Royal Rascal perfectly placed to take swift route to victory
ANY school child will tell you that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but at the round shaped left-handed course at Chester the quickest way to get from the start to the finish is on the inside rail.
Being Britain's tightest track, the advantage of being drawn in a low-numbered stall is well known and I've often discussed strategies on these pages that take advantage, especially in the handicap sprints.
With that in mind, I reckon Tim Easterby's Royal Rascal could be the one to side with at 7/2 from stall one in the six-furlong Appletiser Fillies' Handicap (2.30).
Alongside the draw advantage, the four-year-old filly has claims based on some very encouraging displays in handicaps, despite the fact that she hasn't won a race since the age of two.
In fairness, she's had a light campaign since winning a Listed sprint at York and was seen only twice in 2013 and as many times this year.
At Pontefract last month, her sixth place on paper belies her actual performance on the day as she was dropped out wide from a difficult draw and never really got a chance to get into contention.
That she finished mid-division under the circumstances suggests she may do much better when conditions are in her favour.
Last time out at York, she came fifth of 20 runners in an extremely competitive handicap off a mark of 95 and I was surprised to see the handicapper drop her by 1lb in the ratings.
In a small enough field of seven today, with a good draw and a decent mark, she'll have no excuses if she doesn't bring home some prize money.
David O'Meara's Bondesire also catches the eye, but is a little short in the betting at 11/4.
She's rarely out of the frame, but whether or not she'll be able to get into her favoured front-running position early at a tight course like Chester from stall four remains to be seen.
At Haydock, Garswood (5/2) can atone for his disappointing second-last in the Group Two bet365 Mile last month by stepping down in class for the Group Three John Of Gaunt Stakes (2.40).
It's hard to know what to make of that Sandown race. He was well backed before the off and ended up the 5/2 favourite, but perhaps he was a little rusty after a seven-month absence. Furthermore, the trip was a bit of a stretch and he's usually seen to best effect over today's distance of seven furlongs.
Despite his finishing position at Sandown, he clearly has ability and previously put in a career best when third in the Group One Prix de la Foret at Longchamp. He also managed to win the Group Two Lennox Stakes at Goodwood last year at the expense of Caspar Netscher.
Eton Forever and Tawhid will give the selection a run for his money, but Richard Fahey has found a very good opportunity here and is unlikely to go home empty-handed.
Michael Stoute's Rye House is the early favourite for the John Sunley Memorial Levy Board Handicap at Newmarket (3.35), but this looks competitive and the gelding's odds of 9/2 appear a little short.
Instead, Plutocracy gets the each-way vote at 8/1 for the Lambourn-based David Lanigan following some consistent successes in handicaps last season, despite his official rating rising from 70 to 92.
The four-year-old will have matured and strengthened up a little since we saw him last and I reckon the colt may still be a couple of pounds ahead of his mark.
2.0 Chester: Baitha Alga
2.05 Haydock: Astonishing
2.30 Chester: Royal Rascal
2.40 Haydock: Garswood
3.35 Newmarket: Plutocracy (e/w)
3.40 Chester: My Inspiration