Epsom stage their first meeting of the season today – did it not used to be on a Wednesday? – a six-race card to be run on ground described as a mix of good and good to firm. This was a meeting that was once shown on terrestrial TV, but it has lost much of its lustre in recent years.
In the listed Blue Riband Trial seven of the nine who go to post are last time out winners including Uncle Bryn (2.15) who came from the back of the field to win going away at Kempton back in September on debut, before making all at Wolverhampton when last seen in November. As a son of Sea The Stars the forecast ground should be ideal, and the colt is currently 20/1 for the Derby back here in June. The opening 2s with William Hill looked a shade too big and he is 6/5 with Boylesports at the time of posting.
The City & Suburban Handicap was a valuable and prestigious handicap in its day and ten go to post for this afternoon’s competitive renewal. I am sure there are races to be won with Sarvan off his current mark, but I just favour Alfred Boucher (2.50) who gets the each way vote for Henry Candy whose string are beginning to come to hand.
The each way recommendation – 8s with BetVictor – improved for the step up to 10f towards the end of last season and I hope to see him ridden more prominently than was the case at Nottingham last time when he stayed on strongly from the rear having been given far too much to do. The selection has run well in defeat first time out in the past and David Probert – who has been in the saddle for two of his three career wins – returns to the plate.
I thought Valyrian Steel (3.55) would make up into a top-class handicapper bordering on listed class when he got up close home to score at Newcastle when racing returned at the beginning of June. He failed to impress when landing the odds at Beverley on his next start and has not been seen since disappointing on soft ground at York back in October. I feel this step up to 12f will suit although I was surprised to see him drift in the betting from 9/4 to 3/1 on Monday morning. That drift was not for long, however, and he is into 2s with MansionBet at the time of posting.
At Yarmouth, El Conquistador will be all the rage as he seeks his hat-trick, but this is his turf debut, and he is 7lbs higher in the weights than when last successful at Lingfield last month. David Menuisier had a good winner at Newbury on Sunday, and I feel his Asiaaf (2.30) can land the 10f handicap on her first start for the yard.
The selection – 11/4 with 10Bet – won one of five starts for Marcus Tregoning last season although her trainer suggested after her Goodwood success that he would be chasing black type for her further down the line. With that in mind her current mark of 86 looks workable. She is reported to have only joined her new stable last week and her new handler has wasted little time in getting her on the track.
I was very impressed with the debut success of Royal Fleet (4.45) at Kempton over 7f back in November when he suggested he would be more at home over a mile this season. The runner up easily landed the odds at Redcar earlier in the month and the selection – 8/11 at BetVictor– is taken to maintain his unbeaten record despite having to give 7lbs to some well-bred newcomers.