Hans Holbein to paint a pretty picture at Chester
Aidan O'Brien continues to make great use of Chester as a trials venue and Hans Holbein can extend his and Ryan Moore's domination of the MBNA Chester Vase this afternoon.
The Ballydoyle genius, whose Oaks contender Diamondsandrubies was so impressive at the unique turning track yesterday, has won five of the last eight renewals of today's Group Three.
Soldier Of Fortune, Treasure Beach and Ruler Of The World went on to aggregate five Group Ones after landing the 12-furlong contest, with Ruler Of The World famously taking the Derby under Moore.
It might be unlikely that Hans Holbein will emulate those Epsom heroics, but he should still be good enough to carry the peerless rider to his fifth victory in this for O'Brien.
A three-parts brother to the 2010 Irish St Leger hero Sans Frontieres, the Montjeu colt took a little while to get a hang of the job. However, he looked progressive when pulling away in what was a fair 10-furlong Leopardstown maiden at the third time of asking last month.
Hans Holbein certainly showed a willing attitude, so he sets a fair standard now that he steps up to a more suitable trip.
His main threat may come from Godolphin's Future Empire. Placed three times - including twice in Group company - since winning on its Newmarket bow over seven furlongs last July, the New Approach colt is another that looks sure to be better over this sort of trip.
Moore might also take the two races either side of the day's feature event. In the Betfair Huxley Stakes, he partners Cannock Chase for Michael Stoute. This is a really tight contest, with six of the seven runners rated within a pound of each other.
Windhoek, Air Pilot, Fattsota, Grandeur and Maverick Wave all have obvious chances, but Cannock Chase is by some way the least exposed of the field. A full-brother to the dual Group winner Pisco Sour, the four-year-old finished second on his only start as a juvenile two years ago. He then won each of his three outings in 2014, finishing up with a straightforward triumph at Royal Ascot in the Tercentenary Stakes.
On Cannock Chase's reappearance at Sandown, he kept on well to be third to two higher-rated rivals, which should have left him spot on for this.
In short, he is a really likeable sort with a low head carriage that has far more scope to improve than any of today's rivals. From a plum inside draw, he ought to take plenty beating.
In the Boodles Diamond Handicap, Moore and Stoute are represented by Pleiades, which was beaten all of 15 lengths on its seasonal reappearance at Beverley, where he had won a maiden so impressively on his last run in the autumn. A full-brother to Monday's Robbie Hennessy-trained Down Royal hurdle winner Space Ship, the son of Galileo is far better than he showed first time up.
Pleiades has been dropped a couple of pounds by the handicapper, so he ought to go much better now that he has the benefit of a run to his name, bearing in mind that he also ran moderately on his first outing last year.
Another fancied to collect inside the walls of the charming medieval city is David Evans' Jamie Spencer-ridden Raj To Riches. Just denied for a second time at Nottingham, the Ifraaj colt has a fair draw in stall five in the juveniles' maiden.