Horse racing: Ballista in Wonderland here

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Ballista must have a big chance in the Winter Wonderland Queensferry Stakes at Chester.

The five-year-old sprinter has made breathless progress within the last year, having won a Catterick seller off a humble mark of 87 last May. Since then the gelded son of Majestic Missile has landed five good-looking races to soar into a three-figure rating.

Ballista has already won a Listed race, so is up to this task, but, more importantly, he clearly adores the peaks and troughs of Chester.

Tom Dascombe’s inmate struck by a length over five furlongs here in May, with decent horses like Masamah and Secret Asset never nearer.

That run also indicated that a step back up to six furlongs on a turning track like this would be just the ticket.

Dascombe is keener than most to secure Chester winners - such is his, and many of his owners’, proximity to the course - and there is every chance he will have Ballista fully wound up for this engagement.

This is possibly in contrast to a number of his rivals, who hold big entries in races like the Nunthorpe later this summer.

A favourable draw of stall two will stoke the fires of optimism at Manor House Stables.

Zaraee should be followed later on a fine card in the Breeders Backing Racing EBF Conditions Stakes.

Trained by William Haggas, this young Dubawi colt will not have to improve a great deal from two previous visits to the racecourse. Zaraee was a most impressive winner of a Haydock maiden on debut, after which he was sent off an even-money shot in a Doncaster novice stakes.

Although he was beaten a length and a half by Andhesontherun, that one is a likeable individual who was not beaten that far in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood earlier in the week.

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