No joy for Chester raiders on final day
Chester's hugely popular May festival concluded with a frustrating day for the raiders.
Aidan O'Brien had plundered the Classic trials on Wednesday and Thursday with Somehow and US Army Ranger.
Both victories were achieved in somewhat unconvincing fashion, but Cook Islands failed to even replicate that sort of outcome in yesterday's Dee Stakes.
Ryan Moore's mount always looked to be struggling to cope with the frantic fractions around the tight Roodee turns. When he eventually got into a rhythm late on, he didn't enjoy the clearest of passages.
In the end, Cook Islands kept on to be beaten around five lengths in fifth as his Seamie Heffernan-ridden stable-mate Housesofparliament came out third best in a photo-finish behind Richard Hannon's Viren's Army.
A 12/1 shot that had only a handicap win off a mark of 86 to show from seven previous starts, Silvestre De Sousa's mount rallied to deny John Gosden's well-backed favourite Linguistic by a short-head.
Viren's Army isn't entered in the Derby and Mike Prince, of owners Middleham Park Racing, conceded: "Whether he's up to something like the Derby is debatable."
Cook Islands doubled in price for Epsom to odds of 66/1.
In the Ormonde Stakes, Wicklow Brave lost out by a diminishing neck to the enterprisingly-ridden Dartmouth under Moore.
Again, the Willie Mullins-trained runner-up didn't enjoy a clear run through from the rear, and his task might not have been helped when William Buick's whip flew out of his hand in the straight.
However, it was an encouraging effort on his first start for over 200 days, and Wicklow Brave is likely to figure prominently in the top staying races in the months to come.
"The horse ran a cracker," Mullins said. "I'm hoping he'll improve for that and hoping he will improve throughout the season."