Hills has eyes on cup glory
Charlie Hills believes he has a good chance of emulating his father by winning the StanJames.com Chester Cup on the Roodee on Wednesday.
Barry Hills loved nothing better than having a winner at Chester's May Festival and collected the big race twice with Rainbow High in 1999 and 2001 and then with Daraahem in 2009.
After taking over from his father in 2011, the new incumbent of Faringdon Place has a leading contender for the extended two-and-a-quarter-mile handicap in Glenard.
Luck is already on Hills' side as the four-year-old was the last horse to make the cut for the maximum 17-strong field, while several horses, including ante-post Perfect Heart, missed out.
Glenard has had the benefit of a pipe-opener at Kempton five weeks ago when he was a close sixth to Castilo Del Diablo.
Hills has also secured the services of Liverpool-born jockey Franny Norton, one of the best exponents around Chester.
"The ground looks like it's come good for him and he should run a big race. He should get the trip and I'm sure he'll be thereabouts," said Hills.
"He should get into a good rhythm and if he settles nicely he'd have every chance.
"We've got Franny Norton and he's got all the experience in the world round there."
Daraahem was owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, who has a major player this year in Mubaraza.
The five-year-old, trained by Ed Dunlop, shaped encouragingly on his reappearance when second at Ripon behind Angel Gabrial, who is also in the line-up.
"He ran a really good race at Ripon and we were very happy with him," said Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.
"He was giving 6lb to the winner and Paul Mulrennan said afterwards he ended up getting there a bit soon.
"The horse couldn't have done better and as long as he's progressed from that, I think he'll run a good race.
"Five looks a good draw and is encouraging."
Angel Gabrial is one of five horses wearing the colours of Dr Marwan Koukash, who was successful 12 months ago with Address Unknown.
Another of his team is Suegioo, who was in action on the same Ripon card when he was third to Battalion.
Trainer Marco Botti has slight reservations about this race coming a little too soon.
"He ran a good race at Ripon. I wish there were a few more days between that race and the other," said the Newmarket handler.
"He stays, but he was a little but rusty when he ran at Ripon and he did his best in the final furlong and stayed on.
"I'm hoping the sharper track at Chester will suit him.
"He's got a good draw (14). I can't complain about that."
Communicator has produced some of his best races at Chester, including finishing third in the Ormonde last year, and has been running consistently well throughout the all-weather season.
He was third in the marathon at Lingfield behind Litigant and trainer Andrew Balding thinks he has a good shout.
"You'd like to think he has a big chance," said the Kingsclere handler.
"He's got some very good course form in the book, he has a good draw in two and has been running well all winter. He's got plenty going for him."