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The Epsom Handicap: Your guide to the big race

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Expert
2nd October, 2019
9

A big field in a major Group 1 race in Sydney? Stop the press.

Yes, that’s right, the Epsom Handicap has 20 acceptors on Saturday, which should make for the best race of the day.

On Wednesday, I went through each horse in the race and studied the form. I must say, the bookies aren’t far off the mark, but I still think there’s some decent value in the race.

I would go as far as saying that half of the field has no chance of winning.

So, fresh off tipping a 100/1 winner on Sunday, I’m putting my neck on the line again.

Below are my thoughts on each horse in the Epsom. Later in the week, I’ll post my thoughts on five other races from Randwick and Flemington.

Good luck if you’re having a punt.

1. Dreamforce (20)
7YO gelding
Trainer: John Thompson
Jockey: Nash Rawiller 57kg
Record: 27:11-6-4
Prizemoney: $1,540,835
Odds: $7

He’s a really nice horse and he would have been a chance with a better barrier, but I can’t see him winning from the outside gate.

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Nash Rawiller is going to have to send him forward in this race and there’ll be too much pressure up front for Dreamforce to hold on. Could still feature in the exotics, but something will be too strong in the final 100m.

2. Best of Days (6)
6YO gelding
Trainer: James Cummings
Jockey: Tommy Berry 55kg
Record: 19:5-2-4
Prizemoney: $986,323
Odds: $17

Not a bad horse, but doesn’t appear to have a lot of class, which means he’s poorly weighted in this race, which has some better horses carrying less weight. A top stable and a gun jockey work in his favour, but I don’t like his chances of winning.

3. Fifty Stars (7)
5YO entire
Trainers: David and Ben Hayes, Tom Dabernig
Jockey: Tim Clark 54.5kg
Record: 16:8-2-0
Prizemoney: $564,050
Odds: $31

It would have to pour with rain for a couple of days for me to consider him a chance. Some drizzle predicted on Saturday won’t be enough.

Terravista ridden by Hugh Bowman

We love Randwick. (AAP Image/David Moir)

4. Te Akau Shark (16)
5YO gelding
Trainer: Jamie Richards
Jockey: James McDonald 54.5kg
Record: 8:5-2-0
Prizemoney: $278,685
Odds: $7.50

Shark versus Shark

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks captain Paul Gallen with Te Akau Shark (AAP Image/Race Images South)

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I thought his first-up run in Australia was full of merit and he’s going to feel like a new horse on Saturday when James McDonald jumps on at 54.5kg. He’s carried some big weights in New Zealand to win and I think there’s enough pace in this race for him to be running over the top of them. Watch for him late.

5. Gem Song (5)
4YO entire
Trainer: Kris Lees
Jockey: Brenton Avdulla 52kg
Record: 13:5-2-3
Prizemoney $494,295
Odds: $11

Has been good in two runs from a spell and looks ready to fire in this race. Should get a very nice run just off the pace from barrier five and I think Brenton Avdulla can have him in the finish. He’s not the classiest horse going around, but this isn’t the classiest race and it looks winnable for the Lees stable.

Gem Song

Blake Shinn rides Gem Song (AAP Image/Albert Perez)

6. Unforgotten (3)
5YO mare
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Jay Ford 51kg
Record: 20:6-2-3
Prizemoney: $1,563,895
Odds: $26
She just doesn’t appear to be going well enough to be considered a chance here. At her best she’d be some hope, but not at the moment.

7. Mr Marathon Man (10)
6YO gelding
Trainer: Michael Moroney
Jockey: Dean Holland 51kg
Record: 22:5-2-0
Prizemoney: $270,403
Odds: $67

I like Mike Moroney and rate him as a horseman, but he’s out of his depth here. Mr Marathon Man should be back home trying to win a midweek at Sandown.

8. Mantastic (11)
6YO gelding
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Andrew Atkins 51kg
Record: 17-5-4-3
Prizemoney: $359,927
Odds: $51

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Does his best work in winter against lower grade horses. Chris Waller a good trainer, but not even he can get Mantastic to win this Epsom.

9. Kolding (13)
4YO gelding
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Glen Boss 50.5kg
Record: 13:6-1-3
Prizemoney: $451,000
Odds: $6

It took connections a while to work him out, but since then he’s been almost flawless. In his last six appearances at the track, he’s won six times. He couldn’t sprint with Dreamforce when first-up, but no horse except Te Akau Shark made any ground that day.

Second-up he hit the line strongly to earn a crack at his first Group 1 race. Has to be a good chance on form.

