THERE have been a few upsets over the years in the Group 3 Investec Diomed Stakes with just one winning favourite in the past decade. It’s a difficult race for punters to weigh up as they have to decide whether to side with improving handicappers, or those dropping back in class from Group 1 or 2 level.
The obvious place to start is with the immensely talented Rio De La Plata, who is one of Frankie Dettori’s favourite racehorses in training. The Godolphin-owned six-year-old won the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere as a juvenile and finished fourth to New Approach in that season’s Dewhurst Stakes. There’s no doubt that he’s a top class animal on his day, but he’s had plenty of injury problems in the past, has been off the track since November and has a 7lb penalty to shoulder.
Mark Johnston’s Awzaan has become rather frustrating since his unbeaten two-year-old season which culminated in a classy win in the Group 1 Middle Park. He hasn’t won a race since then and is easily passed over until showing signs that he retains some of his old ability.
The one that really stands out is the Chris Wall-trained PREMIO LOCO who won the Group 2 Summer Mile at Ascot last July and put in a gallant performance to finish third to Canford Cliffs in the Group 1 Lockinge last time. He was fourth behind Skysurfers at Meydan in the Godolphin Mile and even though he’s never run at Epsom, I like the fact that he’s won at Goodwood which is another testing undulating track. A record of 11 wins from 25 career starts is not to be sniffed at, especially seeing as the majority of his recent runs have been in Group 1 or 2 company.
Looking at the others and hardly any of them make much appeal at all. That said, Godolphin’s supposed second string Vesuve shouldn’t be ignored, especially with promising young French pilot Mickael Barzalona in the saddle. However, his form so far isn’t up to this level and there’s every chance he will need the run.
Marco Botti hasn’t made the quickest start to the season and Fanunalter is another who may just need a couple of runs before he’s ready to strike. He put up a couple of decent performances in Dubai over the winter, but his form is some way behind that of Premio Loco and Rio De La Plata.
St Moritz has done incredibly well so far this campaign and he is definitely one to consider. David Nicholls hasn’t been banging in the winners with his customary force, but this fellow has won three strong races already since moving from Mark Johnston’s yard over the winter. He was a progressive handicapper last term, finishing third in the Royal Hunt Cup and winning the Bunbury Cup, and he should make his presence felt in this grade.
It would be absolutely wonderful to see the old boy Mac Love win this for a second time after his gutsy success in 2009. He’s the only one in the field to have won at Epsom, but he’s a 10-year-old now and his performances at Meydan over the winter don’t inspire confidence.
The final contender is John Gosden’s Nationalism who was well-fancied for last year’s Cambridgeshire before being handed a horrible draw and never really holding a chance. He should prove to be a decent animal but this looks a step too far at this stage of his career.