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Gabrial's King set to rule and give Koukash Cup treble

By Anita Chambers

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 tomorrow.

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.

That win on the Knavesmire was his most recent success last July with a handful of runs towards the end of the year failing to yield any joy for Richard Fahey's charge.

However, he really caught the eye on his return at Ripon last month when beaten just under four lengths into second by the reopposing Trip To Paris.

That rival is clearly well handicapped, but 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 most improvement of the pair, putting him well in the mix for another famous Koukash success.

The Arkle Finance Ltd Cheshire Oaks hasn't 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.

Her three-quarter-length verdict does not really tell the full story as 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. Sir Isaac Newton is entered in almost everything at this stage and while this 3.6m guineas purchase was beaten at odds-on on his debut last term, there was no disgrace in playing second fiddle to the Epsom-bound Zawraq.

The Homeserve Maiden Stakes is a low-key starting point, but it is hard to envisage defeat for the Galileo colt. That also applies to Peterhof in the Diabetes UK And British Heart Foundation Handicap.

A starting mark of 82 hardly screams Classic contender but his entries indicate otherwise and this would not be the first time Sir Michael Stoute has used a competitive handicap to get a marker on a potentially good three-year-old.

Serene Beauty shed her maiden tag at the first time of asking and can follow up in the Call Star Spreads On 00353 1884 8114 Handicap at Brighton.

Pinzolo looks the class act in Chelmsford's Conditions Stakes while Basford Ben can bring up his hat-trick in the Handicap Chase at Uttoxeter.

Resolute Reformer can also make it three on the spin in the Bedmax Handicap Chase at Kelso.

Belfast Telegraph


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