CHESTER'S May Festival comes to a climax today with the Blue Square Ormonde Stakes and the Dee Stakes.
Excellent initial entries demonstrate why the £65,000 Dee Stakes is renowned as a major trial for The Derby.
Top Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien - fresh from sending out the winners of both the 1000 and 2000 Guineas - is having his first runners at Chester this week on the advice of his new stable jockey Kieren Fallon, who is probably the best rider currently around The Roodee.
Fallon's Derby winners Oath and Kris Kin won the Dee Stakes before going on to win at Epsom.
The trainer's intended runner in the race is Gypsy King which, after just a single race last season, is already among the leading contenders for this year's Derby.
Half an hour after the Dee Stakes, the older horses get a chance to show their qualities in the £75,000 Blue Square Ormonde Stakes over a distance of just under one and three quarter miles.
The race is named after Ormonde, who won all 15 races of his career and, as a three-year-old in 1886, became one of the few horses in history to win the Triple Crown of 2000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger.
Such was Ormonde's fame that he appeared at a reception in his honour at Grosvenor House, London, where he was fed carnations by the Queen of Belgium and geraniums by Indian princes!
Among this year's entries for the Blue Square Ormonde Stakes are last year's MBNA Europe Bank Chester Vase winner Red Lancer and Aidan O'Brien's Acropolis which was fourth in last autumn's Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe in Paris.