The feature race at Chester on Saturday is the Listed 7f City Plate Stakes (15:10) and Oh This Is Us looks worth siding with at 9/4 with Betfred to retain his crown and remain unbeaten at the Roodee.
This Richard Hannon trained six-year-old is a tough and consistent sort who has won 12 of his 47 starts and has made the frame on 12 occasions.
The son of Acclamation showed a really likeable attitude to land the spoils in this 12 months ago when staying on strongly to give 5lb and a half-a-length beating to Promising.
Oh This Is Us backed went on to finish a solid length second in a Group 3 at Salisbury, before making it two from two here when swooping late to land a competitive 12-runner handicap by three-quarters of a length.
He went on to round off the campaign with two cracking efforts in Group 2 company, finishing a half-length third to subsequent Group 1 Lockinge winner Mustashry at Doncaster and a 1 3/4 lengths runner-up to Ostilio at Longchamp.
Highest rated in line-up
Oh This Is Us has looked as good as ever this season, winning twice and finishing a fine length runner-up to Zaaki in the Group 3 Diomed Stakes at Epsom three starts back.
Those efforts have earned him an official rating of 110 – the highest in this eight-runner line-up.
Oh This Is Us does have to give 8lb to Marie’s Diamond, who is rated 6lb inferior, but his course form counts for plenty and this race is likely to be run to suit as that rival likes to blaze a trail.
A strong gallop is what Oh This Is Us needs to be seen to best effect. He’s a real seven furlong specialist who boasts a fantastic strike rate of 35 per cent over the trip.
With top Irish rider Colm O’Donoghue getting the leg up on him for the first time, Oh This Is Us looks to have lots going for him in the City Plate and the one to be on at a venue which clearly plays to his strengths.
Marie’s Diamond the main danger
The aforementioned Marie’s Diamond is also a course winner and looks the obvious danger now eased in grade.
This three-year-old colt hails from the in-form yard of Mark Johnston and made all to win unchallenged at this venue 13 months ago when beating Gabrial The Wire by 1 1/4 lengths.
Marie’s Diamond went on to land a Group 3 at The Curragh and finish a fine length second to Land Force in the Group 2 Richmond Stakes.
The son of Footstepsinthesand was also far from disgraced when a 4 1/2 lengths fourth of eight to Ten Sovereigns in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.
Although Marie’s Diamond is yet to get his head in front in five starts this season, he has posted some solid efforts in defeat.
They include when beaten just 2 3/4 lengths by Fox Power when fourth in the Group 2 German 2000 Guineas at Cologne, and a 1 3/4 lengths third to the ultra-progressive Space Blues in a Listed contest at Epsom two starts back.
Marie’s Diamond also shaped well for a long way last time out in the Group 3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot where he led until getting headed at the furlong marker and weakened to finish a 6 1/4 lengths eight of 18 to Space Traveller.
This is easier and, given his attacking run-style, Marie’s Diamond could take some pegging back from a good draw in stall three if allowed an easy lead.
A bold bid looks assured and Marie’s Diamond can be backed at a best-price of 7/2 with Unibet.
Vanbrugh can’t be ruled out of City Plate
Vanbrugh is the second highest rated in the line-up, so – having shaped better than the bare result last time out – is another with claims in what is a trappy renewal.
This Prince Khalid Abdullah owned four-year-old colt, who can be backed at 11/4 with William Hill, was a dual winner in France when in the care of Andre Fabre.
He made a winning start for Lambourn handler Charlie Hills when justifying favouritism and staying on strongly to land a conditions contest over 7f at Thirsk back in April.
Vanrbrugh then found soft ground against him when a five-length fifth of seven to Safe Voyage in a 7f Listed contest at Haydock, where he made good headway two from home and took up the running approaching the final furlong before weakening late on.
Connections then decided to drop the son of First Defence back to 6f and have a crack at the valuable Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot.
From a poor draw in stall three, Vanbrugh showed plenty of pace to lead on the unfavoured farside rail until two furlongs from home.
He was beaten just 4 3/4 lengths when 10th of 26 to Cape Bryon in that Heritage Handicap.
It was a cracking effort, as Vanbrugh was one of only two drawn in single figures to finish in the first 15 home.
Judged on that display, he looks well worth another crack at this level and has underfoot conditions to suit.
The step back up to 7f, over which he has a 40 per cent strike rate having won two of his five starts, is another plus.
On the pick of his form, Vanbrugh looks more than capable of making his presence felt in the City Plate.