Hat-trick seeking Abbey heads 12 in Investec Coronation Cup

St Nicholas Abbey is set to try and create history by becoming the first horse to win the Investec Coronation Cup three times.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained six-year-old heads the 12 entries remaining after the May 14 scratchings deadline, details of which are revealed today, in the 2013 renewal of the Group One contest, which takes place over a mile and a half at Epsom Downs Racecourse on Investec Derby Day, Saturday, June 1.

St Nicholas Abbey beat the high-class mare Midday by a length in 2011 and was imperious last year when he came home four and a half lengths in front of Red Cadeaux.

The Montjeu horse made the perfect start to 2013 in gaining his fifth Group One success on March 30 when beating Japanese star Gentildonna by two and a quarter lengths in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan. He is an even-money chance with Coral, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival, to gain a third Investec Coronation Cup victory.

O’Brien, who has won the Investec Coronation Cup six times in the last eight years, could also be represented by Chamonix, El Salvador, Ernest Hemingway and Imperial Monarch.

Group Two winner Dandino joined the Newmarket yard of Marco Botti at the start of this season and shaped encouragingly for his new handler when runner-up in the Group Two QIPCO Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket on May 4. The six-year-old is no stranger to Epsom Downs, having won a 10-furlong handicap on Investec Derby Day in 2010 and finished fourth in the 2011 Investec Coronation Cup.

Botti said: “We are considering the Investec Coronation Cup for Dandino. The owners have told me to leave him in the race and we will just monitor the ground because he is a fast ground horse.

“The long term plan is the Melbourne Cup and, although it would be good to win the Investec Coronation Cup, we have to be mindful of his handicap mark for Australia.

“If the race cut up and the ground is fine we might just have a look because the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, which is also an option, can be just a tough as a Group One now it has no penalties.”

Main Sequence beat all bar the impressive Camelot in the 2012 Investec Derby and may try to go one better over the course and distance. He was third on his reappearance at Ascot on May 11, in the Listed Buckhounds Stakes.

International interest is provided by 2011 Melbourne Cup victor Dunaden, trained in France by Mikel Delzangles and Very Nice Name, who has been left in by Qatari-based Alban de Mieulle and was last seen out when third behind St Nicholas Abbey at Meydan.

Chapter Seven (Stuart Williams), Joshua Tree (Ed Dunlop) and Sir Graham Wade (Mark Johnston) complete the possible line-up for the Investec Coronation Cup, which has a record £350,000 in prize money this year.

Latest betting from Coral: Evens St Nicholas Abbey, 4/1 Dunaden, 6/1 Imperial Monarch, 8/1 Joshua Tree, 10/1 Dandino, Main Sequence, Very Nice Name, 25/1 El Salvador, 33/1 Chamonix, Sir Graham Wade, 50/1 Ernest Hemingway, 66/1 Chapter Seven

Cowell hoping to show Italy’s got talent in ‘Dash’

 Crate out to realise Epsom dream with Taajub

There are 53 horses going forward after the latest scratchings deadline for the £100,000 Investec Specialist Bank ‘Dash’ run over the fastest five furlongs in the world at Epsom Downs on Investec Derby Day, Saturday, June 1.

Newmarket handler Robert Cowell has two contenders headed by Jiroft, who is likely to have his first start on these shores since moving from Italy. The six-year-old was a talented sprinter in his homeland and beat Pandar, who is also now under the care of Cowell, by two and a half lengths in a five-furlong Listed contest at San Siro last April. Cowell could also run recent Chester scorer Normal Equilibrium.

The trainer revealed: “Jiroft is a very likely runner in the Investec Specialist Bank ‘Dash’. Normal Equilibrium is a possible if he gets a run – he has an entry at Newmarket this week and we will just play it by ear.

“Jiroft has settled in well and he is a pretty smart horse. He has some good form in Italy and will relish the really fast five furlongs at Epsom. We think it is a race that will suit him well.

“He has a rating of 102 and I think that is fair based on his form and homework. I would say he is bordering on Listed class.

“I don’t know if he will ever experienced anything like Epsom before but he is very, very quick so the pace of the race won’t be a problem but I don’t know whether the track will be.”

Cowell has done well with Italian imports, most notably with Spirit Quartz, who was narrowly denied by star Australian mare Ortensia in the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at York in August.

Jiroft is a 25/1 chance for the Investec Specialist Bank ‘Dash’ with Coral, the official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival, while Normal Equilibrium is rated a 14/1 chance.

Taajub, trained locally by Peter Crate, was fourth in last year’s renewal and is set for another tilt at the valuable prize after finishing fifth at Newbury on April 19. Crate has also confirmed Sandfrankskipsgo but he may not get into the race.

Crate, who trains at Newdigate near Dorking, said: “Taajub has been in great form since his run at Newbury. I have been really pleased with him and he has been aimed at the Investec Specialist Bank ‘Dash’ for some months now.

“He went to Lingfield on the Polytrack in March but he is not as good on that surface as he is on grass. We went to Newbury hoping we will get the old Taajub back and he certainly showed a lot of pace for four furlongs and, although it sounds silly to say given how far he was beaten, we were very pleased with him.

“The Investec Specialist Bank ‘Dash’ is a fabulous race and I would love to be fortunate enough to win it but the only problem is the draw. You want to be drawn near the rail but last year he was drawn in three and still managed to place.

“He has put on an awful lot of muscle over the winter and he is much stronger this year. He is only small and that is why he suits Epsom.

“I wouldn’t be sending him to the ‘Dash’ unless I thought he had a good chance and if we can get the Taajub back from last year, he would be a live contender in my mind.

“Sandfrankskipsgo would run as well subject to him getting in, even if he is a couple of pounds wrong. He is not as well balanced as Taajub for Epsom and I will have to think about him a bit.”

Taajub and Sandfrankskipsgo are 25/1 and 33/1 respectively with Coral.

The last two winners of the Investec Specialist Bank ‘Dash’, Stone Of Folca (2012) and Captain Dunne (2011), share 12/1 favouritism along with the Dr Marwan Koukash-owned pair of Face The Problem and Masamah as well as Duke of Firenze and Smoothtalkinrascal.

Latest betting from Coral: 12/1 Captain Dunne, Duke Of Firenze, Face The Problem, Masamah, Smoothtalkinrascal, Stone Of Folca, 14/1 Ajjaadd, Humidor, Long Awaited, Normal Equilibrium, 16/1 Confessional, Dinkum Diamond, La Fortunata, Tarooq, Mister Manannan, 20/1 Ballesteros, Crew Cut, Fair Value, Swiss Cross, Last Sovereign, Top Cop, Strange Magic, 25/1 bar

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