05/06/2008 12:00AM

Maraahel seeking four-peat


Maraahel will go after his fourth consecutive victory in the Group 3 Huxley Stakes at Chester on Thursday. A 7-year-old trained by Michael Stoute, Maraahel will once again have Richard Hills on board in the 1 1/4-mile, 75-yard contest worth $118,000 in which Stotsfeld, winner of Goodwood's Group 3 Select Stakes, poses the biggest challenge.

The first of two Epsom Derby preps at Chester's May meeting, the Chester Vase, shares the card with the Huxley. Aidan O'Brien will saddle two - Vivialdi and Wassily Kandinsky - in the 1 1 /2-mile, Group 3, $128,000 Chester Vase, both of them sons of Montjeu. Neither Vivialdi, a Gowran Park maiden winner, nor the 0-for-4 Wassily Kandinsky appears to have what's necessary to turn back the John Gosden-trained Pampas Cat, a Seeking the Gold colt who won a 1 1/4-mile Newmarket maiden by 5 lengths in his racecourse debut on April 16.

* The Melbourne Cup will have its purse increased by 10 percent for this year's running at Flemington Racecourse on Nov. 4. That brings the total prize of the Emirates Airline-sponsored Group 1 to approximately $5,206,854, making it the third richest race in the world after the Dubai World Cup, also sponsored by Emirates, and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, which is sponsored by Qatar.