sport

Prince seeks Dash rule

Tony Carroll can barely contain his excitement ahead of Caspian Prince's bid for glory in the Investec Specialist Bank "Dash" at Epsom.

The progressive Dylan Thomas gelding has a record of three wins from 10 starts for his Worcestershire-based handler and he believes the rapid five-year-old is a worthy favourite over the fastest five furlongs in the world.

Carroll said: "Saturday is a big day for us given we're such a small yard and we're really looking forward to it.

"He ticks a lot of boxes as he's one from one at Epsom and he'll handle the ground better than most.

"He won on good to soft at Deauville before coming to me and it was soft when he won nicely there three starts back."

Caspian Prince is relatively lightly raced for his age and Carroll is delighted with his progression since he made his debut for the stable at Wolverhampton in December.

He added: "His form is going in the right direction as he continues on an upward curve and he's in great nick at home.

"Adam (Kirby) is a top jockey and I'm delighted to have him back in the saddle.

"He remains well treated and I'm hopeful he'll land one of these pots at some point this year."

In scoring over the Dash course and distance in April, Caspian Prince got the better of Peter Crate's Elusivity but the local trainer is confident his charge can reverse the form.

Crate, who also saddles Taajub in the race, said: "I'm quietly confident that he'll turn the tables with Caspian Prince as my horse is 7lb better off at the weights for two and a quarter lengths and won't be inconvenienced by his draw in stall six.

"He's a hold up horse and will be sharper than when the pair last met.

"There appears to be plenty of pace drawn on the stands side rail, so he can tuck in from a wide draw and pounce late."

The son of Elusive City is due to go up 2lb for his latest York performance so is technically well-in at the weights off a mark of 88.

Crate went on: "The ground will be fine for him and I'm happy with where he's at.

"I can't emphasise enough, though, that Taajub shouldn't be overlooked.

"He won't run if Epsom gets any more rain so I'll have a close eye on that, but he's a big player on good ground and is bouncing at home as well.

"I'm hopeful but just delighted to be involved in such a great event. It's my local track and the Dash is my favourite race."

Last year's renewal saw an almighty performance from Smoothtalkinrascal, who finished a neck second to Duke Of Firenze from the widest of draws in stall one.

David O'Meara's charge was also shouldering a 4lb penalty on that occasion and warrants the utmost respect bidding to go one place better this time around.

Chris Richardson, managing director at Cheveley Park Stud, said: "He loves Epsom so we're hopeful, but he may need further than five furlongs at this stage of his career and Saturday's race will tell us more.

"He ran arguably his finest race there 12 months ago so we're hoping he can put his Haydock effort in the Temple Stakes behind him."

Lee Carter, trainer of the appealingly-handicapped Barnet Fair, is fairly downbeat about the prospect of good to soft ground or worse, but admits he is well-balanced individual and will take his chance providing there is no further rain.

Carter said: "He's in fantastic form and I've had this race in mind all year.

"We've been handed a terrible draw in stall two but you have to just accept these things and hope for the best.

"The jockey will have to earn his riding fee and we'll hope the gaps appear, but he won' t run if we have any more rain."

Andrew Balding's Swan Song is another contender that boasts a 100 per cent record at Epsom as she exploited a 9lb lower mark in a handicap over course and distance last August.

The in-form Balding admits he was disappointed with her effort in Listed company at Haydock last weekend but she is another to keep onside reverting to the handicap ranks.

Balding said: "She's drawn well. She was a bit disappointing at Haydock so we have left her alone and tried to freshen her up and she's a course winner."

Swan Song was the last foal out of the late Lochsong, a top-class sprinter of her generation who recently died at the age of 26.