It goes against the grain to select a short-priced favourite in a race as tricky as the Chester Cup but Steve Rogers could hardly have impressed me more when winning at Kempton last time and he looks an improved horse since his very creditable end of season effort in last year’s Cesarewitch.

In addition, he’s drawn in stall 3 and this race has been the target for some time. It is a race that Roger Varian has been particularly fond of for some time having been an integral part of Michael Jarvis’s operation when Anak Pekan won it twice in 2004 and 2005.

I see very few negatives but it would be folly not to have a dart at one at a bigger price as well, and the each-way horse in the race is No Heretic, who hasn’t run on the Flat for nearly three years but showed on a recent hurdles outing that he is still a horse of some talent. Nicky Henderson has a great record in these top Flat handicaps and Jamie Spencer is always a positive booking in races of this nature.

The Hugo Palmer bandwagon might just keep on rolling in the Lily Agnes (2.10) as Copper Knight has shown significant promise on both starts so far and can be rated a little bit better than the bare result last time. At the likely odds, I think this horse is value against likely favourite Fiery Character, whose debut form is only comparable to that of the selection.

I think Somehow is a very solid favourite in the Cheshire Oak (2.40), a race that Aidan O’Brien has a terrific record in, but the market seems to have located her even more than it had his previous winners of the race. Whilst she is a filly of huge potential, there is no mileage in her price and, with three places on offer, I would prefer to take an each-way chance on Doubly Motivated who finished last at Ascot last week but it was the most promising effort from a horse finishing in that position that I have seen in a long time. She was trying to make ground into a quickening pace and faced an impossible task given the way the race the panned out. The step up in trip will suit Charlie Hills’ filly and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she could run into a place at huge odds.

I’m going to chance course specialist Blithe Spirit in the handicap at 3.45. Her trainer has a very good record in sprints at this track and this mare is not badly drawn in stall 8. She should be spot on after a pipe-opener at Nottingham last month and she is not at all badly handicapped if things go right.

The best bet at Chester today is the Zzoro in the 5.25. He finished second behind the smart Speed Company at Newmarket last month and the winner was far from disgraced in a Listed race on the Rowley Mile at the weekend. If Zzoro can improve at all on that first run of the campaign then he ought to have too many guns for today’s rivals.
Steve Rogers - 1pt @ 4/1