Steve Hughes has selections for the first two races on day two of Chester’s meeting
It looks best to get in early on Thursday with the first two races at Chester presenting clear chances for progressive 4yo’s to continue on their upward curve.
Chester 2.10: Collaboration
A wind operation over the winter has certainly worked wonders for Collaboration, a horse who had shown plenty of promise in his early races, only for that progress to stall in the latter half of last season.
He has good form on soft ground having won his maiden as a juvenile at Brighton in such conditions and he was then a good second to the useful Windshear on bottomless ground at Sandown last spring. He was then highly tried in some of the valuable middle distance 3yo handicaps during the summer, but his form dropped away completely by year end.
He was back to his best though when winning on his comeback at Windsor last month, beating Kastini by 2l, but was then far more impressive when taking the more competitive City & Suburban Handicap by a runaway 4l at Epsom the following week. He has gone up 20lbs all told for those two victories, but it is impossible to gauge just how much Andrew Balding’s charge has improved for the wind op and critically he has a decent inside draw to utilise today.
Chester 2.40: Cannock Chase
Although only third of five on his comeback run in a Group 3 at Sandown, that was a perfectly satisfactory reappearance given that front runners were greatly favoured on the day and that was his first outing since a brilliant win at Royal Ascot ten months previously.
He won on all three of his outings in 2014, winning by a wide margin on soft ground in a Windsor maiden (his half-brother Pisco Sour was a Royal Ascot winner on slow going a few seasons ago) so he should have no difficulty with conditions at Chester today. He was an impressive winner of a competitive Newbury handicap next time and then justified strong market support to make an immediate winning leap into group company at Ascot.
He did nothing wrong when third to Western Hymn at Sandown, but he was never quite able to make up the ground on the first two in holding conditions. He is entitled to come on plenty for that run and with entries in three Group 1 contests hold over the next few weeks is clearly expected to come through at this lower grade on the way.
2pts win – Collaboration – 2.10 Chester – 9/4 general
1pt win – Cannock Chase – 2.40 Chester – 13/8 Skybet