O'Brien's progressive filly has alluring appeal in Oaks trial
Chester's May meeting means the Guineas are done and dusted and the focus quickly switches to Epsom, and Aidan O'Brien's hand looks set to be strengthened further today with Alluringly taken to provide him with a sixth victory in the Cheshire Oaks.
Having won both Guineas at Newmarket last weekend, O'Brien's three-year-olds are clearly in great heart. It is nine years since the Ballydoyle maestro first claimed this Listed contest with Sail and he has since added to his tally with Perfect Truth (2009), Wonder Of Wonders (2011), Diamondsandrubies (2015) and Somehow (2016).
Alluringly was well-beaten on each of her two starts as a juvenile, but looked a much improved filly when making an impressive start to her three-year-old career at Tipperary three weeks ago.
The formidable combination of trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori is represented by the promising Enable which looks the main threat to the O'Brien raider.
The daughter of Nathaniel was third behind stable companion and fellow Khalid Abdullah-owned filly Shutter Speed in a conditions race at Newbury almost three weeks ago.
Alan King is primarily a jump trainer but does well with his Flat runners and Who Dares Wins has a profile that should be suited to the 188 Bet Chester Cup (3.35).
Horses with hurdles form have often won or figured in the finish of this contest and Who Dares Wins officially improved 7lb in that sphere during the winter yet races off a 2lb lower mark than when last seen on the Flat, suggesting his rating is favourable.
Further hope comes from his draw. Those starting from single-figure stalls have traditionally fared best, even though the race is run over more than two-and-a-quarter miles.
The draw has proved even more significant in the Lily Agnes Stakes (1.50), with eight of the past 10 winners starting from stall five or lower. It also demands a sharp and relatively streetwise juvenile and Yogi's Girl, which won a strongly-run Windsor novice on her second start, looks a likely winner.
O'Brien will field four of the eight runners in a bid to extend his excellent recent record in tomorrow's MBNA Chester Vase.
He has saddled a record seven previous winners, including in the last four renewals, of this recognised Derby trial.
The last horse to win this Group Three prize before going on to claim Epsom glory the following month was Ruler Of The World in 2013. This year O'Brien is represented by Finn McCool, The Anvil, Venice Beach and Wings Of Eagles. His son, Joseph, runs Dundalk winner Druids Cross.
Perhaps the biggest threat to the O'Brien father and son's contingent is the Gosden-trained Cunco. The son of Frankel made a successful start to his three-year-old campaign in the Sandown Classic Trial a fortnight ago.
Count Octave is stepped up in class by Andrew Balding after impressing at Wolverhampton and Saeed bin Suroor's runaway Newmarket scorer Tamleek completes the line-up.
Elsewhere, Cole Harden was beaten for a second time when switched to fences as Sir Ivan took his scalp in yesterday's beginners' chase at Ffos Las.
The 2015 Stayers' Hurdle winner was beaten on his only previous start over fences at Wetherby in December before reverting to the smaller obstacles for the rest of the season.
Sent off the 4/7 favourite, Cole Harden attempted to make all of the running over the three miles but Sir Ivan never let him out of his sight.
Harry Fry's charge, which had only completed in two of his five previous attempts over fences, made a couple of mistakes but stuck to his guns.
Pushed into the lead by Noel Fehily after jumping the third-last, Sir Ivan got home a length and a quarter ahead of Cole Harden, with the other two runners well beaten. (© Daily Telegraph, London)