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Zeyaadah is a fascinating contender in this Listed heat, unbeaten in three starts as a two-year-old and likely to have even more to offer over middle-distances this season. However, she must concede 3lbs here to DUBAI FOUNTAIN, which looks a tough task when you consider what that rival achieved herself at two.
Dubai Fountain made seven starts for the Mark Johnston yard last season, winning the first two before showing even better form in defeat in pattern company. She signed off with a career best when fourth in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket, finishing one place behind Mother Earth, who gave that form a boost when winning Sunday’s 1000 Guineas.
With a Timeform rating of 110, Dubai Fountain comfortably sets the standard here on weight-adjusted ratings, so this looks a good opportunity for her to resume winning ways with the step up in trip sure to play to her strengths.
Aidan O’Brien saddles three runners as he seeks a record 10th win in this race. Sandhurst will be suited by the step up in trip after making little impact in the Craven Stakes, but there is little doubt that SIR LAMORAK is the most the most interesting contender from Ballydoyle.
Admittedly, Sir Lamorak boasts a rather different profile to many horses with Derby aspirations from his yard given that his latest success came in handicap company. That was an impressive performance at Leopardstown though, as he stayed on strongly from an unpromising position to make a mockery of his opening mark – winning by nearly 4 lengths with plenty in hand.
Sir Lamorak looked the archetypal Group horse in a handicap, so it’s no surprise to see him quickly stepped up in grade. He remains open to more improvement and looks sure to mount a bold bid for his powerful connections.
Charlie Appleby looks to hold the key to this race with ADAYAR and Yibir, who were last seen finishing second and third respectively in the Classic Trial at Sandown. It remains to be seen which of them will line up here, but Adayar appeals as the better long-term prospect after his eye-catching performance at Sandown. He did well to be beaten just half a length given how much ground he had to make up in the straight.
He recorded a notably fast closing sectional and was certainly the horse to take out of the race. A superbly-bred colt, Adayar has the looks to go with his pedigree and is sure to progress further. He should prove well up to winning races in pattern company and could even put himself in the picture for the Derby with an impressive performance in this Listed heat.
Aidan O’Brien holds another formidable hand in this Group 3 with Japan and ARMORY, the top two on Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings. Japan is also entered in Thursday’s Ormonde Stakes, so it could pay to focus on Armory – who showed very smart form as a three-year-old and appeals as the type to progress further this season.
He was last seen filling the runner-up spot in Australia’s premier weight-for-age race, the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley, where he ran creditably to be beaten just a length-and-a-quarter behind his former stablemate Sir Dragonet. Prior to that Armory had produced an even better effort to be third in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, finding only Magical and Ghaiyyath too strong on the day.
That form reads very well in the context of this race, so he really should take plenty of beating if ready to go after six months on the sidelines.
John Gosden has never won the Chester Cup, but looks set to field a leading contender in his first season training in partnership with his son Thady. The horse in question is ante-post favourite ALMIGHWAR, who proved better than ever when stepped up markedly in trip at Newbury last time – finding only a very well-handicapped rival too good for the second start in succession.
He passed the post just a neck behind the winner Elysian Flame, with the first two pulling 6 lengths clear of the rest. Elysian Flame will be a danger again here if making the cut, but he must carry a 3lbs penalty anyway and Almighwar is weighted to reverse the placings. He certainly looks on a good mark and will have no problem staying this longer trip if his strength at the finish at Newbury is anything to go by.
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