O’Brien fires four arrows at Chester Vase
Aidan O'Brien has four chances as he attempts to maintain his stranglehold on the MBNA Chester Vase on Thursday.
The Ballydoyle trainer has won this Group Three contest over an extended mile and a half for the last four years and a record seven times in all, including with subsequent Derby hero Ruler Of The World in 2013.
All four of his runners in this year's renewal hold entries in the Investec-sponsored Classic on 3 June, although at this stage none are prominent in the betting which is currently headed by O'Brien's 2000 Guineas victor Churchill.
Six-times Vase winner Ryan Moore takes the ride on the unexposed Venice Beach, who bolted up in a Tipperary maiden on the last of his three starts when stepped up to a mile and a half.
Wayne Lordan, who steered home Winter for the O'Brien stable in the 1000 Guineas last Sunday, gets the leg up on Finn McCool, who was not disgraced when unplaced behind Rivet in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in October.
Seamie Heffernan is aboard Wings Of Eagles, who also faced Group One company on his final start as a juvenile in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud.
O'Brien's son Donnacha rides The Anvil, who got off the mark at Dundalk on his seasonal debut six weeks ago after being highly-tried as a youngster.
O'Brien said: "Venice Beach is in good form. He progressed nicely from Leopardstown to Tipperary and we think he's progressing still. He got the trip well in Tipperary.
"The Anvil is in good form and won nicely at Dundalk. We didn't think the trip would be a problem to him and always thought he'd stay further than a mile and a quarter.
"Wings Of Eagles ran a nice race in France last year, on his last run. He's been working nicely and he's in good form.
"He can be a little bit lazy" – Aidan O'Brien on Finn McCool
"We always liked Finn McCool last year and he won a maiden in Navan. Obviously it's a big step up in trip, but we always thought he might get the trip. He's in good form."
Finn McCool sports first-time cheekpieces and O'Brien added: "He can be a little bit lazy."
The fifth Irish runner is Joseph O'Brien's Druids Cross, who opened his account at Dundalk in November.
Godolphin have an interesting proposition in Tamleek, who confirmed the promise of his Yarmouth debut in October when trotting up in a 10-furlong maiden at Newmarket last month.
His trainer Saeed bin Suroor said: "Tamleek won well at Newmarket and has been working nicely.
"This is another step forward and will tell us which direction to take in the future with him."
Cunco gave Frankel his first winner as a stallion from his very first runner when making a winning debut at Newbury 12 months ago and though he failed to add to that tally, he ran creditably in several Pattern races.
The John Gosden-trained colt got this year off to a good start with victory in the Group Three bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown two weeks ago.
Another son of Frankel chasing Group race honours is Count Octave, who shaped well on his only run as a two-year-old.
The Andrew Balding-trained colt had no difficulty landing the odds against four rivals on his return at Wolverhampton in March, but takes a hike in grade.
"Obviously it's a big step up in class for him after he won a Wolverhampton maiden, but he did it nicely," said Balding.
"We've always liked the horse, he's a very well-bred horse. It will be interesting to see how he goes. We know he stays.
"He's not the finished article yet from a maturity point of view, but I hope he runs well."
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