ORCHESTRA narrowly held off Romsdal to give Aidan O’Brien another winner in the MBNA Chester Vase.
The Ballydoyle inmate appeared set to convincingly claim the Group Three over an extended mile and a half as he breezed into the lead two furlongs out, getting the perfect gap on the rail. But the 3-1 favourite suddenly found himself in a slightly compromising position as the John Gosden-trained Romsdal arrived late and fast under William Buick.
It took a photo-finish to separate the protagonists, with the Ryan Moore-ridden Orchestra taking top honours by a nose.
Scotland stayed on for third, another eight lengths in arrears.
Moore said: “It was a perfect trip but I was on the best horse. I was trying to be nice to him. He’s a lovely horse. He travelled around beautifully.”
O’Brien was winning his fifth Chester Vase in the past eight years, including 12 months ago with subsequent Investec Derby hero Ruler Of The World.
Today, Hillstar’s class should come to the fore in what appears to be a tricky renewal of the Group Three Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes at Chester.
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute has always been a huge admirer of the four-year-old colt, but he can admittedly turn in the odd curious display, such as when he was well beaten in Dubai in March.
That said, his clinical Royal Ascot victory last summer, in which he coolly outfoxed Battle Of Marengo by a length in the King Edward VII Stakes, should be succinct enough evidence to make a case for the defence.
Hillstar is from a good staying family, so should readily take this further ascent in trip to a mile and five furlongs, while he is equally adept on fast ground as he is on soft.