EPSOM’s bumper crowd were rewarded with a magical performance by BLAINE when sticking around for the final race of the Investec Derby Festival 12 months ago.
Kieren Fallon was in the saddle as the cheers went up, bursting clear to win by 4 ½ lengths to get the better of Shared Equity and Perfect Pasture.
Blaine returns to the scene once again this afternoon and there’s every reason he can conjure up another victory on the Downs.
The seven-year-old was expected to need the run first time up at Newbury in May, but he cruised to victory under Frankie Dettori to land the spoils.
He’s going to be much shorter than the 25/1 available last time, but also ran really well last autumn when finishing second at Haydock.
The handicapper has unsurprisingly praised him for his Newbury success, however he’s effectively only 4lbs higher than last year with Joshua Bryan taking off a valuable 7lbs.
An extra 4lbs wouldn’t have been enough to stop him that day and I can’t resist backing again at 10/1 with Ladbrokes. Naggers has a seriously progressive profile, but connections will be hoping for plenty of rain.
He bolted up when favourite at Thirsk last time to land the spoils, which took his impressive record to four victories from his previous six runs.
There’s every chance he can improve again and go close, but he’s definitely better with a bit of give underfoot.
The biggest danger to Blaine’s chance could well be John Spearing’s CLEAR SPRING, who finished an eyecatching fourth behind him in the aforementioned Newbury race.
He was beaten just under five lengths that day but would have gone a whole lot closer on better ground, which he will hopefully get this afternoon.
The nine-year-old had a pipe-opener at Goodwood last weekend, but was dropped 3lbs by the handicapper for that, which I’m sure will have had connections rubbing their hands with glee.
He’s a course and distance winner and also won off a 7lb higher mark at Newbury 12 months ago, so he is definitely worth adding to the portfolio at 20/1 with Star Sports.
Ashpan Sam won this race back in 2015 but couldn’t get to grips with Blaine 12 months ago and was beaten with a furlong to go before finishing well down the field in eighth.
However, he showed he still had the hunger when going down by just a neck to Highland Acclaim here at the end of August and will be dangerous if he can recapture that same form.
CLEAR SPRING E/W