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Wirko expected to relish Chester Vase challenge

Wirko bids to cement his Cazoo Derby claims with victory in the Chester Vase.

Charlie Appleby’s colt is already guaranteed a place in the premier Classic, having made a successful start to his campaign in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom a fortnight ago – a Listed event which carries automatic qualification for the Epsom showpiece on June 5.

But with the Kingman colt having only run three times to date, Appleby is keen to give him more experience and views Wednesday’s Group Three contest as an ideal stepping-stone to Epsom.

He said: “He’s got his golden ticket to Epsom, but firstly we want to give him some more experience and secondly, we hope the step up to a mile and a half at Chester will see further improvement.

“He did all his best work in the last couple of hundred (yards) at Epsom and he’s a horse who we think, with his pedigree and the way he races, should be suited by a step up in trip.

“He’s by Kingman, but he does have a German pedigree on the dam’s side, so one would hope he’ll be able to handle softer ground.”

Wirko is one of two Godolphin-owned runners along with John and Thady Gosden’s Law Of The Sea, the mount of Frankie Dettori.

The son of Derby hero Golden Horn is two from two this year, most recently impressing in a novice event at Leicester.

Thady Gosden said: “He’s won well on his last two starts, firstly at Kempton and then at Leicester last time.

“He’s a nice horse who has already won over a mile and a half and he should handle the soft ground.

“It’s a tough race, but hopefully he’ll run well.”

Aidan O’Brien at Chester
Aidan O’Brien at Chester (David Davies/PA)

Aidan O’Brien has won the Chester Vase on a record nine occasions and declared three runners for this year’s renewal.

However, with both likely favourite Sir Lamorak and San Martino taken out on account of unsuitable ground, the Ballydoyle handler will rely on Sandhurst, who steps up in distance after after finishing sixth in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket three weeks ago.

Andrew Balding’s Youth Spirit, the Richard Hannon-trained Fancy Man and Pleasant Man from Roger Charlton’s yard complete the line-up.

Wirko is Vase choice for Appleby

Charlie Appleby’s Wirko will put his Derby credentials on the line in the Chester Vase.

The Kingman colt booked himself a golden ticket into the Classic when winning the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom last time out.

He is Appleby’s chosen runner on Wednesday – with stablemates Adayar and Yibir, second and third in Sandown’s Classic Trial, both still possible for the Dee Stakes later in the week.

Aidan O’Brien has declared three in the eight-strong Vase field.

Sir Lamorak looks his first string, based on recent wins at Dundalk and Leopardstown. Sandhurst, sixth in the Craven, and San Martino will also represent Ballydoyle.

Fresh from his 1000 Guineas success, Frankie Dettori is chasing more big-race glory on Law Of The Sea for John and Thady Gosden. The Golden Horn colt has been very impressive the last twice.

Andrew Balding’s Youth Spirit and Richard Hannon’s Fancy Man, fourth and fifth in the Feilden Stakes on their return, take each other on again – while Oisin Murphy rides Pleasant Man for Roger Charlton.

Seven will go to post for the Weatherbys Epassport Cheshire Oaks, headed by Mark Johnston’s Dubai Fountain.

While she may not have the usual profile of a Classic winner, having had seven runs at two, she held her form remarkably well.

Second to 1000 Guineas third Fev Rover in a Listed race at Sandown in July, having won her first two outings, she was also second in the Sweet Solera and the May Hill before running very creditably to be fourth in the Fillies’ Mile on her final start – with Guineas winner Mother Earth just in front of her.

Roger Varian will be represented by the unbeaten Zeyaadah at Chester
Roger Varian will be represented by the unbeaten Zeyaadah at Chester (Mike Egerton/PA)

Roger Varian’s Zeyaadah is unbeaten in three starts to date, including a Listed event which had its form boosted on Sunday at Newmarket by runner-up Mystery Angel.

The Gosdens will be hoping to get some valuable black type into Darlectable You, second on both her outings to date. She is by Dubawi and out of Dar Re Mi, making her a full sister to three-time Group One winner Too Darn Hot.

Ryan Moore has been booked by Donnacha O’Brien to ride Nicest, a debut winner who was fifth in a Group Three on her only other outing.

Aidan O’Brien runs La Joconde, a Frankel filly who is still a maiden after five starts.

Fozzy Stack’s Ahandfulofsummers and Hugo Palmer’s Quenelle D’Or complete the field.

Wirko books Derby ticket with late Epsom burst

Charlie Appleby was delighted to see Wirko earn himself a place in the Cazoo Derby with a last-gasp victory in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom.

An intriguing field of eight runners went to post for the Listed contest, with Richard Fahey’s Pythagoras leading the octet for much of the 10-furlong journey.

John and Thady Gosden’s Uncle Bryn, a son of Derby hero Sea The Stars, was the 11-10 favourite following successive wide-margin wins on the all-weather – and briefly hit the front passing the two-furlong marker under Frankie Dettori.

However, he was mastered late on by Martyn Meade-trained filly Technique, before 11-2 chance Wirko – making his turf debut in the hands of William Buick – picked them both up to claim top honours by a head.

Kingman colt Wirko, who had previously finished second at Wolverhampton before going one better at Kempton in early November, was not entered for the Derby – but is now guaranteed a starting place after landing this ‘win and you’re in’ contest.

Appleby said: “I felt that every horse in the field today had similar credentials and as it’s turned out, the first three home were the least experienced in the field.

“Our horse had wintered well and we felt 10 furlongs was going to suit him.

Charlie Appleby was delighted with Wirko
Charlie Appleby was delighted with Wirko (Simon Cooper/PA)

“He has a great staying pedigree on the dam’s side, so he ticks a few nice boxes (for the Derby).

“He was one of the horses we hadn’t entered for the Derby, so we thought that he could go and earn his stripes into the race today.”

The Moulton Paddocks handler plans to give Wirko – who was introduced at 16-1 for the premier Classic by Betfair – one more run before returning to Epsom on the first Saturday in June.

He added: “He’s in the Derby now and we’ll try to get one more run into him to give him some more experience.

“Whether he goes to Chester or Lingfield, we’ll see just have to see – we’ll see how the horse comes out of the race and take it from there.

“As you know, experience is invaluable going to Epsom, especially in the Derby”

Wirko’s victory continues a fantastic start to the season for Appleby, particularly with his Classic contingent.

Just last week he saddled the first two home in the Craven Stakes in Master Of The Seas and La Barrosa, while One Ruler heads ante-post lists for the 2000 Guineas.

Master Of The Seas (right) winning the Craven Stakes
Master Of The Seas (right) winning the Craven Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“I was hopeful that we had a nice bunch of three-year-olds,” said Appleby.

“We might not have had a Group One-winning two-year-old last season, but I just felt with the type of horse we had, we had a lot of strength in depth in the three-year-old department this year.

“They’ve all wintered well and had the pedigrees to do well from two to three – and be three-year-olds, more importantly.

“So far it’s gone well and long may it continue – it’s a long season ahead of us!”

Like Wirko, Technique is set to be back at Epsom next month, for the Oaks.

Technique (pink colours) is set for the Oaks
Technique (pink colours) is set for the Oaks (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Meade said: “It looked as though she handled the track and we always thought she would. She is good at home and does everything you want. I just loved the way she just cruised around the side there and coped with the bends. The whole idea was to try her on this track.

“I think we will come back here. I don’t think we will go anywhere in between as we can do it all at home. Why risk her doing anything else?”

Third-home Uncle Bryn will improve for the experience, according to Gosden, who said: “He was coltish in proceedings and looking at everything. He will come on mentally for the run.”