TRAINER Mark Johnston has his string in terrific form at present and he has an excellent chance of landing the Investec Woodcote Stakes (2.00pm) for a third time in four years this afternoon.
The Middleham handler saddles MARIE’S DIAMOND in this afternoon’s opener and the son of Footstepsinthesand may just take some catching in the hands of Silvestre de Sousa.
Having shown that he handles soft conditions by winning on heavy ground at Leicester on his racecourse debut back in April, he ran a solid enough race when third at Newbury last time on fast ground.
He will have come on for that run again and the return to a softer surface should be in his favour too.
I expect him to use his experience to break sharply from the stalls and he may have some of his less experienced rivals in trouble from some way out.
The likes of Mendoza and True Belief look exciting prospects, but have both only been to the races once before.
At 3/1 with Coral, I expect Marie’s Diamond to make a bold bid from the front to keep up his trainer’s excellent record in the race.
A field of just nine runners have been declared for the Investec Click & Invest Mile Handicap (2.35pm) with the market currently headed by Donncha and Masham Star.
Donncha looks the obvious one as he has slipped to a very workable mark of just 91.
That looks very competitive when you consider that he ran well from a 10lb higher mark on a number of occasions last season.
He will surely go close but is pretty skinny for one that has never run at Epsom before and hasn’t won a race for nearly three years.
Masham Star is another extremely well-handicapped runner who could easily pop up in a race like this.
He won’t mind the recent rain, but the trip may take him beyond his comfort zone and he could be running on fumes late on.
The one I like is last year’s runner-up MYTHICAL MADNESS who returns 12 months on from a 3lb lower mark.
Another huge plus is the return to a soft surface and I expect him to go well at a best-priced 10/1 with James Doyle an eye-catching jockey booking.
The Investec Coronation Cup (3.10pm) doesn’t look that exciting from a betting point of view with Cracksman a best-priced 1/3 favourite.
John Gosden’s four-year-old finished third in the Investec Derby here 12 months ago but has gone from strength to strength since.
He ended last season with a seven length demolition job in the Group One Champion Stakes at Ascot and returned this season with a facile four length win in the Group One Prix Ganay.
It would be a major shock if he doesn’t walk away with this valuable prize this afternoon.
A couple of horses caught my eye in the closing handicap (5.50pm) in the shape of Shared Equity and GALLOWAY HILLS with preference for the latter.
De Sousa takes the ride on David Elsworth’s three-year-old and the pair are weighted to be competitive with just 8st 2lbs in the saddle.
Galloway Hills has run consistently well this season and his ability to handle Newmarket well on both recent starts gives hope that he will be okay around Epsom.
He may not want too much rain, but if it stays away he can go close.
Marie’s Diamond 2.00pm Epsom
Mythical Madness e/w 2.35pm Epsom
Galloway Hills e/w 5.50pm Epsom