3.45pm Epsom – Investec Mile (Handicap) Class Two 1m 114yds
With the Ed Dunlop team in red hot form of late with six winners from his last twenty-three runners it seems glaringly obvious that recent mile and a quarter Lingfield winner Dutch Uncle (6/1) will be well supported, but is he really a worthy favourite? Three places at Kempton (eleven furlongs), Windsor (twelve furlongs), and Windsor (ten furlongs) preceded that victory which gives rise to a major question mark over his suitability to a mile this afternoon. He did make all the running to win last time out and the same tactics seem likely to be persevered with today, but whether he has the kick to see off these specialist milers seems doubtful and at the prices there may well be better value to be found elsewhere.
George Scott trains Fieldsman (8/1 Each Way) who has to be a very serious candidate having won last time out on his first run for over seven months when he ran on strongly to see off Ghalib over seven furlongs at Newmarket off a rating of 87. Yes he has been put up four pounds for that win, but we suspect his improved fitness will cover that and then some, while this will only be his second attempt at a mile, which may also bring further improvement. Being by Hard Spun out of an Indian Charlie mare, the mile ought to be ideal, and although he did fail on his one try at Newmarket he pulled too hard that day and it may not have been a case of suspect stamina. More likely to settle here he can be produced at exactly the right moment by the brilliant James Doyle, who seems sure to play his cards fairly late to increase his chances, and at the price he seems very difficult to keep out of the frame.
Examiner (7/1) looks to be slowly reaching his peak judged on a second place to Knight Owl at Newmarket last tie out but again, he was running on strongly over nine furlongs that day and the drop back in trip may not be totally in his favour. All three of his career wins have been at this trip but they have also been on the all-weather tracks which has to be a concern, but he is in good heart and was only put up a couple of pounds for that effort and that must give him each way chances here.
Meanwhile, Richard Fahey has what looks like a serious challenger here in Spring Offensive (11/1) who has scored twice already this season over this mile, once on soft ground at Pontefract and more recently on much quicker going at Ripon. Naturally the handicapper has noticed and he has gone up a total of nine pounds, three of those for his last success, but as he handles any ground and doesn’t mind a good scrap to the line, he can’t be simply ruled out even off of his much higher mark.
To end with, Alcatraz (10/1) sits sweetly at the bottom of the weights yet has only had the seven starts at the age of four and has perhaps the most room for improvement. Formerly trained in Ireland by John Levins, he won his maiden over this one mile trip first time out at Chepstow for new handler George Baker before finishing third at Windsor after which he was put away for the winter. Returning to action at Windsor (again), they tried him over an extra couple of furlongs where he finished a once paced third, but the betting suggested he needed the run that day and he ought to strip a whole lot fitter here. Whether this is his best trip is open to question (he looked to be running on through beaten horses last time when taking third place), but he runs off the sae ark here and as a late bloomer he could yet have a hand in proceedings and at a decent price as well.
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