O'Brien out for a blast in Derby trial as Moore plumps for Hunting Horn
Centennial Celebration - MBNA Chester Vase Stakes | 1m4f63yds | 3yo | Group 3 | ITV4/RUK
The Chester Vase has become ever so predictable. Perhaps this time, though, it is a little harder to predict.
For the last five years, the winner has been trained by Aidan O'Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore.
Sometimes O'Brien has had more than one runner but Moore has always been on the right one and often followed home by stable companions, with Ballydoyle last year fielding the one-two-three and in 2016 the one-two.
However, it is far from certain the norm will be maintained in the 100th running of the Chester Vase.
In a bid to supplement the wins – in reverse chronological order – of Venice Beach, US Army Ranger, Hans Holbein, Orchestra and subsequent Derby hero Ruler Of The World, he gets on Sandown Classic Trial third Hunting Horn. However, among those he must beat is the Sandown second Ispolini.
Those last five Ballydoyle winners also all started favourite. With bookmakers on Tuesday offering three 4-1 co-favourites, it is not guaranteed Hunting Horn will head this market, while his best odds of 33-1 for Epsom are no shorter than those quoted about Family Tree and Flag Of Honour, who also seek to give O'Brien a ninth success in the last 12 runnings of the Group 3 trial.
O'Brien – whose 2,000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior dominates the Derby betting – said: "Hunting Horn showed improvement from his maiden win to finish third in the Classic Trial at Sandown, where he finished well. We think the longer trip will suit and we're looking forward to getting him out again.
"Flag Of Honour, too, is up in trip having run a close third at Longchamp on his first start of the year. We think he has progressed and that the trip will suit.
"Family Tree won his only start last year and, while we're hoping he runs well, he'll come on a lot for the experience."
Ispolini seeks to continue Appleby's hot streak
Classics have continued to elude Godolphin this year but victory in Classic trials has proved much easier to achieve.
Attempting to continue that trend, and break Godolphin's duck in the Chester Vase, is Ispolini, whose trainer-jockey combination of Charlie Appleby and William Buick remain in sizzling form.
At Sandown the son of Dubawi was a short head behind Sevenna Star but a length and a quarter in front of Hunting Horn.
Can he now confirm that superiority?
"I was very pleased with Ispolini’s seasonal debut at Sandown," said Appleby.
"He has definitely come forward again. The step up in trip to a mile and a half will suit him and he should be competitive. I think he'll be a live player."
Haggas's Rascal runs for Derby sponsor
In 1996 William Haggas got his name on Flat racing's most coveted prize when Shaamit won the Derby. Twenty-two years on he could be represented at Epsom by Young Rascal, a wide-margin winner of a 20-runner Newbury maiden on Greenham Stakes day.
Given Young Rascal runs in the colours of Investec's Bernard Kantor, a Derby assault is understandably on the wishlist.
"He needs to shape up well," said Haggas.
"He's won only a maiden but is pretty useful, although quite immature, so it will be very interesting to see how he gets on.
"It's the sort of Vase that he needs to win, but if he did he would probably have a go at Epsom."
What they say
Charlie Johnston, assistant to Mark Johnston, trainer of Dee Ex Bee
He ran a lovely race at Epsom, where he found himself in not the best of positions after being a little ring-rusty through the early stages. I could see him turning the form around on another day. He'll improve for going up to a mile and a half.
Charlie Hills, trainer of Jetstream
The drying ground will help him. The question mark is the trip as he's not short of speed, but we'll learn more.
Andrew Balding, trainer of Perfect Illusion
It's very difficult to make head or tail of his form. He has a fair bit to find but he's a horse we like and he should be a nice horse in time. We'll learn something by running him.
Tom Dascombe, trainer of Proschema
It's a quickish return after his win at Haydock and the ground will be the fastest he has run on, although I don't think that will be a problem. The outside draw shouldn't be a problem over this trip and we'll find out how good he is. We like him a lot.
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