Stargazer heads Chester Cup market after 'perfect preparation'
Locally-owned Stargazer heads the betting for next Friday's 188Bet Chester Cup, for which there were 45 acceptors at Saturday's six-day stage. He is 8-1 with the sponsor.
The Phil Kirby-trained five-year-old has already proved a bargain since being bought cheaply out of Sir Michael Stoute's stable, despite being disqualified following a good win at Newcastle, a decision that connections failed to get overturned on appeal.
This has been his target throughout and he is clear favourite in most lists, ahead of last year's fourth Who Dares Wins, for whom Alan King has booked Ryan Moore, and Magic Circle, who has joined Ian Williams and owner Marwan Koukash for 70,000gns since doing well in staying handicaps for Ralph Beckett.
Kirby is optimistic and said: "He's had the perfect preparation. Everything has gone great, the ground should be perfect and he is hopefully going to Chester spot on for the big race."
The Paul Nicholls-trained Amour De Nuit, a faller in a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham last week and a general 16-1 chance, and Amanda Perrett's Arch Villain, not seen yet this year and 20-1, were the most notable absentees.
Harry Fry's American Gigolo is the most prominent acceptor currently not guaranteed a run in a race which has a safety maximum of 17. He is currently number 23 in the pecking order.
Last year's Derby second Cliffs Of Moher, who has been such a disappointment at the top level since Epsom, could return to Chester for the same afternoon's Group 2 Huxley Stakes. He won the Listed Dee Stakes there prior to the Derby.
Martyn Meade's Eminent, who was fourth in the Derby and went on to win a Group 2, would be an obvious danger on form.
Forest Ranger, who beat last year's Huxley winner Deauville in the Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket last month, brings strong recent form to the race.