Forest Ranger looks decent value at 7/2 with Paddy Power to land back-to-back successes in the 1m 2f Group 2 Huxley Stakes on the final day of Chester’s May Festival on Friday (14:25).
This Richard Fahey trained five-year-old got the job done in good style 12 months ago when showing plenty of tactical pace to chase the leaders, before running on strongly from the furlong marker to readily beat War Decree by 1 1/4 lengths.
The son of Lawman then failed to sparkle in his next three starts before bouncing back and rounding off the campaign with a fine neck second to Euginio in a Group 3 at Newmarket.
Forest Ranger has had just two starts this year, finishing seventh in a Group 1 at Meydan before running a blinder at Newmarket last month when a 2 3/4 lengths second of 10 to Zabeel Prince in the Group 3 Earl Of Sefton Stakes.
The winner in an ultra-progressive sort and Forest Ranger had some smart types in behind, including dual Group 2 winner Mustashry who finished third.
It was a run which suggested Forest Ranger was ready to go in again and this has undoubtedly been his early season target.
The yard has also been among the winners of late and another plus is that Forest Ranger is versatile as regard ground.
With regular pilot Tony Hamilton also in fine form at present, everything points to a big run and Forest Ranger looks primed to make a bold bid to retain his crown.
Addeybb and Matterhorn main dangers
Addeybb is officially the top rated in the line up and 5lb superior to Forest Ranger according to the assessor, so has to be feared – if his stamina holds out now tackling 1m 2f for the first time.
Trained by the in-form William Haggas, who is operating at a strike rate of 26 per cent in the last 14 days at the time of writing, this five-year-old could not have been more impressive when landing last year’s Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster by 2 3/4 lengths from Lord Glitters.
He then took the step up into Group 2 company in his stride when showing a tremendous turn of foot to impressively beat Stormy Antarctic by 2 3/4 lengths in a Group 2 at Sandown.
That form commands Addeybb the utmost respect in this, but he has failed to run anywhere near that level in three subsequent outings and now has questions to answer.
Another negative is that all his best form has come at a mile, so at 5/2 with Unibet he looks opposable on balance.
The Mark Johnston trained Matterhorn, a 2/1 shot with 888Sport, is a progressive sort who has won seven of his 10 starts so is another with claims.
He was very impressive last time out when slamming Wissahickon by seven lengths in the Easter Classic on All-Weather Finals day at Lingfield, and a revised rating of 115 is just 2lb lower than that of Addeybb.
However, all his best form has come on artificial surfaces and it remains to be seen if he can be as effective. So, taking everything into account, Forest Ranger looks the most solid betting proposition in this.
Baraweez weighted to go well in opener
In the 7f Liverpool Gin Earl Grosvenor Handicap that gets proceedings underway on Chester Cup day (13:50), the Brian Ellison trained Baraweez looks weighted to run a huge race, so looks cracking each-way value at the 11/1 on offer with Coral.
This nine-year-old put in an incredible performance when overcoming all sorts of trouble in-running to beat Gossiping by 1 1/4 lengths in this 12 months ago off a mark of 99.
After getting hampered and shuffled back to the rear, the son of Cape Cross made good headway when switched right a furlong from home before quickening up smartly in the final 100 yards to win going away.
Baraweez went on to land another success over course and distance two starts later when again coming from off the pace to score by 1 3/4 lengths off a rating of 93.
He was ran very well when a 2 3/4 lengths seventh of 19 to Safe Voyage at the Galway Festival of 100 and is now able to race off a reduced rating of 89.
It gives Baraweez major claims from a handicapping perspective at a track which clearly plays to his strengths, while a recent spin at Thirsk should have out him spot on for this.
Ptarmigan Ridge primed for bold bid
There are plenty of dangers in a wide-open contest in which 16 are set to go to post, but Ptarmigan Ridge makes more appeal than most at 5/1 with Betfred following a fine run on debut for trainer Richard Hughes.
That came on seasonal bow at Haydock 13 days ago where the five-year-old held every chance a furlong from home, before being unable to find any extra and finishing a 1 1/4 lengths second of 14 to Safe Voyage in a what looked a warm class 2 contest for the grade.
Ptarmigan Ridge has Cold Stare and Shady McCoy well behind in ninth and 11th respectively, so has nothing to fear from that re-opposing pair.
A 3lb rise for that fine effort also looks very fair, as he looks the type that should have plenty more to offer for his new handler who has been firmly among the winners of late.
Epaulement can collect for in-form Dascombe
Cheshire handler Tom Dascombe has his team in fine fettle, and Epaulement looks worth a wager at 4/1 with Ladbrokes to provide him with another winner in the 1m 2f Boodles Diamond Handicap (15:00).
This four-year-old is a tough and consistent sort who has won three of his seven starts on the turf, and boasts a terrific strike rate of 75 per cent over the trip.
The son of Epaulette progressed with each outing last season and looked better than ever on return to action at Ripon last month when landing a 10-runner affair by half-a-length from Poet’s Prince.
Epaulement made all under Richard Kingscote and found plenty when challenged inside the final furlong to score a shade cosily. A 3lb rise in the weights for that looks very fair and his attacking run-style is perfect for this venue.
Restorer won this 12 months ago on seasonal reappearance, so fitness is unlikely to be an issue and off just 5lb higher is feared most.
The Ian Williams trained seven-year-old made all and ran on strongly to beat Dark Red by 1 3/4 lengths off a mark of 95, and went on to bag another success at Leicester in October off 97.
Restorer also ran well when seventh of 23 to Royalie Line in the valuable November Handicap at Doncaster off a rating of 98, so a mark of 100 should not be beyond him.
The booking of Ryan Moore to do the steering also suggest connections mean business as he has a strike rate of 33 per cent when teaming up with the yard in the past 12 months. Restorer can be backed at 6/1 with William Hill.