Caspian Prince has to defy the welter burden of 10st if he is to win the Investec ‘Dash’ Handicap for a fourth time – all for different trainers – at Epsom on Saturday.
Mick Appleby is the handler with the task of emulating Tony Carroll (in 2014), Dean Ivory (2016) and Tony Coyle (2017), who supervised those three triumphs.
Caspian Prince was only 10th when representing the Rutland trainer last year – but he is expecting a better effort after the 10-year-old blew away the cobwebs in the Temple Stakes won by the brilliant Battaash at Haydock on his first start since the Nunthorpe in August.
“Caspian Prince has come out of his last run well and hopefully he has decent chance,” said Appleby.
“That was the plan, to get one run into him, but we had to go to Haydock as there was nothing else really for him.
“He seems to be in good order and he likes the track. He only just gets the five furlongs and because they are running down hill he is right at home there.
“Since we’ve had him he seems as good as ever and it would be some effort if he could win it again off top-weight.”
David Griffiths feels Duke Of Firenze is at the “top of his game” as his 10-year-old bids to win the Dash for a second time.
His confidence is at a high thanks to victories at Thirsk and York on the last two Saturdays, although it is six years since he won this cavalry charge over the flying five when in the care of Sir Michael Stoute.
Duke Of Firenze has run in this race four times since, the last three for Griffiths with placings of two thirds and a sixth.
“I was delighted with him at York. The Thirsk race gave him a lot of confidence and he did it well at York,” said the Bawtry handler.
“He’s very well handicapped and arguably back to his best. He’s got a nice draw (19) near the rail, but he comes from behind so he’ll need a bit of luck.
“He’s come out of York really well, better than he did from Thirsk.
“The ground will be perfect for him so I’d be hopeful of a real good run.
“The handicapper has given us a chance. He’s on the top of his game now and is in real good form.”
Griffiths is also optimistic of a good run from Ornate, despite being drawn wide in stall two.
“I think he’s handicapped to win off 99. He’s better than that,” he said.
“The draw could have been better. I’d rather have been nearer the middle with him than on the outside, but there is plenty of pace in the race and he’s quick.
“He’s in real good order. He was found wanting the Duke of York last time so we’re going the handicap route with him his year, but potentially he is a Group horse.”
Copper Knight and Eeh Bah Gum were third and eighth respectively behind Duke Of Firenze at York and the Tim Easterby-trained pair are in opposition again.
“Both are in good form and have every chance of running a big race,” said Easterby.
“The draw (14 and 15) is OK. You need a bit if luck – it’s a case of getting up there and then seeing what happens.”
Irish trainer Denis Hogan was relieved Hathiq made the cut after a convincing win at the Curragh last weekend and was even happier when he was handed a stands-side draw in stall 18.
“I’m delighted he’s got in. He needed five to come out earlier in the week, so it was nice to find out he’d made the cut,” said the County Tipperary handler.
“He’s in super form and they tell me the stands side is where you want to be, so he looks very well drawn in stall 18.
“When we bought him for £3,000 in January we didn’t dream he’d be favourite for the Dash at Epsom on Derby day. It just shows what you can do if you have a bit of luck,” said Hogan, who mixes training with riding over Flat and jumps.
“It’s great to be going over there with a horse with a real chance and I’m delighted to have Rory (Cleary) riding him.
“Myself and Rory go back a long way – we both went to Mick Halford’s as apprentices.”
Just The Lord tries to improve on his third in this race last year and has the added boost of winning over the course and distance in April.
“We resisted the temptation to run him in between and we have kept him fresh for the day,” said his trainer Michael Attwater.
“He had a couple of quick runs leading up to Epsom last time and we just about got away with it.
“He seems in great form and John Egan, who rode him last year, rides him this year as Luke Morris is injured. John knows the horse well and I think he can run a big race as he is bouncing.
“The draw (five) could have been kinder, but we were in one last year and are in five this year, so we are a little bit further up the hill. The track suits him as he really only just gets five furlongs.
“He had been placed on his previous runs here and he really deserved to win last time. I’d be happy if he runs well and if he gets in the top three, I would be delighted.”