Simon Holt previews Wednesday's 188Bet Chester Cup and fancied The Cashel Man to come out on top on his seasonal return.
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THE CASHEL MAN, a fast-finishing fourth in last season's Cesarewitch after being hampered in the early stages, looks set to mount a bold bid on his reappearance in Wednesday's Chester Cup.
David Simcock's gelding was almost stopped in his tracks at Newmarket when Seismos unseated his rider, and made up an enormous amount of ground down the centre of the course to be beaten just over four lengths behind last week's Sagaro Stakes winner Sweet Selection, with the re-opposing First Mohican and Sea Of Heaven just ahead of him in second and third.
Clearly a thorough stayer, The Cashel Man thrived in his last three outings in 2016, finishing third behind Oceane and Nakeeta (now 2lb worse off) at the York Ebor meeting and then chasing home Penglai Pavilion in the Cesarewitch Trial.
Simcock, who is a good trainer of this type of horse, is likely to have The Cashel Man well forward and the five-year-old has a good record fresh having won first time out in 2014 before finishing second at York after a long lay-off on his reappearace last May.
A stall position of eight should give jockey William Buick a few options and, given the necessary luck in running round Chester, few in the field are likely to see out the two-and-a-quarter miles better than The Cashel Man, whose owner Mrs Fitri Hay took the prize 12 months ago with the Nicky Henderson-trained No Heretic.
While First Mohican (badly drawn on the wide outside) has tended to find one or two too good for him in these big handicaps, the Cesarewitch third Sea Of Heaven is certainly progressive and he is bound to have been well tuned up by Sir Mark Prescott.
Luke Morris's mount travelled well into contention at Newmarket only to flatten out a bit in the closing stages but he had a decent four-year-old campaign, winning over two miles at Ascot (by a half length from Nakeeta) in July and then looking unlucky under weak handling in the Shergar Cup. He looks sure to be thereabouts but has stall 14 to overcome.
Nakeeta surely deserves a big handicap win after finishing second in this race (now 10lb higher) to No Heretic last year and again going down narrowly to Golden Spear in the Irish November Handicap at Leopardstown in October, but the handicapper keeps putting him up for losing and Jamie Spencer's mount is now required to concede weight all round.
Golden Spear, from a stable always worth noting in big handicaps, went up 6lb for that Leopardstown victory and was a bit expensive to follow over hurdles during the winter. However, the booking of Ryan Moore is obviously a big positive.
Of the others, Watersmeet would have a leading chance if able to transfer his fine form on the all-weather during the winter to turf, but hasn't won on this surface since May 2015, while the 'last man in' Blakeney Point is clearly open to further improvement and takes a step up in class receiving weight all round after winning the Queens Prize at Kempton last month (Magic Circle fifth).
Who Dares Wins has been running well over hurdles, finishing third in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival on his latest start, and is another to consider especially as he won in good style over a mile-and-a-half here last July (up 7lb since). His best form on the Flat has come at slightly shorter distances.
Posted at 0950 BST on 09/05/17.