Race Time: 2.00pm Meeting: Epsom Distance: 1m 2f 18yds
Full Race Name: Investec Private Banking Stakes (Handicap) Class Two
With £50,000 in guaranteed prize money and the kudos of racing on Derby day it comes as no surprise to see a top quality line up set to do battle here headed by some of the more powerful Newmarket, Lambourn, and Yorkshire stables set to do battle. Improving three year olds can be pretty difficult to assess but Richard Hannon is said to be pretty keen on the chances of top weight Gibeon (22/1) who arrives her fit as a flea after four races already this season. We struggle to see why he has to give weight away to horses who may be his superior, though to be fair, his second place to Mutassayid at Newmarket was decent enough form and saw his rating rise. Unfortunately, he has only won his first race on soft ground at Newmarket and nothing in five races since and looks to be too high in the weights to us, though if Richard Hannon and Richard Hughes think otherwise we are willing and able to be proved wrong if necessary.
Those looking for the in form option won’t need to look much further than the Mark Johnston trained Resonant (4/1), the winner of his last two races at Newmarket and Goodwood, and potentially still ahead of the handicapper despite a weight rise of another nine pounds. His racing style leaves the others struggling form a long way out so it is possible that the weight will make no real difference to the result, and with the brilliant Silvestre De Sousa in the saddle he needs to be on everybody’s shortlist, not just ours. Taper Tantrum (14/1) also catches the eye with Newmarket handler Michael Bell seemingly willing to allow him to make his seasonal return vin this red hot contest – does he know something we don’t perhaps? A son of Azamour, he was runner up at Lingfield on his debut when beaten a nose by Buckleberry and followed that run with two wins at Sandown and Windsor, the latter when running on again over a mile and half a furlong to snatch back the lead at the death. On breeding he seems sure to be even better as a three year old and over this mile and a quarter trip, and there is every chance that he has got in here under the handicapper’s radar and is one to think about if his price is big enough to make him an each way option.
In valuable handicaps it can be financial folly to simply oppose anything trained by William Haggas and it looks as though he will be sending Tadqeeq (16/1) here with Paul Hanagan booked to ride. We marked him down as “of interest” as a juvenile as he is just the sort of slowly maturing sort his trainer does so well with, taking until his third race to get off the mark at Wolverhampton before being put away for the winter. Allowing for fitness issues he ran well to finish a length second at Musselburgh on his return but has failed to build on that since with a good but not exceptional second at Ripon and a fourth on softer ground at Haydock. They seem set to step him up in trip today and we don’t feel he has been harshly treated off a rating of 84 which may well be good enough to go to war with here. To round things off we are pleased to see Sir Michael Stoute having a better season in 2015 after a few lean years and his Stravagante (7/2) really does catch the eye here. An educational debut at Sandown was followed by a surprise win at Newcastle, but his return at Sandown this season in a Sandown handicap that makes interesting reading. He was beaten 12 lengths (which equates to 18lb) by Jack Hobbs (Derby second favourite) that day, and with the winner now rated 112 officially, that makes the three year old a 94 rated beast – yet he gets in here off of 89 AND has room to improve again for his first run of the season?