Continued my bad habit of getting them in the wrong order yesterday, again relegating the winner to third choice. I was also wrong in the number of handicaps today, as it was again three, not that I’ve had time to look at them all with such big fields to consider. So here’s hoping I get my picks in better order today!
Epsom 15.45 Cl 2 Hcap 616 (107) 5f gd/sf – 20 Run
Last year – 616 (109) gd – 19 ran
Caspian Prince 25/1 8-9-8 (107) Dr 1 by 0.05l from Dark Shot 10/1 4-8-2 (87) Dr 10
Duke Of Firenze 9/1 8-9-8 (107) Dr 12 was 0.07l 3rd
Edward Lewis 14/1 4-8-12 (100) Dr 11 was 0.87l 5th
Boom The Groom 8/1 6-9-5 (104) Dr 18 was 1.37l 6th
Desert Law 8/1 9-8-9 (94) Dr 9 was 1.47l 7th
Caspian Prince 9-9-9 (106) Dr 2
Three times a previous winner of the race (each for a different trainer), overcoming stall 1 last year in getting home from Dark Shot off a 1lb higher mark; although officially 2lbs better off, will in fact re-oppose off 3lbs worse terms; added a Gr 2 at the Curragh to his tally last June when still with Tony Coyle, but has added a further 2 trainers in his much travelled career and runs here for the Appleby yard; last year showed you can never count him out no matter where he’s drawn with his only poor run here coming in the 2015 renewal.
Plus: class (W); going (W); distance (W); course (W); trainer (14d);
Minus: 43-day break;
Verdict: (42) won 3 of the last 4 renewals, so impossible to ignore off a lower mark than last year and a contender.
Edward Lewis 5-9-1 (98) Dr 4
26 May Cl 2 Hcap (311 u) 5f gd York (107) 17/2 1.85l 5/19 off 97
Raced towards stands' side, close up, ridden along and every chance over 1f out, driven entering final furlong, kept on same pace last 150yds
Wasn’t beaten far when 5th in last year’s renewal and runs off a 2lbs lower mark today; bettered that when runner-up to Desert Law (-6) at York in August and meets him on 3lbs better terms today; has had 3 starts this term the last pair being creditable rather than sensational at York, having Duke Of Firenze (+10) some way behind him lto.
Plus: class (F); going (W); distance (W); course (F); trainer (C); form run lto (7 days);
Minus: up 1lb;
Verdict: (40) still 2lbs above last winning mark and looks as if handicapper may have him about right, so perhaps not the strongest contender from a low draw.
Blue De Vega 5-8-13 (96) Dr 14
19 May Cl 2 Hcap (129 d) 5f gd/fm Thir (101) 100/30 0.25l 2/6 off 96
Chased leaders, pushed along 2f out, ridden to challenge inside final furlong, kept on
Group winner as a 2yo in Ireland but while he finished 3rd in the Irish 2000 Guineas drew a blank at 3yo; moved to Cowell’s yard last October where he has had his sights lowered to contest handicaps over sprint distances’ mark has already come down 9lbs but yet to win for his new connections, although went close at Thirsk lto; ground shouldn’t be a problem, but both his wins came over 7f as a 2yo, so wonder if he has the pace to take on top 5f sprinters at Epsom.
Plus: class (W); distance (F); trainer (14d); form run lto (14 days);
Minus: going (?); course (?); yet to win a sprint;
Verdict: (38) interesting contender but not sure he’s a true sprinter and thus he’s a contender with questions.
Duke Of Firenze 9-9-10 (107) Dr 10
The 2013 winner off 97 when with Sir Michael Stoute and 3rd in the past 2 renewals behind Caspian Prince off 95 and 107, respectively; never in a position to challenge in either of his starts this year, but they merely stepping-stones to today and being a Pivotal gelding would look to have conditions in his favour.
