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Epsom Handicap preview

Grand Final weekend - when we mix and match footy finals with feature racedays. Sydney has the racing Saturday and league final on Sunday, while Melbourne focuses on the MCG today and Flemington tomorrow. The racing focus centres on Randwick and the metric mile for the time-honoured Epsom Handicap. A handy field assembled, not a big one, but a very competitive one with 5/1 the field available if you search hard enough.

Stepping in to the preview this captivating race is Calum Law from the @EIBloodstock team.

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TAB Epsom Handicap
Group 1, AU$1 million
Randwick, 1600m
1600 AEST, 0700 BST


Palentino - Two-time Group One winner in Melbourne over a mile, taking the Australian Guineas in March and comfortably beating stablemate Black Heart Bart in the Makybe Diva last time out at Caulfield. Those performances mark him down as a stallion of the highest order, deserving of top weight in this field. Trained by a master, although not (yet) so much when visiting Sydney, and should be capable of giving a bold sight.

Hauraki - Consistent son of Reset for the Godolphin team who has made his reputation mainly by finishing behind the great mare Winx. His run in the Colgate had plenty of merit and despite being flattered by his proximity to the winner, he still spaced the rest of the field on that occasion. Likely to run his usual solid race whilst finding a few too good in his quest for a maiden Group One.

Le Romain - Surprise winner of the Randwick Guineas over this course and distance and has been largely running with credit since for Newcastle trainer Kris Lees. Hard to fully dismiss a horse ridden by Bowman that has finished off the board only once in eleven starts, but he will need to run beyond himself to run into the places here off 55.5kgs.

Happy Clapper - Son of Teofilo who is capable of top class form as was evident in back-to-back placed efforts in the Doncaster and the QE2 a week apart at Randwick in April. This is a prime target third-up and his trainer Pat Webster has been very bullish in the build up to the race. Well drawn and a definite place contender for all he might not be quite good enough to take top spot.

Mighty Lucky - Seven-year-old roughie who appeals as an unlikely hero in this spot. Yet to win above Group Three level and has to leave his previous form a long way behind to take the honours.

Dibayani - Well-travelled son of Shamardal who took on Able Friend and Designs On Rome in his four-year-old campaign in Hong Kong. Should be ready to peak in this spot and although an infrequent winner with a strike rate of 2/23 (last win 1212 days ago) he appeals as being overs in the market under the excellent Damian Lane.

Sons Of John - Had a couple of these behind him when taking a Group Three handicap over 1400 metres last time. That was his first win since his Hawkesbury Cup victory nine races previous and he doesn't appeal as a likely winner in this company.

Mackintosh - Ex-Kiwi galloper who has an impressive strike rate of six wins from nine starts in his fledgling career to date. Was impressive in the Theo Marks a fortnight ago and could easily take a step forward from that display which would put him right in amongst it here. Hard to rule out anything Waller sends for this assignment and he rates as one to include.

McCreery - Ex-Roger Charlton Gelding who sold for the bargain price of £200k at the Tattersalls Horses In Training sale last year. Arrives here bidding for a hat trick having dismissed them last time in the Kingston Town. This has likely been the target since arriving in Australia and his trainer has farmed this contest of late. Gets a cracking racing weight of 51.5kgs and with the services of the excellent Kerrin McEvoy on board this unexposed son of Big Bad Bob ticks plenty of boxes.

Heavens Above - Five-year-old daughter of Street Cry who ran a career-best over this course and distance when finding only Azkadellia too good in the Coolmore Legacy. She has since won over 1200 in the Sheraco but didn't really step forward from that when well fancied in the Golden Pendant last time. Only carries 51kgs but still looks an unlikely winner.

Vanbrugh - Son of Encosta De Lago who took the G1 Spring Champion Stakes here over 2000 metres as a three-year-old. He remains winless since although there was a bit more promise in his run behind Winx in the Colgate last time when giving way by less than five lengths in fourth. However he will still need to step up from that if he is to contend here.

Torgersen - The roughest of Waller's four on paper having never won in stakes company and despite carrying the light weight of 50kgs this son of Pins looks up against it.

Fabrizio - Lightly-raced son of High Chaparral who bids to give Gai Waterhouse a record-breaking eighth Epsom win. Arrives in this spot with plenty of buzz and it is easy to see why, getting in off the minimum with the excellent Johan Victoire in the saddle. The way he dismissed some over-matched rivals a fortnight back over this course and distance was impressive and should tee him up perfectly for a big run here carrying 50kgs. Plenty to like regards his chances and could well be the horse that gives Gai Epsom win number eight.

Verdict - Super renewal of the famous handicap, in which two unexposed lightly-weighted types make the most appeal. Chris Waller has dominated this race of late and his English import McCreery can provide the master trainer with a fourth Epsom on the bounce here. Fabrizio takes a hike up in class but carries plenty of confidence and with only 50kgs on his back he rates as the main danger. Plenty of class in the rest of the field but Dibayani appeals as being under rated by the market and is good enough to run a place if putting his best foot forward

1 McCreery
2 Fabrizio
3 Dibayani

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