Sam Turner hit a 33/1 winner and 14/1 place on Saturday.
Following a rather subdued start to the new campaign, the claims of CONTANGO (Best price 8-1) may not be glaringly obvious in the opener on the Knavesmire. However, the Casamento gelding only made his debut 12 months ago and has packed a good amount into a short career since so can be forgiven his reappearance at Epsom at a time where one or two of his stablemates were benefiting from their first runs of the season. The step back up to 12 furlongs should also be beneficial and the selection’s trainer has talked in glowing terms of Contango previously so there could be plenty more to come with fitness on his side today.
TERENTUM STAR (Best price 10-1) and FINAL VENTURE (10-1) are my two darts in what appears a typically ferocious handicap of its type. Admittedly, the former may appreciate a slightly easier surface than he is going to see on the Knavesmire this afternoon, but the benefit of a recent run at Ripon when not fully tuned up should not be underestimated and he did this column a favour over course and distance last October so he is not one to desert now.
Final Venture hails from a yard which is beginning to find its feet in recent days (winner yesterday ay Beverley) and he wasn’t disgraced on occasion during a winter spent in the Middle East. Rider Oisin Murphy will have to be alert to the six-year-old’s antics in the stalls if he wants to preserve his chance before the race even starts as Final Venture has often shown the frustrating habit of rearing or dwelling in the gates of late. Remarkably, he was alert and cleanly away in Dubai and Doha so hopefully that trait continues here as he boasts a huge chance if jumping cleanly.
Tasleet was my original selection for this Group 2 but his withdrawal really has opened the way for HARRY ANGEL (Best price 4-7) to begin what could prove another golden summer with victory. Clive Cox’s speedster took the three-year-old sprinting division by storm last season and, although he must concede a Group 1 penalty to his remaining rivals, the absence of last year’s winner who is a horse with an excellent record fresh and a love of the track is a huge bonus for connections. The chance of a mini shock rests with Brando and Sir Dancealot now and I wonder if the latter, who will be ridden to arrive late, could be the one for the forecast berth.
John Gosden has farmed this race in the last 10 years (five wins) and Highgarden is sure to improve for her comeback on easy ground at Sandown. However, Peter Chapple-Hyam has his strong in fine order this spring and there could be some mileage in supporting LUBINKA (Best price 6-1) even if the trip may prove a little on the short side this afternoon. The Mastercraftsman filly was third to the talented Soliloquy as a juvenile before finishing an honourable sixth in the Fillies’ Mile so may build on her smooth Lingfield comeback win where she beat a subsequent winner with ease.