in which last year’s winner Thoughts Of June (Ire)–also by Galileo (Ire)–had been second, but she has made a leap forward from two to three and is as live an Oaks candidate as there is around at the moment. Dash Grange Stud’s Listed Koln-Winterkonigin Trial winner Sirona (Ger) (Soldier Hollow {GB}) is also sure to have more to offer at three, even if she disappointed when trailing as the re-opposing Luckin Brew (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) was second in the Listed Silver Tankard S. at Pontefract in October.

Sirona’s owner Jayne McGivern said of the Charlie Johnston trainee, “She has wintered really well. She is working well at home and is bred for distance and we were surprised at how well she had done as a 2-year-old over a mile. We kind of were not expecting that. This will tell us a lot about her. She had a fantastic page when I bought her, she’s not overly big, but her confirmation’s great and she surprised us how good she was and she got black-type. I think the Silver Tankard was a race too far, as she had a few races in quick succession.”

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