RACE 6 4.50pm
Investec Zebra Stakes
FAVOURITES have a terrible record in the Investec Zebra Stakes with just one obliging in the last 10 years. Today’s renewal looks as tricky as ever.
One trend in recent times is that the higher-rated runners are winning. The last three victors all carried at least 9st 5lb and top weights have won the last two.
That bodes well for my first selection MIRSAALE, who is at the top of the handicap, but looks to have leading chances.
On this day last year James Tate’s horse had a crack at the Derby itself, after winning the Derby Trial here, and wasn’t disgraced in finishing seventh at 50/1.
He’ll be nothing like that price today, but this is much more his level. He ran well in a Listed race at Goodwood last time out, setting a steady gallop but staying on again strongly once headed.
The son of 2006 Derby hero Sir Percy crucially has Epsom experience and Kieren Fallon in the saddle. No-one rides this unique course better than Fallon, and the Irishman has won three of the last 10 runnings of this contest – not a bad record when he’s only ridden in four of them.
The selection is 8lb below his highest mark and should be competitive with the yard in good form.
There are plenty of dangers. William Haggas’ Dare To Achieve, who stayed on strongly to win the Braveheart Stakes at Hamilton last time, is one.
He is owned in part by Investec’s Bernard Kantor and could easily bring up a double on the day for connections if Flippant obliges earlier.
He’s likely to be short enough, though, and a chance is taken on Brian Ellison’s SAPTAPADI. The eight-year-old threatened to be very good for Sir Michael Stoute in his early years and was running in Australian Group Ones in 2011.
Just one win in 32 starts is the obvious concern. Yet Ellison’s charge is now on a mark of just 87 – almost 20lb below his peak – and ran really well considering he had a troubled passage in a good handicap at York last month.
The winner that day Arab Spring could be Group class and Saptapadi was beaten under four lengths. The booking of Silvestre De Sousa, who has a 26% strike-rate for the trainer over the last five years, catches the eye and, granted luck in running, I can see him running a big race.
Blue Surf and 2013 Derby day winner Pasaka Boy are other chief threats. Stoute’s Stomachion can’t be ignored either, coming here after a fine win at Newmarket. But the two tips will be decent each-way prices and I’m happy to stick with them.