It’s a bumper weekend of action as the third and fourth classics of the season take centre stage. Away from the Oaks on Friday I think it is a decent card at Epsom and the 2.35 is a much tighter race that the market suggests. Irish Admiral is absorbing a lot of the market attention but at 8/1 I think MOSTAWAA is the horse to side with. Heather Main’s horse has been in great form this season without getting his head in front and his run at York last time was really strong. He’s a likely pace angle here and as we know, Epsom can suit those front running horses if their jockey gets the fractions right. Hopefully Martin Dwyer can do just that.
You have to respect David Barron’s handicappers, especially when he has a top jock booked and it looks like ON A SESSION is one to keep onside. This Irish import made a fine start to his career in Britain as a second placed finish at Wolves was followed by a very good fourth in an ultra competitive Thirsk Hunt Cup. Perhaps turned out a shade too quick after that, he disappointed at Ascot but has been freshened up since. He certainly looks to be on a good mark and I love the booking of Buick.
SCOTTISH SUMMIT always seems to find himself in a competitive handicap but he keeps running so well he does make me think he is actually improving. I can’t leave him un-tipped this evening at Doncaster as conditions are definitely in his favour. Firm ground is of no problem to him and the trip should be fine too. At around 10/1 it looks as though the bookies have little belief in him, hopefully he can prove them wrong.
Epsom 2.35 – Mostawaa
Epsom 5.40 – On A Session
Doncaster 7.23 – Scottish Summit
The four horses I fancy away from the big race of the day are all under 4/1 so I’m advising a yankee which could pay well if we get a few in.
The first horse up is IDILICO who seems to be in fine form at present and a shade unlucky to have bumped into a couple of improvers recently. Ian Williams is a master with these dual purpose horses and seems to have got this horse down a mark where you feel he could rack up 3 or 4 on the bounce once he wins one. I did a stable tour at Williams’ a few seasons back just as this horse was imported into his yard and at the time he had high hopes for him, especially on the flat. A repeat of his run last time out will see him go close here.
I say it every year but I’ll say it again. Mark Johnston is a master with these three year old middle distance handicappers and I’ve got two today who shouldn’t be ignored. First up is KING FRANKEL who was a tip in this column last time out in what looked like a strong London Gold Cup. The winner looked like a Group 1 horse to me so this lad did very well to finish second and he lines up in a handicap at Epsom tomorrow with only an extra 6lb on his back. A mark of 88 is certainly workable and I expect him to win this before going close at Ascot.
Similar comments apply to KONDO ISAMI who toughed it out at York last time out. At the time it looked like the front three who pulled clear were all very well handicapped and the second placed horse went some way to proving that last Friday when routing a decent field at Haydock. I expected this horse to head straight to Ascot after that but Johnston clearly exploring his options is keen to step him up in trip before. He has three runners in the field but I do think this is the most exciting one and if he does stay, I can see no reason why he wouldn’t, then he will take all the beating.
It’s hard to ignore MAXIMAL given all the weight he receives at Epsom today. Sir Michael Stoute’s three year old has some decent form in the book but I think the drop to a mile might just be the making of this horse. It appears to me that he has been outstayed the last twice by strong staying three year olds but both times he has travelled like the likely winner. Ryan Moore slims down to do the weight and I think that might be a clue in itself so do take note.
In the big race itself I find it hard to ignore recent Dante winner, HURRICANE LANE, who looks like the safest bet to me at 9/1. The Newbury win caught my eye as I rated the second and third but I stupidly let him go unbacked in the Dante. I’m not making the same mistake again as I think this strong stayer could go very close. Some people are making him out to be a boat but you don’t beat horses over 1m 2f like he has unless you have some tactical speed so dismiss him at your peril.
One horse at a huge price who could run into a place is GEAR UP. You won’t find many Group 1 winning two year olds at 50/1 for the Derby but that is exactly the case with Mark Johnston’s horse. As a two year old he just stank of a classy middle distance three year old so I was very impressed with how well he did last year given he was always going to be better this year. Connections were slightly disappointed in Dante but 3f out he looked the winner so maybe he tired but he seemed to gallop through the line well and that bodes well for this extra 2f here. I’ve certainly seen worse 50/1 shots, put it that way!
Doncaster 1.20 – Idilico
Epsom 2.00 – King Frankel
Doncaster 3.05 – Kondo Isami
Epsom 3.10 Maximal
Hurricane Lane & Gear Up