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1.45 - tote+ Placepots Pay More Earl Grosvenor Handicap (7½f)
Brentford Hope dropped back to a mile at Haydock on his final start last season and won hard held. He's 7lb higher now and has plenty scope for better on only his racecourse start.
He's drawn wide and has that break to overcome and it would be a shock if Richard Hughes' charge is able to coast home in that same vain today. He is, of course, one to be reckoned with, but is overlooked at the current odds of 4/1.
GROVE FERRY is the choice instead. Andrew Balding's team are in scintillating form and after his winning return on the all-weather he ran a solid race since in the Lincoln at Doncaster under a penalty. He's got definite possibilities from this mark and is drawn well.
Revich commands the utmost respect at this track, where he's a winner of 3-5 starts previously. He won both starts here in 2020 and after solid efforts at Doncaster and Newbury this spring, he should be ready to put his best foot forward from stall one.
Ejtilaab was only narrowly denied in one previous visit here and, while drawn higher than ideal, that will be factored into his price and he represents another in-form yard.
2.15 - Melodi Media Huxley Stakes (Group 2, 1m2f)
Sangarius had a neck to spare over Bangkok when they clashed at Lingfield in December, with Palavecino further behind in fourth.
That was only a second outing for Sir Michael Stoute's son of Kingman since he won the Hampton Court at Royal Ascot in 2019. He's twice undergone wind operations either side of that Polytrack win and remains a potent threat here.
Bangkok of course went on to enjoy a profitable spring, landing a Listed win back at Lingfield in February before a lacklustre visit to Saudi Arabia soon after. He most recently won the Easter Classic back at Lingfield last month, this time with just a neck to spare over Palavecino in second.
Both can be competitive, while Sangarius is rates as an intriguing runner in his own right back on turf, but the most likely winner is ARMORY for Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore.
He was a Group 3 winner over this trip at the Curragh last season, before an excellent third in the Irish Champion Stakes behind stablemate Magical. He ended the year finishing second to Sir Dragonet in the Cox Plate in Australia. This track ought to suit the four-year-old son of Galileo and he's got strong claims.
Completing the line-up is the filly Bharani Star, yet to race over this intermediate trip, but with plenty to find on the balance of last year's effort in pattern-race company.
2.45 - tote+ Chester Cup Handicap (2m2½f)
This year's Chester Cup brings a field of 17 together on the Roodee and simply does appear to be anybody's for the taking. As always, a portion of luck will be enjoyed by the eventual winner.
Who Dares Wins is back for a fourth run in this contest. He was placed in the 2018 and 2019 renewals without ever looking like winning and his most recent all-weather run at Newcastle wasn't convincing.
Dermot Weld saddles the interesting Falcon Eight on his seasonal return and he's secured Frankie Dettori for the ride - they are contenders, but will concede weight to the field. The likes of Hochfeld, Future Investment and Coeur De Lion can all be considered too, the last-named having run well in both previous visits to Chester.
Glencadam Glory ran a big race from the front in the Ebor at York last summer and is rated 4lb lower now. He could be one to go well if getting on the front end, but the suggestion is to side with CARDANO, one of three Ian Williams runners and the mount of Ryan Moore.
He's been progressing of late and returned to turf last month with a good second behind the re-opposing Themaxwecan over 1m6f at Musselburgh. He's rated 4lb higher now, but as a five-year-old is entitled to get better still and his trainer knows what is required to win this contest. He looks worth chancing over this marathon trip.
3.15 - Boodles Conditions Stakes (5f)
It's hard to knock the record of El Astronaute around this circuit - figures read 212123 - and he should be going close again. He's also got a very positive record first time up, including landing a Listed Doncaster contest last summer. That said, John Quinn's gelding is now eight-years-old and might be vulnerable to some of these younger rivals, especially as he trades at around even-money.
His two main rivals would appear to be Ainsdale and KING'S LYNN, while Brian The Snail is the other realistic contender for place money.
