While the Derby proved a major anti-climax with Young Rascal performing poorly being a spent force at the foot of Tattenham Corner, it was otherwise a very good day for followers of Ahead On The Flat.
Dash of Spice atoned for an unlucky defeat at Kempton with a most emphatic victory in the twelve furlongs handicap at Epsom. David Elsworth's four year old had run well on his reappearance in the City And Suburban Handicap over ten furlongs at the same track in late April when chasing home Ajman Bridge (won again since, plus Thundering Blue another subsequent winner from the race). Raised three pounds since finishing runner-up again at Kempton, he was quickly into stride under Silvestre De Sousa and dictated from the outset. Kicking for home on the final bend, the lightly raced son of Teofilo soon built up a healthy advantage which he never looked like relinquishing. Scoring by six lengths off a mark of 87, he is set for a substantial rise in the ratings but looks capable of defying it. The Duke of Edinburgh Handicap (0-105) at Royal Ascot (22nd June) would appear an obvious target, although he could wait for the Old Newton Cup at Haydock (7th July). He is a progressive horse.
The Handicap Snips section of AOTF also had a very productive day with Diocletian (33/1) and Sam Gold (Evens) winning at Doncaster. The former had been beaten on his reappearance at Brighton and was sent off the outsider of the field in the fourteen furlongs handicap for three year olds at Town Moor. Relishing the step up in trip and easy ground, Andrew Balding's charge made the most of his featherweight (four pounds out of the handicap) and turned the tables with Jeremiah who he finished behind at Newmarket last Autumn. Three and a quarter lengths separated the pair on this occasion. Sam Gold justified strong market support staying on strongly in the concluding one mile handicap. Roger Varian's three year old had proved a shade disappointing at Newmarket's Guineas meeting last month when only finishing third. Racing on a slower surface on this occasion, he won going away by two and a half lengths and may have booked his place in this month's Britannia Stakes at the Royal meeting. Overall, Handicap Snips has proved very profitable with Diocletian (33/1), First Eleven (8/1), Mashaheer (4/1), Sam Gold (Evens) and Victory Chime (6/1) all winning. The next runner in the section is the second horse down on page 113, who is declared to run at Windsor on Monday evening.
As far as the Epsom Derby is concerned, I must admit I didn't fancy either of the first two home, namely Masar and Dee Ex Bee. Having been keen on the chances of Young Rascal, it was galling to see Dee Ex Bee run so well in second. William Haggas' colt had beaten him fair and square in the Chester Vase last month and I couldn't see any reason why Mark Johnston's charge would turn the tables. Roaring Lion ran very well in third but looked a blatant non stayer - he remains one to bear in mind for the top ten furlongs races, while Saxon Warrior shouldn't be written off. Oisin Murphy did a fine job on Roaring Lion ensuring Ryan Moore was in a pocket when the race started to hot up. It wouldn't surprise me if Saxon Warrior drops back in trip next time because the Guineas showed he isn't short of speed.
As discussed, it was a terrific day for Ahead On The Flat with Dash of Spice (11/4), Diocletian (33/1), Dynamic (6/4), Falmouth Light (16/1), Sam Gold (Evens) and White Chocolate (6/5) all winning on Saturday.
I am currently working on the Royal Ascot Update, which will be emailed to clients on Sunday 17th June. If you haven't already ordered your copy, please head to the Publications section. The Update is £10.00.
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