BILL ESDAILE PREVIEWS THE INVESTEC-SPONSORED CARD AT EPSOM TODAY
TODAY’S opening Investec Asset Finance Handicap (2.10pm) at Epsom features a couple of well-handicapped sprinters and I’m struggling to split Long Awaited and SMOOTHTALKINRASCAL.
The former is a hugely talented horse but seems to always find a way of getting beaten. The fact his last win was way back in August 2012 is a testament to that.
His supporters will find solace in the fact that that victory was here off a 1lb higher mark than he lines up on today, but the seven-year-old can’t be relied upon as a solid win proposition.
The gelding will like the ground and has plenty of other form on this steep downhill track, but Smoothtalkinrascal gets the nod.
The son of Kodiac was only run out of landing the 2013 Dash here by an inspired ride from Ryan Moore on Duke Of Firenze. He was drawn worst of all that day too, before running creditably in better company afterwards.
He’s top weight but is 16lb below his highest mark. The five-year-old will need a strong pace, but he should get that and is worth chancing in a field where few make serious appeal.
The Investec Derby Trial (3.20pm) generally has had little bearing on the big one back here in June, but it has a couple of interesting longshots for the famous race this time around.
CHRISTOPHERMARLOWE was unbeaten in two starts last season, including a win here. That was a small field contest too and both his starts have suggested a step up in trip will suit.
The colt is a best-priced 33/1 with Betway for the Investec Derby and a striking win will see that price shorten, especially with no horse yet to convincingly lay down a marker for the Classic.
John Gosden’s yard has made a fast start to the new campaign and his charge might just be able to get the better of Godolphin’s Future Empire, even conceding 2lb.
Future Empire didn’t look entirely straightforward as a juvenile and was turned over as favourite on his last two starts. I don’t think he’ll want this to be a tactical affair but it could be exactly that.
The others have a lot to find. Carbon Dating’s trainer John Patrick Shanahan frequently tilts at windmills with his string and this one will have to show far more than his debut, when beaten 12 lengths at Cork.
Dance Of Fire broke his duck here last term and deserves respect representing Andrew Balding, who has landed this win-and-you’re-in prize twice in the last five years.
However, his best form is on a much easier surface.
Sharp Sailor’s pedigree gives mixed signals on whether the step up to 10 furlongs will benefit him and he doesn’t look particularly progressive anyway.
SMOOTHTALKINRASCAL 2.10pm Epsom
CHRISTOPHERMARLOWE 3.20pm Epsom