Jockey James McDonald rides Kolding

Jockey James McDonald rides Kolding (AAP Image/Albert Perez)

10. Rock (12)
4YO gelding
Trainers: Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes
Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy 50.5kg
Record: 8:4-3-0
Prizemoney: $226,140
Odds: $6

This is a big step up in class, but Team Hawkes and Kerrin McEvoy with a talented young horse are all the ingredients to get you excited about a promising dish. Rock has been to the races for four wins and three placings.

His only failure was on a bog track. His win at Newcastle last start was all class and he has to be a winning chance here.

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11. Archedemus (4)
6YO gelding
Trainer: Gwenda Markwell
Jockey: Dom Tourneur 50.5kg
Record: 13:7-1-0
Prizemoney: $396,080
Odds: $67

This lightly raced horse is talented, but I don’t think he’s got the class to win the Epsom. Expect him to race up on the pace from barrier four. If it’s a leader-biased track, he’s a place chance.

12. Le Juge (19)
7YO gelding
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Jess Taylor 50.5kg
Record: 36:9-2-6
Prizemoney: $466,624
Odds: $101
Bookies have his price right. About as much hope as me riding in this year’s Melbourne Cup.

13. El Dorado Dreaming (1)
4YO mare
Trainer: Kris Lees
Jockey: Rachel King 50kg
Record: 13-1-2-6
Prizemoney: $992,655
Odds: $31

You’d love to own her because she’s won nearly $1 million without actually winning taces. Her only win came 18 months ago in the Group 1 Sires Produce for 2YOs. Since then she’s been solid without being spectacular. Can’t see her breaking the drought on Saturday.

14. Star of the Seas (14)
5YO gelding
Trainer: Chrs Waller
Jockey: Michael Dee 50kg
Record: 14:6-4-2
Prizemoney: $365,100
Odds: $16
I think if an unknown trainer had him, he’d be a much bigger price. Would need some luck to finish in the placings.

15. Cascadian (2)
5YO gelding
Trainer: James Cummings
Jockey: Robbie Dolan 50kg
Record: 8:3-2-0
Prizemoney: $247,350
Odds: $9.50

Hard to line him up based on the fact he’s only had one run in Australia. His overseas form in Europe was pretty good and he’s drawn a good gate, so you’d have to consider him a decent chance providing he presents well in the mounting yard on Saturday.

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16. Nettoyer (15)
6YO mare
Trainer: Wendy Roche
Jockey: Ben Thompson 50kg
Record: 23:3-1-6
Prizemoney: $395,450
Odds: $26

A nice mare but this looks a big challenge. Would need a few things to go right to see her in the winners’ circle on Saturday afternoon.

17. Kaonic (8)
5YO gelding
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Andrew Gibbons 50kg
Record: 18:5-1-1
Prizemoney: $339,775
Odds: $51

Wasn’t disgraced when fourth at Newcastle last time and is probably the best roughie in the race if you’re looking for some value in trifectas and first fours. Seems to have come back in better shape this preparation.

18. The Candy Man (18)
6YO gelding
Trainer: Barry Baldwin
Jockey: Brock Ryan 50kg
Record: 14:7-2-1
Prizemoney: $231,600
Odds: $91

Hat’s off to Barry Baldwin for having a crack, but I think he’s going to travel back to Brisbane empty handed on Sunday morning.

19. Desert Lord (9)
5YO gelding
Trainers: Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes
Jockey: James Innes Jnr 50kg
Record: 12:4-2-3
Prizemoney: $169,530
Odds: $31

Should be peaking for this race and will appreciate being on firmer ground. Hasn’t shown enough to suggest this is a winning hope for him, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run a big race at odds.

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20. Junipal (17)
4YO entire
Trainers: Ciaron Maher and David Eustace
Jockey: Damien Thornton 50kg
Record: 15:3-4-3
Prizemoney: $257,995
Odds: $21

He’s not a bad horse, but I think this is just too hard. The form around his wins isn’t as strong as you’d like for a Group 1 hopeful.

Epsom summary: It’s a big field, but I think there are only a handful of winning hopes. In racebook order they are Te Akau Shark, Gem Song, Kolding, Rock and Cascadian.

The best roughies are Kaonic and Desert Lord.

Personally I think the New Zealand raider Te Akau Shark is excellent value considering I think he’s the most talented in the race and things just didn’t pan out for him first-up. There should be a bit more pressure in this race on Saturday.

Suggested bet: Te Akau Shark each-way.

Trifecta: Box 4, 5, 9, 10, 15, 17, 19 – $42 will get you 20 per cent of the dividend