Capulet catapults himself into Derby picture with Chester triumph

Capulet entered the Epsom Derby picture with a hard-fought success in Thursday's Listed Dee Stakes at Chester.

Racecourse : Chester (Great Britain)
Racecourse : Chester (Great Britain) Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The Aidan O'Brien-trained three-year-old was well-backed to land a valuable prize on the all-weather at Chelmsford on his reappearance but could only manage fourth place behind the reopposing Bracken's Laugh.

However, armed with a step up in trip and that reappearance outing under his belt, the son of Justify surged to victory by fending off the Richard Hughes-trained Bracken's Laugh.

There was a nasty incident at the beginning of the one mile two and a half furlong Listed contest which saw Harper's Fairy withdrawn after he seemed to kick a stalls handler.

With the field down to just four runners, Ryan Moore made his intentions clear from the outset as he kicked Capulet to the head of affairs. God's Window was slowly away and playing catch up from there on in, whilst Brian Meehan's Feilden Stakes winner Jayarbe soon came under pressure as the tempo quickened round the final bend.

Bracken's Laugh looked to travel well in behind the leader's slipstream and many would have expected him to pick the leader up once Finley Marsh found racing room in the straight. But Capulet continued to find on the front end under a resolute Ryan Moore and would go on to record a half-length success.

The 7/4 market leader Jayarbe finished a further three and a quarter lengths behind in third.

BetVictor went a standout 16/1 for the Epsom Classic on the back of Capulet's success.

Paul Smith, son of co-owner Derrick Smith, said: "That was very pleasing, and I thought Ryan gave him a lovely ride. He appreciated the step up in trip, no doubt, he's an uncomplicated horse, he travels well so I suppose it will be the French Derby or the English Derby.

"We know he gets ten furlongs well and he'd probably get a mile and a half the way he runs so we're delighted with him.

"We have the trials at the weekend and next week and Aidan will sit down with the lads and discuss the plan from there.

"He's a Justify so it's nice to see, we're very pleased. Ryan was delighted, he said it was very uncomplicated, he got him into a nice rhythm, he's a kind horse and stepping up in trip wouldn't be a problem.

"He turned the form around with the second, but I think he really appreciated the step up in trip there."

'I'd like to think he might be a Britannia horse' – Never So Brave books Ascot ticket

Never So Brave could be set for a June trip to the Royal Meeting following a commanding success on the Roodee.

Sir Michael Stoute's charge looked hugely unlucky to bump into future Group 1 winners Vandeek and Ancient Wisdom as a two-year-old before getting off the mark in effortless style at Thirsk last month.

An opening mark of 94 saw the son of No Nay Never sent off an 11/10 chance at Chester and in all truth, the result never looked in doubt as Ryan Moore sat in the box seat behind the leaders before angling his way into the clear off the final bend.

He quickened up nicely to put two lengths between himself and the runner-up Witness Stand.

"He's just progressing but we were very hopeful coming here," said Phillip Robinson, racing manager for owner Saeed Suhail.

"He had some nice form last year and practically won as he liked at Thirsk. He looks to be going in the right direction and has done everything that was asked of him today.

"If he gets the mile, you'd like to think he could be a Britannia (Royal Ascot Handicap) horse."

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