PART of the criticism of Flat racing is that horses are packed off to the breeding sheds too early in their careers, meaning that the public don’t build up a real affinity with them.
It is a fair argument, although certainly not in tomorrow’s Investec Diomed Stakes (3.10pm).
Of the eight runners we’ve got one seven-year-old, an eight-year-old and two nine-year-olds.
Funnily enough, this has been a good race for the older generation with four winners aged eight in the past decade.
I’m hoping that trend will continue as I think grand old servant GABRIAL has a great chance of landing his first win in nearly two years.
Richard Fahey’s nine-year-old has been an absolute superstar for connections and went down by just a neck to Sovereign Debt in this contest 12 months ago.
He has been incredibly unlucky not to win a Group race in his career, but trips around a mile on soft ground are his speciality and he looks cracking each-way value at 12/1 with Star Sports.
Finishing a respectable fourth in two competitive mile handicaps earlier this season, he was then third to stablemate Forest Ranger in the Huxley Stakes at Chester last month over a trip that stretches his stamina.
Last year’s jockey Frankie Dettori is back in the saddle and they must have a very good chance of finishing in the first three again.
Century Dream is on the upgrade, but this is another step up the ladder, whereas Gabrial is proven at this level.
It’s a shame that it has rained so much over the past week because the Investec Dash (3.45pm) won’t be quite as rapid as it normally is.
However, the winner will still cross the line in less than 60 seconds and I’m hoping that will be last year’s runner-up DARK SHOT.
If you haven’t seen the race, I’d advise that you watch the replay because it really was an extraordinary performance.
Stone last with two furlongs to go, he produced an electrifying turn of foot to almost nail Caspian Prince right on the line.
He was trained by Andrew Balding then, but has since moved to Scott Dixon for whom he was an excellent second on his reappearance behind El Astronaute at York last month.
The son of Acclamation is a pound higher than 12 months ago, although Jamie Gormley’s 5lb claim means he will technically carry 4lbs less.
His draw in stall 19 couldn’t be better, while he goes on any ground so there really is nothing not to like and any 7/1 should be snapped up.
The aforementioned Caspian Prince is going for his fourth win in this race, remarkably for a fourth different trainer.
He was successful from stall one last year, so stall two this time isn’t as bad as it would be for a less speedy horse, but the ground surely isn’t ideal for him.
My final bet on Derby day is DASH OF SPICE in the Investec Out Of The Ordinary Handicap (5.15pm).
This is a wide open contest, but David Elsworth’s inmate has put up two excellent performances at Epsom, finishing second on both occasions to Ajman King who I’m expecting to go very close this afternoon.
Both of those runs were over 1m2f, but the extra two furlongs here should suit and Silvestre de Sousa is the perfect pilot.
Gabrial e/w 3.10pm Epsom
Dark Shot 3.45pm Epsom
Dash Of Spice e/w 5.15pm Epsom