Plus: class (W); going (F); distance (W); course (W); recent outing (7);
Minus: no form run this season;
Verdict: (37) past winner who usually runs well here and a contender off a positive draw
Dark Shot 5-8-5 (88) Dr 19
17 May Cl 2 Hcap (187 d) 5f gd York (101) 28/1 0.25l 2/18 off 88
Raced towards far side, prominent, close up 2f out, ridden over 1f out, driven inside final furlong, took narrow lead inside final 75yds, headed and no extra near finish
Runner-up off 1lb lower mark in last year’s renewal when with Andrew Balding, but moved to Scott Dixon’s care in early May and made a fine debut for both season and yard when only just going down at York with Edward Lewis (+15) just over 2l further back in 5th; should surely come on for that and well enough handicapped on last year’s effort too.
Plus: class (F); going (F); distance (W); course (F); trainer (C); form run lto (16 days);
Verdict: (37) not hard to see why he’s fancied and a contender.
Boom The Groom 7-8-10 (93) Dr 9
25 Apr Cl 3 Hcap (156 u) 5f gd Epsom (97) 7/1 0.2l 4/13 off 93
Held up in rear, shaken up 1f out, good headway between horses inside final furlong, finished strongly, never nearer
Almost 2 years since his last win but caught the eye here in April in a tight finish with the front quartet led by Bahamian Sunrise (-14) over 1l clear of Harry Hurricane (-1) and Desert Law (+4) and the rest; interesting that De Sousa who rode BS that day should opt for BTG today; however, BTG was beaten less than 1.5l in last year’s renewal off an 11lbs higher mark, plus a drying track is in his favour.
Plus: class (W); distance (W); course (F); trainer (C); form run lto;
Minus: going; 38-day break; up in class;
Verdict: (35) on a long dry run, but April run positive and a well handicapped contender.
A race for proven sprinters, often in this very race, and rarely does the race go to a horse that hasn’t previously won at least 2 of the 15 previous handicaps they’ve run in. This year we have the winners of every renewal back to 2013, although Caspian Prince, of course, counts for 3 of the last 4, along with Desert Law in 2015 and Duke Of Firenze in 2013. Of this trio, only Desert Law doesn’t make my shortlist this year. One not on the list that might be considered is Bahamian Sunrise in a first-time visor today, but who has to bounce from a disappointing effort lto.
Looking at those that did make the list, Blue De Vega is the first to go not being a true sprinter. I also doubt the chances of Edward Lewis despite being off 2lbs lower than last year, as the handicapper seems to have him where he wants him, plus he’s got a low draw. Also with a low draw is Caspian Prince, but then he won from stall 1 last year! However, he can’t keep on wining it every year, can he (?), plus he is a 9yo and while Indian Trail won at that age back in 2009, the winners have historically been a little younger. The age qualification also applies to Duke Of Firenze, but he seems to have the better of the draw. Two that have neither age nor draw against them are Dark Shot and Boom The Groom. However, they are at the front of the market in a race where favourites have a poor record. In addition, Dark Shot has only had the one start this year, whereas last year he’d had two when finishing runner-up. Thus all things considered I’m inclined to go for Boom The Groom who is far better handicapped this year and hinted at a return to form here in April. So my final four in such a major sprint are Boom The Groom from Duke Of Firenze with Dark Shot and Caspian Prince battling it out for the minor placings, and Bahamian Sunrise as my best outsider.
Epsom 17.15 Cl 2 Hcap 311 (104) 12f gd/sf – 19 Run
Last year – 249 (100) gd 10 ran
Soldier In Action 12/1 4-9-6 (99) Dr 9 by 2l from Eddystone Rock 15/2 5-9-4 (97) Dr 12
Barwick 12/1 9-8-10 (89) Dr 3 was 3.9l 7th
Star Of The East 4-8-10 (93) Dr 10
26 May Cl 3 Hcap (134) 13.5f gd Chest (89) 4/1 Jt F 0.1l 1/12 off 89
Prominent, 2nd and challenging over 2f out, ridden to lead over 1f out, edged right when pressed well inside final furlong, held on well
In good form of late with a pair of Chester wins bookending a runner-up effort at Hamilton; another career best in winning over 13.5f at Chester last weekend and although raised 4lbs for that and moving up in class can’t be ignored from last year’s winning stable.
