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.

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