1pt win Maljaa @9/1, 0.5pt EW Mukaynis @14/1, 15:45 Epsom Downs, 'Dash'

The 5f Epsom ‘Dash’ is regarded as one of the fastest sprint contests in the racing calendar year, with a devilishly quick descent to contend with and 18 runners going to post this year.

The ground was definitely riding on the slow side yesterday, so I do not expect any track records to be broken today, and it will be important to side with those horses that can act on the softer surface.

In previous years, the high draw has generally had an advantage, however I think it would be remiss to rule out those drawn low, particularly given that Desert Law (non-runner) won racing out of stall 1 last year.

It must be said that the pace does appear to be down the stand’s side rail (high draw numbers) and there are a couple of interesting contenders on that side of the track.

Duke Of Firenze (drawn 20) is plenty short enough in the market off-the-back of his recent impressive success at York, and is officially 5lb well-in. He is versatile on the ground and has looked rejuvenated since switching yards, but I find it very hard to back this seven-year-old at 5/1 favourite with so many other pace-setters around him. He could run in to traffic problems on the rail, and so he must be taken on at the price.

The first-time blinkers looked to galvanise MUKAYNIS (drawn 18) on his final appearance of last season, when he cosily won a seventeen-runner handicap at Haydock (6f, gd-sft) under more prominent front-running tactics.

His two starts this season have seen him finish second on his seasonal reappearance where he got worn down close home over 6f on the AW at Kempton, and then he ran a close fifth to Kimberella and Roudee at Chester over 5f – both of which are prominent in the market.

He looked to be travelling best coming up the home straight at Chester, and would have gone very close had he not been denied a clear run just as he was about to launch his attack. He races off the same mark of 90 today – 2lbs off bottom-weight – and has a 7lb swing in his favour with Kimberella.

Kevin Ryan is a dab-hand with sprinters and he looks to have a decent chance of going close here with Mukaynis.

The other one I can’t let go unbacked is the fast-finishing MALJAA who likes to race off-the-pace. His tactics could work extremely well if the runners up the stand-side burn themselves out setting a strong early gallop. I fully expect Maljaa to be able to capitalise from a low stall draw, where he should have a clear run down-the-hill.

He is a horse worth following, proving himself to be ultra-consistent and progressive during 2015. Roger Varian’s yard is also on fire, and Maljaa’s opening performance of the season where he finished second behind Sir Maximilian in a minor contest, should have put him spot on for this. That is solid form with Sir Maximilian a regular runner in Group races.

He’s not got many miles on the clock for a four-year-old and has an outstanding record with four wins and six places in his ten starts; his yard will be expecting him to push on this year and is probably a pattern-company horse in the making. Maljaa has already proven himself to be competitive off his current mark of 107 and I can’t see why there isn’t scope for it to go higher.

I think he could be the class horse in the race, he also won’t mind the softer ground and Paul Hanagan is a big plus in the saddle. 9/1 odds are probably about right, but I think he should be going off closer to favouritism for this.

Kimberella, Harry Hurricane and Hay Chewed are others that look capable of going close in these conditions and you could do worse than backing them for each-way punters.

1pt win Maljaa @9/1, 15:45 Epsom Downs
0.5pt EW Mukaynis @14/1, 15:45 Epsom Downs

(1/4 odds pay four place, 12-1 available with Skybet and Betfair paying five places)

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