With Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Irish Grand National hoodoos exorcised, trainer Willie Mullins has less mountains in life to climb than most participants in this majestic sport and he looks set to conquer another peak in the Chester Cup at 3.35 on Friday.
His Cesarewitch winner, Low Sun, will be the pick of many punters and pundits alike and on form this lightly raced six-year-old has to be a player with Ryan Moore on board.
However, drawn in the car park in stall 17 has to be a worry. It doesn’t mean he can’t win, but the jockey that doesn’t smile will have to put up a world-class ride to get him home from that slot.
Instead, I really like the claims of stable mate WHISKEY SOUR at odds of 12/1.
A cracking dual-purpose horse, he has run well in several top-class staying handicaps on the level including a running on sixth in the Ebor and fifth in the Ascot Stakes last year.
A Grade One winner over timber, the son of former Jersey Stakes winner Jeremy looked as good as ever when a strong-finishing fourth in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham followed by an excellent second to Lac Kivu at Cork.
His handicap mark of 102 isn’t exactly a giveaway, but he has an excellent sit in stall seven, will relish the dig in the ground and will be as fit as a butcher’s dog going to post.
The 2017 hero, Montaly, is only 4lbs above that mark again and is another that must have some give in the Cheshire turf, while Speedo Boy (unexposed at the trip) and the lightly raced six-year-old Shabeeb are also hugely respected.
PTARMIGAN RIDGE ran really well on his comeback run at Haydock Park and should be able to step up on that when running from box number two in the opening 7.5 furlong handicap at 13.50. Any further rain would be greatly appreciated.
However, my main bet on the card will be on MASTER ARCHER, two from two at the track, when he bids to defy top weight in the Chester Cup Consolation event at 17.15. The 7lbs claim of the promising Cieren Fallon drops him to 3lbs below his last winning mark and good to soft ground is perfect for him.
Following two wind operations don’t be shocked to see some money for the Jonjo O’Neill trained BAHAMA MOON in the 12 furlong handicap at 16.40, while ADDEYBB can take the scalp of all-weather king Matterhorn in the Huxley Stakes due off at 14.25.
*Prices correct a time of publishing