Ainsdale sports first-time cheekpieces here after a disappointing effort in his return at Doncaster in March in a Listed contest (was 25/1 that day). He must bounce back but ran well in his only previous Chester start back in 2019 and he's still got plenty time on his side as a four-year-old.
The same rings true for Andrew Balding's runner King's Lynn in the Royal silks. He ran a good third at Newbury (5f, good) in last month's comeback and that form has been advertised by the front pair in the Group 3 Palace House at Newmarket last weekend.
King's Lynn should have more to come and his trainer's horses are in red-hot form right now, while he gets the company of Ryan Moore for the first time. They'll do well not to allow El Astronaute poach an easy lead in front and, if keeping close tabs, can grab this prize.
3.45 - Retraining Of Racehorses Handicap (1m2f)
LAWN RANGER has an impressive turf strike-rate of four wins in 14 starts (with three more placed efforts) and he was a C&D winner on first visit to Chester last August. He confirmed a liking for the Roodee the following month when just edged into second by Restorer - a rival he meets on better terms here.
He'll almost certainly be sharper for his March return in a competitive Kempton all-weather handicap and the booking of PJ McDonald is viewed as a positive given he's got a solid record on this track.
If Lawn Ranger can get away alertly from stall six, he's surely set for another positive spin around Chester and he's more than twice the price of Restorer.
Ian Williams' charge ended last season with that win here and he's got a fine record on the Roodee of his own, while he's also proven to go well fresh. Racing in the silks of Dr Marwan Koukash, this will have been an early-season target for him.
Fox Tal has top-weight on his first foray into a handicap. That fact, allied to this being his first Chester run and a wider draw than ideal, is enough to go against Andrew Balding's runner on balance.
Lunar Jet was never a threat in the race Lawn Ranger won here last August, but he did string together three turf wins on soft/heavy ground in October/November. He had a recent all-weather pipe opener to sharpen him up, but needs a career-best to defy this mark.
Data Protection has an 8-31 strike-rate on grass and goes well fresh, while he made the frame on his first visit here last August. He's only 2lb above his last win-mark and is certainly worth considering for each-way terms with Nicola Currie already amongst the winners at the meeting.
4.20 - tote+ Chester Plate Handicap (2m2½f)
Another tough puzzle on what is an afternoon full of them at Chester. The likes of Postileo and Grandmaster Flash are potentially well-handicapped and have to enter calculations as such. Joseph O'Brien's charge has won his last two on the Polytrack in Ireland and should give a good account, if taking to this quirky layout.
Cleonte and Hydroplane are other possible players - the latter being one of a whopping six that represent Ian Williams in this race.
The lightly-raced FRANKENSTELLA is the suggestion for John Quinn. The filly progressed on the turf last summer, winning three of five starts, all of them at two-miles and beyond.
She's equally at home on any ground and is well worth a crack at this new trip. She had a spin around Newcastle on the all-weather last month and should be sharper for that and looks capable of further progress from this mark of 83 in the months ahead.
4.50 - Racing Welfare Supporting Racing's Workforce Apprentice Handicap (1m4f)
Elham Valley has made a more than decent fist of hurdling since joining Fergal O'Brien, winning on debut at Sandown in December and holding his own in some excellent company in four runs since - most recently when third in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham in March and filling the same berth back there last month. With Saffie Osborne taking 5lb off on his return to the Flat, he has to rate a key player.
Unusually given connections, G For Gabrial has never really shown his best on the Roodee and he had every chance when slightly disappointing at Hamilton five days ago.
Heart Of Soul runs in the same silks for Ian Williams and does need shortlisting but POTENZA is worth a chance on his first Chester start. He was a winner at Haydock last summer over shorter and ran well enough in three starts afterwards.
He began 2021 with two solid runs in Huntingdon maiden hurdles and arrives here after finishing third over 1m4f on the all-weather at Lingfield last month when he was perhaps guilty of committing for home too soon.
He can get a handy position from stall five and certainly isn't handicapped out of this from a mark of 77. If he can get himself into position he might well flourish on this track.
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