Plus: class (W); going (F); distance (W); course (W); trainer (14d); trainer (C); form run lto (7 days); career best lto;
Minus: up 4lbs; up in class; drop back in trip;
Verdict: (53) in fine form and with no stamina problems looks a strong contender.
Golden Wolf 4-8-4 (87) Dr 2
25 Apr Cl 3 Hcap (156 u) 12f gd Epsom (96) 8/1 2.75l 2/13 off 84
Raced in mid-division on inner and took keen hold at times, progress and shaken up 2f out, squeezed through rivals soon after and every chance, not pace of winner and slightly awkward head carriage, kept on well inside final furlong
Has produced career bests in his last 2 starts, both over C&D here, being runner-up on hv in October and occupying the same spot in the Grand Metropolitan on gd in April; has been raised 3lbs for his latest effort and goes up in class, but no reason why he should show further improvement on only his 10th start overall.
Plus: going (W); distance (F); course (F); trainer (14d); trainer (C); form run lto (38 days); career best lto;
Minus: class (?); up 3lbs; up in class;
Verdict: (43) promising start to the season and could be more to come, a contender.
Across The Stars 5-9-3 (100) Dr 18
26 May Cl 3 Hcap (97 d) 12f gd York (97) 5/1 F 0.25l 2/11 off 97
Tracked leading pair, close up 3f out, led 2f out, ridden just over 1f out, driven well inside final furlong, headed and no extra near finish
Gr 2 winner at Royal Ascot as a 3yo when with Sir Michael Stoute but has had more downs than ups since despite being gelded; nevertheless, promising effort at York last weekend and something to build on perhaps.
Plus: class (W+); going (W); distance (W); trainer (14d); trainer (C); form run lto (7 days);
Minus: course; up 3lbs; up in class;
Verdict: (39) needs to build an last weekend’s effort, but a potential contender.
Reshoun 4-8-11 (94) Dr 14
06 May Cl 2 Hcap (311 u) 12f gd Nwmk (100) 12/1 4.5l 6/15 off 94
Held up in touch in midfield, effort and headway over 2f out, 4th and no impression 1f out, kept on same pace and lost 2 places inside final furlong
French import who improved all season as a 3yo winning his final race over 12f on gd/sf at Doncaster in October; made a fair enough return at Newmarket last month when just 0.25l behind Eddystone Rock (+6), although meets him on 1lb worse terms today; scope for further improvement..
Plus: class (W); going (W); distance (W); trainer (14d); form run lto (27 days);
Minus: course (?);
Verdict: (37) looks an improving sort and a potential contender
Dash Of Spice 4-8-4 (87) Dr 9
23 May Cl 3 Hcap (93 d) 11f AW Kemp (97) 11/8 F 1.25l 2/13 off 84
Held up in rear-division, bumped on first bend, raced keenly in snatches after, switched to outer well over 2f out and plenty to do, ran on well inside final furlong
Runner-up to Ajman King (0) in a 10f mdn here last October and having shed his mdn tag at Lingfield in December, took runner-up spot to Ajman King (+10) on his return in the City & Suburban in April; didn’t get the best of runs at Kempton lto, so looking to bounce back on his return to a course where he has twice run well; trip to prove, but was staying on both times over 10f.
Plus: class (F); course (F); trainer (C); form run lto (10 days); career best lto;
Minus: going (?); distance (?); up 3lbs; up in class;
Verdict: (29) should have won at Kempton lto. but a possible contender.
While last year’s first two again contest the action it’s harder to see either actually taking the spoils, although on current running you’d have to say that Eddystone Rock may have the better chance. Nevertheless, I’m leaving both out of my calculations as there are so many promising younger horses to consider. Looking at my shortlist, I’m not sure I can trust Across The Stars to build on his York run last week for he has so often flattered to deceive. So sorry, Ryan, but I’ve got to pass on your choice. My other quartet leaves me with the usual problem of trying to get the right ones in the right order. As I’m rushing to complete this let me go with Star Of The East from Dash Of Spice with Golden Wolf and Reshoun fighting it over the minor placings.
Sorry, no time to even glance at the final sprint!
Any comments on today's racing. Please don't just put in selections ... please add some reason why you think a runner will win
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