Epsom Dash preview: Irish raider Hathiq handicapped to strikePublished on: May 31, 2019Author: David Metcalf
Hathiq is a sprinter on a serious upward curved who looks ahead of his mark, so looks a worthy favourite at 5/1 with BetVictor to land the spoils in the 5f Epsom Dash on Derby day at the Surrey venue on Saturday (15:45).
This five-year-old has only had seven starts, winning three times and also running well to make the frame on three other occasions.
The former inmate of Newmarket handler Owen Burrows has taken his form to a new level since joining Irish trainer Denis Hogan, and comes into the race on the back of a brace of impressive successes.
After sluicing up by 3 1/2 lengths from Mokaled in a 13-runner contest at Tipperary, the son of Exceed And Excel made light of a 9lb hike in the weights when romping to a 3 3/4 lengths victory over Optionality at The Curragh.
Hathiq chased the leaders travelling strongly and, after being produced to take up the running two from home, showed an instant turn of foot to shoot clear and put the race to bed.
He made a total mockery of his handicap mark of 84 and it was a performance which firmly suggested he was a pattern race performer in the making.
Connections have wisely decided to turn him out quickly under a 4lb penalty and he is due to race off 95 in future assignments, so is 7lb well-in at the weights.
It makes Hathiq look a handicap blot and he has also bagged a good draw in stall 18, as high numbers have a big advantage over this flying five furlongs.
So, providing he handles the track, Hathiq is going to take all the beating in this and thus looks the one to be on.
Copper Knight holds solid claims
The Tim Easterby trained Copper Knight is right at the top of his game at present, and spearheads a whole host of potential dangers in a typically fierce renewal in which 20 are set to go to post
This five-year-old son of Sir Prancelot enjoyed a productive time in 2018 when winning three times.
The last of those successes coming off a mark of 97 at Nottingham when bursting through rivals at the furlong marker to get up in the final 75 yards and beat Teruntum Star by three-quarters of a length off a mark of 97.
Although now 7lb higher in the weights, Copper Knight has looked better than ever this season and is a speedy sort who looks the ideal type for this test.
After running very well to finish runner-up at Chester on his second start of the campaign, Copper Knight got back to winning ways when impressively landing competitive 20-runner affair at York by a length from Foolaad.
He backed that up with a cracking third of 19 to Duke Of Firenze at the same venue when getting headed close home and beaten 1 1/2 lengths off a mark of 105.
Copper Knight is able to race in this of 104, so looks weighted to go well from a handy pitch in stall 16. He hardly knows how to run a bad race, is clearly in rude health, and looks a solid each-way contender at 10/1 with Betfred.
Eeh Bah Gum another contender for Easterby
Yorkshire handler Easterby also saddles another very interesting contender in the shape of Eeh Bah Gum, who can be backed at 12/1 with Coral.
This four-year-old progressed throughout last season and enjoyed a terrific campaign when winning five times.
The last of those came at York he broke smartly and made all to win unchallenged by 1 1/2 length from Fool For You off a mark of 83.
Eeh Bah Gum has had just three starts this season and posted an improved effort on the second of those at York when a keeping on 1 3/4 lengths fourth of 21 to stable companion Copper Knight.
It was a run that suggested his time was near and he is able to race in this off an unchanged mark of 88, so now meets the winner on 4lb better terms.
Eeh Bah Gum also shaped far better than the bare result suggests last time out at York when a four-length eighth of 19 to Duke Of Firenze, as he wasn’t as smartly away as usual and denied a clear run when making headway a furlong from home.
His jockey that day accepted the situation and didn’t give him a hard time. Eeh Bah Gum looks the type that Easterby will do well with this season and one to keep onside in handicaps like this.
Other pluses are that he has a near 42 per cent strike rate over the trip and is 1-1 under Jamie Gormley, who takes off a handy 3lb with his claim.
Dark Shot has an each-way shout
Dark Shot isn’t the easiest horse to win with but does has proven form over course and distance, so is another worth considering each-way and can be backed at a best-price 12/1 with BetVictor.
This six-year-old is on a long losing run since September 2016 when in the care of Andrew Balding and landing a 12-runner contest at Ascot by half-a-length off a rating of 80.
However, he’s posted some solid efforts in defeat which include when a desperately unlucky fast finishing short-head second of 19 to Caspian Prince in the 2017 running of this contest off 87.
Dark Shot also ran well in last year’s renewal after joining Scott Dixon when a 3 1/4 lengths fifth of 20 to Tanasoq off a mark of 88, and backed that up with a fine fifth of 16 to Caspian Prince in the Scottish Sprint Cup at Musselburgh off 90.
The son of Acclamation is now able to race off 88 and that gives him major claims at the weights on the pick of his form.
Dark Shot also comes into the race on the back of three solid efforts, finishing a fine neck second over course and distance on seasonal reappearance and going down by the same margin last time out when chasing home Duke Of Firenze at York.
There is little doubt that he retains the ability to win a race of this nature judged on those displays, but he doesn’t always go through with his effort and will need to be produced to perfection by Paddy Mathers to get his head in front.
Being drawn in stall nine isn’t ideal, but this track clearly plays to his strengths and a bold bid looks on the cards.