A serious Epsom Derby rival to Camelot could emerge when two trials for the world’s most famous Flat race take place at the Chester May Meeting this week.
But the three-day festival at the tight Roodeye circuit gets under way with the StanJames.com Chester Cup being the highlight on the opening day of action.
Overturn will carry top weight as he bids to win the race for the second consecutive year and is disputing favouritism with last year’s Cesarewitch hero Never Can Tell.
A strong field of 12 has been declared for Wednesday’s main supporting race, the Weatherbys Bank Cheshire Oaks, won last year by Wonder of Wonders who went on to be second in the Epsom fillies’ Classic.
More than half of the field hold entries in the Oaks and Aidan O’Brien, fresh from his Guineas double at Newmarket, will hope to enjoy further success with Betterbetterbetter, currently a 33/1 chance with Stan James
for the Epsom contest.
On Thursday the highlight is the MBNA Chester Vase in which Ektihaam, who would need to be supplemented for the Derby, looks the most likely candidate to enhance his Epsom claims.
However, the more informative Derby trial could be the Stobart Barristers Dee Stakes as this race is likely to see the return to action of Bonfire.
A 14/1 chance for the Derby, Andrew Balding’s colt is highly regarded and will have to be taken seriously for the Blue Riband if he scores on his seasonal debut.
Friday’s card is arguably the classiest of the meeting as Brown Panther and Sea Moon, second and third respectively in last year’s St Leger, are due to go head to head in the Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes.
Full Chester May Meeting race schedule
Wednesday, May 9
1:35 Manor House Stables Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes (2yo, 5f 16y)
2:05 Weatherbys Bank Cheshire Oaks (For The Robert Sangster Memorial Cup) (Fillies' Listed) (3yo, 1m 3f 79y)
2:35 StanJames.com Chester Cup (Heritage Handicap) (4yo+, 2m 2f 147)
3:05 Stellar Group Handicap (4yo+, 5f 16y)
3:40 GL Events Owen Brown Maiden Stakes (3yo, 1m 2f 75y)
4:15 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Conditions Stakes (3yo+, 5f 16y)
4:45 Merseyrail Day Saver Ticket Handicap (3yo, 1m 4f 66y)
Thursday, May 10
1:35 M&S Money Handicap (4yo+, 1m 2f 75y)
2:05 Betfair Huxley Stakes (For The Tradesman's Cup) (Group 3) (4yo+, 1m 2f 75y)
2:35 MBNA Chester Vase (Group 3) (3yo, 1m 4f 66y)
3:05 Boodles Diamond Eternity Handicap (3yo, 7f 122y)
3:40 equestrianartuk.com E.B.F. Maiden Stakes (2yo, 5f 16y)
4:15 Investec Structured Products Handicap (3yo, 6f 18y)
4:45 Cheshire Oaks Handicap (4yo+, 1m 2f 75y)
Friday, May 11
1:35 Fat Gary Sports Earl Grosvenor Handicap (4yo+, 7f 122y)
2:05 Stobart Barristers Dee Stakes (Group 3) (3yo, 1m 2f 75y)
2:35 Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes (Group 3) (4yo+, 1m 5f 89y)
3:05 edwardshomes.co.uk E.B.F. Handicap (3yo, 5f 16y)
3:40 Edge Worldwide Handicap (4yo+, 7f 2y)
4:15 highstreetvouchers.com Maiden Fillies' Stakes (3yo, 7f 2y)
4:45 Gravity Global Investments Handicap (4yo+, 1m 4f 66y)