2. 35 INVESTEC WOODCOTE STAKES (LISTED) – 6 FURLONGS
Aleko only made it to the racecourse for the first time a little over a fortnight ago, but he could not have been any more impressive when running away with a decent looking maiden at Haydock.
He certainly knew his job from the outset and dominated his rivals by making all on that occasion. He will have learned plenty from that debut and at a track that often suits front runners, he could potentially prove lethal. He is proven to stay this trip and with the yard in red hot form, he could well give Mark Johnston a second winner of this race since 2011.
This step up in trip should prove ideal for Jeanies Place, who was impressive when winning at Thirsk. Having looked beaten at the half way point, the penny finally dropped with her and she cruised to a three length victory.
She looks the biggest danger to the selection should her rivals go off too fast early on and she may well pick up the pieces. Richard Hannon has won this race for the last two seasons and he relies on Nelspruit this time around. He struggled to stay this trip when beaten on debut at Newbury and made the most of a drop to the minimum distance to win at Goodwood. He looks far too short in the market and is passed over.
Adam Kirby has a decent strike rate around Epsom and he looks a significant jockey booking by Mark Johnston. Aleko is housed at a yard filled with juvenile talent and he has to be high on any shortlist.
3. 45 INVESTEC CORPORATE BANKING DASH (HANDICAP) – 5 FURLONGS
Monsieur Joe comes into this cavalry charge on the back of an impressive victory at York last weekend.
He is still well handicapped on the best of his old form which saw him land a group three race at Longchamp a few years ago. It is often said that sprinters must be followed whilst they are in a rich vein of form and has only been raised four pounds by the handicapper. At the time of writing this column he is a double figure price and that surely won’t last. Tom Queally keeps the ride on the eight year old and granted luck in running they can certainly finish in the frame.
Chiclet makes the short journey across the Irish Sea for Tracey Collins and Chris Hayes. The four year old filly has won her last three races with the minimum of fuss and she is model of consistency. This is by far her toughest race to date, but she fully deserves her place in the line-up and she could give the selection something to think about.
Monumental Man won over this course and distance last time out but now faces much tougher rivals. He could sneak a place if repeating that latest effort. Duke Of Firenze won this race a couple of seasons ago when trained by Sir Michael Stoute. He has been pretty much in the doldrums ever since and current connections will be hoping that a return to this track will see a long awaited return to form.
Monsieur Joe is a veteran of these large sprint handicaps and provided that this run does not come too soon, he should make another bold attempt.
4.30 INVESTEC DERBY (GROUP 1) – 1 M 4 F 10YDS
Giovanni Canaletto was only just touched off on his seasonal reappearance at The Curragh, but he was trying to give three pounds to a fast improving filly in Curvy.
She also had race fitness on her side and got that coveted first run which landed her the spoils on that occasion. Giovanni Canaletto is fully entitled to come on for that run and the step up in should prove ideal for this son of Galileo. Ryan Moore has chosen him ahead of the two other Ballydoyle raiders and having ridden two of the last five Derby winners that decision has to be respected.
Golden Horn comes into this race as a well-supported favourite having won the Dante at York by a pleasing margin. He saw off the re-opposing Jack Hobbs and is expected to confirm that form here. Frankie Dettori takes the reigns on the three year old and they look a very real threat.
Elm Park was a shade disappointing in the Dante where he was beaten six lengths by Golden Horn. He will have learned plenty from that first run of the year and is expected to finish much closer to him this time around. No horse has won from stall one since Oath in 1999, but Epicuris is trained by the genius that is Criquette Head-Maarek. He could run a huge race for the French based handler particularly if the rain arrives.
Ballydoyle and Aiden O’Brien have won this race for the past three years and it could prove significant that Giovanni Canaletto was well supported earlier in the week. He looks destined to improve on what we have seen so far and it would not be the greatest of shocks to see him go close here.
Epsom 2.35 Aleko
Epsom 3.45 Monsieur Joe
Epsom 4. 30 Giovanni Canaletto