Ryan files his final column from Chester's May Festival where he has a trio of rides including Ormonde Stakes-chasing US Army Ranger, the winner of last year's Chester Vase...
"This race look to have plenty of depth this year, too, and 12 runners will make things interesting from my draw in nine."
Cliffs Of Moher
I didn't ride him on his two starts last season, so I can't give you a first-hand opinion of him, but Aidan seems very happy coming into this race. There is a good blend of stamina and speed in his pedigree, being a Galileo out a well-related 5f winner, and he certainly looked a very smart prospect when winning over 7f at Leopardstown towards the back-end. He beat Orderofthegarter by more than five lengths there and I am sure many will read a lot into what the runner-up has done this season - I gather he is already the third favourite for the Derby - but that can sometimes be a dangerous position to take, with horses improving and progressing all the time.
But, as I said, he was undoubtedly impressive at Leopardstown, the form looks strong and he apparently comes here in good form at home. This is another race that will help us form our Derby picture, so let's hope we can get back to winning ways after drawing a blank in the past two years. There are some horses in here with similar profiles, though, and I really liked Mirage Dancer when I rode him to win at Doncaster last season. That race has worked out very well, too, and he has a beautiful pedigree.
He comes into the sprint handicap in good form and a draw in five could have been worse. He went up 8lb for finishing second in a Listed race over 6f at Doncaster last season but he has run well off this mark on the all-weather recently, as well as in good conditions races, and has a bit of early pace, so he obviously has chances.
US Army Ranger
Things didn't really go entirely his way after he won the Chester Vase here last season, though his second to Harzand in the Derby was obviously a top-class effort and I wouldn't underestimate the merit of his second to Zhukova either. He made a satisfactory return for me when third at Naas over 1m2f last month and I would expect him to show the benefit of that run here. He steps up to this trip for the first time but it promises to suit.
Of the others, I rode Midterm to finish fifth in the John Porter on his return and he stuck on well after getting outpaced a fair way out that day. The longer trip should definitely suit him and that run will have brought him on a fair amount, too. This race look to have plenty of depth this year, too, and 12 runners will make things interesting from my draw in nine.