2.35pm Epsom – Investec Wealth & Investment Stakes (Handicap) Class Two 1m 2f 18yds
Some seriously in form handicappers are set to go in to battle here and none more so than Ed Dunlop’s Dark Red (5/2) who has a three out of three record so far this season and will be looking to extend that run here under top jockey Ryan Moore. Unraced at two, the son of Dark Angel ended last season still a maiden after six races but did place in the first four every tie but looks to be a late maturing sort as another winter on his back has brought serious dividends for his patient owners. Stepping up to this trip on his reappearance he scored at Chelmsford to break his duck in a Class Four handicap off a mark of 75, and then headed here for a Class Two handicap (like today’s) where he beat Pacify by three quarters of a length despite swerving all over the track when challenged. That was off of 84 but he has won again since at Chester off of 90 if only by a neck (but with plenty in hand if needed), and it will be interesting to see how he gets on with another five pounds to carry which must surely be close to the limit of his abilities, making him shocking value here.
Sir Michael Stoute is very much on a revival mission this season after a few relatively barren years, and he will be hoping that Darshini (10/1 Each Way) can bounce back to his best for this afternoon. A gelded son of Derby winner Sir Percy, he was well backed and sent off the 6/4 favourite at Chelmsford when beating Emerald a length when staying on strongly but was well beaten at Chester next time out when badly hampered and eased by Ryan Moore, and with plenty of this field ahead of him at the line. He meets Dark Red on five pound better terms today, Felix De Vega eight pounds, Sennockian Star three pounds worse terms, What About Carlo (same terms), and Master Of Finance (one pound worse), which seems to make life pretty interesting but if you feel like we do that he would have finished a lot closer (or even won) with a clear run, then he has to be on any punters’ short list and at the odds he looks superb each way value today.
Looking outside of the for of that one race and Silvester Kirk will have been delighted by the return of Gold Prince (11/1) at Newmarket when the four-year-old ran a blinder to finish three-quarters of a length second to Interconnection. Sent off a 20/1 shot that day he looked and ran as if the race would do him the power of good, and if he has improved as we would expect, then a four pound rise in his handicap rating may not be enough to stop him, and he looks to have a superb chance despite the step up in class.
On the eleventh of October 2014, Pasaka Boy (16/1) ran the race of his life to saunter home in a competitive twelve runner handicap, beating Truth Or Dare by four and a half lengths in receipt of three pounds. Sadly, he then disappeared off the radar for whatever reasons and wasn’t seen again until last month when he stepped up in trip to a mile and a half and finished a well beaten ninth of ten to King Bolete, weakening two out which is no surprise in the circumstances. Back at his best trip, and off a mark just the three pounds higher than his Newmarket romp, if he can be brought back to his best he looks thrown in at the weights – but that is a big if.
Runner up in 2015, Fire Fighting (11/1) may have top weight to shoulder this afternoon but he ought to run a decent enough race regardless. If he was in good form he would be a pretty obvious selection but sadly for connections he isn’t, with no signs of a success in five races for 2016. He did finish runner up to the classy Grendisar on the all-weather at Lingfield in the Class Two Easter Classic which was undoubtedly the highlight so far, and can possibly be forgiven a last of seven to Time Test in the Group Three Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown last week, but he is yet to show too many signs of his old spark and is difficult to back today even if in theory he has a decent enough chance.
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