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Chester Preview: Dee Stakes (14.40)

Prince Gagarin looks decent value to turn over the favourite Smuggler’s Cove in the Dee Stakes at Chester today (14.40).

The Ed Dunlop trained colt had a progressive profile as a juvenile last season when winning two of his five starts.

After shaping with bags of promise when a one length third to the very useful Nafaqa on his debut at Newbury, the son of Dubawi opened his account in good style at Newmarket.

Prince Gagarin went on to round off the campaign with a most impressive display in a 1m Listed contest at Pontefract, coming from off the pace to draw clear and readily beat Teofilio’s Princess by 2 1/4 lengths.

That run came on soft ground, and Prince Gagarin seemed to relish the testing conditions.

With the rain having hit Chester hard, today’s underfoot conditions will hold no fears for Prince Gagarin and he also looks the type that will appreciate the step up in trip to 1m 2f in this Listed contest.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien has won the last three runnings of the race, and Smuggler’s Cove is the red-hot jolly to maintain the Ballydoyle handlers’ stranglehold.

The colt looked an exciting prospect when winning a Listed contest at Dundalk by seven lengths, and went on to finish a solid third to Belardo in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on his final start last season.

Smuggler’s Cove was then off the track for 184 days before finishing sixth of 11 to Flight Risk in a Group 3 contest at the Curragh over 7f.

Although that trip was too sharp, the fact that the son of Fastnet Rock was sent off 12/1 suggests that he is no world beater and the form does not look strong.

It may well be that Smuggler’s Cove will come into his own now tackling middle distances, but for me he is plenty short enough and worth taking on.

Disegno represents trainer Sir Michael Stoute, and is a lightly-raced and progressive sort who looks a big player.

The colt has only had four starts and came good at the second time of asking when readily landing a 7f contest at Kempton.

Disegno backed that up with an improved effort to finish runner-up in a Listed contest at Ascot, and made a highly promising reappearance at Newmarket last month when staying on nicely to finish third in the 1m 1f Fielden Stakes.