Sky Sports Racing senior analyst Jamie Lynch is back with five selections for Saturday’s high-quality meeting in Chester.
ALSAKIB – 2.20
In a weird way, it’s almost as much the races she didn’t run as the one she did (and won) that define Orchid Bloom before her late reappearance at Chester in 2.20.
In the recent past, she has been withdrawn not once but twice from graduation races, first at Ascot, then a Listed event at York just last week, and, looking forward, her permanent entry. in the Coronation Stakes speaks volumes, which fosters the feeling that she is held in high regard, very high regard, by William Haggas.
However, when it came to her impressive 2-year-old win at Newmarket, she needed a proving ground and a proving ground (off the Dip), to really turn it on at the end and, in as such, it is hard to believe that ALSAKIB won’t get it at some point around Chester, given the style and strength of what he did on his Kempton debut last month.
Significantly sent off as a favourite, he separated two previous winners, smoothly in the process, as if he would fit in well at Chester, just unable to catch Onnight who had an advantage in experience but also in position, having dictated. Under his penalty, Orchid Bloom will indeed have to be on the edge of the Listed class to beat the weaker and more mobile Alsakib, who is aiming to give Andrew Balding a remarkable fifth win in the novice’s last six editions.
SIOUX WARRIOR – 2.55
I can’t be the only one whose mouth means Battaash when referring to Battaah it’s only missing an “s” it’s also missing a few mph from it but that’s not the reason any the heat will be on Battaah in the 2.55, more as his form was hugely hoisted by Elite Status’ resounding success in the National Stakes at Sandown on Thursday.
All the same, Elite Status basically played with him in Doncaster, and don’t forget that SIOUX WARRIOR finished one place ahead of Battaah when the two debuted. There was only half a length between them that day, but Sioux Warrior looked even more superior for a long time, advancing briefly before running to the green under pressure, still cultivating an edge.
Battaah has the advantages of an extra run and the draw in one, but Sioux Warrior has the biggest ticket to improve, not just in the way he shaped himself at Doncaster, but also in his pedigree, being a half-brother to Royal Aclaim, who’ll be among the favorites for the Temple Stakes at Haydock on Saturday, and she and Sioux Warrior sire (Sioux Nation) like the fast pitches, which will be more like Doncaster.
PONS AELIUS – 3.35
It’s a simple case – a class case – for PONS AELIUSwhose last three races have been in the company of 0-95 and now finds himself in an 0-75, a little below him in truth.
If this race was on the All-Weather, then Pons Aelius would not be eligible as the handicapper split his rating (he has 82 on the synthetics), and in the Newmarket handicap in which he finished second in the preferred additive last week, every other horse in this race was overqualified for that 0-75.
That’s a pretty quick turnaround (eight days) for a stayer, but Pons Aelius thrives on a busy schedule, and it’s worth noting that two of his wins last year came within a similar six and seven days.
This will be his first experience of Chester, but he’s the right guy for it, being a top runner who’s also comfortable on shorter trips, so has more gears, as well as more class, compared mostly here.
RED MIRAGE – 4.05
In the 4.05 handicap no less than six of the entrants raced at the Boodles May Festival, two from the lower 0-85 tier (Paws For Thought in third and Roudemental ninth) and four from the top class handicap on the same 7f extended than this precious prize, including Boardman (fifth) who has won it for the past two years, although the jury is still out on whether he is still the same strength at the age of seven.
Percy’s Lad did the best of the quartet in third, from a wide draw and a position closer to steady pace than probably ideal, and so he deserves to be the favorite for that, but RED MIRAGE could beat many of them, with the feeling that this may have been his main target beyond the Boodles May Festival.
This is because the last time was his reappearance, as well as his debut for John Quinn, and his SP of 11-1 told of lukewarm expectations, in addition to the fact that he was held back more than usual (since the pit 10), which inadvertently helped as the race went on, but the way he got home was still encouraging with an eye on him to be perfect for it.
Pit four is perfect as the three inside him are all first, inviting him to take the stalking ‘box seat’, the same platform that got him off the ground on this course and this distance in May 2022.
CHILLI – 5.45
This represents one of the first opportunities for 3-year-olds to take on their seniors with a big change, up to 17lbs weight-for-age on 12f at this time of year, and the results in this very race highlights its value: in the three previous editions, the four 3-year-olds who ran in the races won two victories and one second.
There are two 3-year-olds lined up this time, Demilion, the obvious after his second over the course and distance at the Boodles May Festival, but CHILLI is equally interesting.
Except for a few missions when he flies too high, Chillhi has a happy habit of increasing his rating by running, depending on the distance, and even if he is not high to stay that far, he forms like he will, rallying at the end of 10f at Ascot a fortnight ago when he was beaten just a length and three quarters into fifth behind Masai Mara and Westerton, who would either be a favorite in the short term for this handicap.
He has even more reason than Demilion to improve again here.