herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Expect Gabrial's to be crowned King for a day

Dr Marwan Koukash loves nothing better than a winner at his local Chester track and he again appears to hold the key to the feature event on the opening day of the three-day meeting on the Roodee.

Koukash has seen his colours carried to glory in the Betway Chester Cup for the last two years with Address Unknown triumphing in 2013 while Suegioo, who returns to defend his title, emerged victorious last year.

While Koukash again fires an array of arrows at the two-mile race, preference is for Gabrial's King who appears to have plenty in his favour - not least an advantageous low draw in stall three.

Five of his eight career wins have come on the all-weather at Wolverhampton, but his ability is not limited to the Dunstall Park track as he has also proved up to the mark at Kempton, Newbury and York.

He really caught the eye on his return at Ripon last month when beaten just under four lengths. Gabrial's King would have been a fair bit closer with a clear run as he made up plenty of ground in the final furlong and he is taken to find more improvement, putting him well in the mix for another famous Koukash success.

The Arkle Finance Ltd Cheshire Oaks has not produced a subsequent Epsom victor since Light Shift in 2007 but Victoria Pollard can at least book her ticket for the main event next month with victory here.

Andrew Balding's runner has had just one outing so far, winning a competitive maiden with a rich history at Newbury in very good style.

She won with plenty in hand and given her staying pedigree, she will certainly not be found wanting for stamina if she does tackle the Oaks itself.

Derby clues can be on offer in a couple of maidens towards the end of the card with Sir Isaac Newton and Peterhof both worthy of a mention.

The Homeserve Maiden Stakes is a low-key starting point but it is hard to envisage defeat for Sir Isaac Newton a comment which also applies to Peterhof in the Diabetes UK And British Heart Foundation Handicap.

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