Sovereign Debt among strong supporting cast at this week’s 2017 Investec Derby Festival

The 2017 Investec Derby Festival is almost here with the two-day spectacular getting underway at Epsom Downs on Friday, June 2, Investec Ladies’ Day, followed by Investec Derby Day on Saturday, June 3.
In addition to the three G1 highlights – Britain’s premier Classic and richest race, the £1.625 million Investec Derby, plus the £500,000 Investec Oaks and the £420,000 Investec Coronation Cup, which are both staged on the first day this year – there is high-class supporting action across the two days.
Popular eight-year-old Sovereign Debt is lined up for the £70,000 Group Three Investec Diomed Stakes (3.10pm, 11 entries) on Investec Derby Day.
Sovereign Debt was a luckless fourth in the extended mile contest in 2016 for his previous trainer, and goes into this year’s race on a career-high rating of 114 following a half-length success over Gabrial (Richard Fahey) in the G2 bet365 Mile at Sandown Park on April 28.
That was the grey’s second victory in three starts since joining trainer Ruth Carr from David Nicholls earlier this year, having got the better of Nimr by a neck in the valuable All-Weather Championships Mile Final at Lingfield Park on April 14.
James Sullivan was in the saddle for both victories, with trainer and jockey enjoying their biggest successes.
Carr, based at Stillington in Yorkshire, said today: “Sovereign Debt came out of Sandown really well.
“We just wanted to give him a little freshen up because he had three quick runs. He seems in really good order.
“He ran well in this race last year and was unlucky not to be closer. Hopefully, he gets the luck in running this time.
“The five pound penalty makes it tough but he got it for winning a G2 and it was nice to tick that box. You just wonder about some of the younger, up and coming horses in the race.
“We will see how gets on in his next few runs with a penalty. I am leaning towards keeping him away from the superstar milers because he is an older horse and it would be nice to keep his confidence high.
“But it might be that we are forced to go down the G1 road at some point.”
The Investec Diomed Stakes entries also include the Richard Hannon-trained trio of Listed Doncaster Mile victor Kool KompanySteel Of Madrid, who was a good winner of the G3 Earl Of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket in April, and Lincoln Handicap runner-up Oh This Is Us.
Godolphin and Charlie Appleby, successful with French Navy in 2014, are responsible for G1 Jebel Hatta runner-up Folkswood, while Andrew Balding could bid for a third victory in six years with recent York scorer Here Comes When.
Other eye-catching names are multiple Group race winner Custom Cut (David O’Meara), who has been placed in the Investec Diomed Stakes for the last two years, and Doncaster Spring Mile winner Ballet Concerto (Sir Michael Stoute).
The fillies and mares go in the £70,000 G3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes (Sponsored By Investec) over the same course and distance at 2.35pm on Investec Derby Day. Among the 13 entries are Godolphin’s impressive Goodwood Listed scorer Laugh Aloud (John Gosden) and recent Irish G2 winner Creggs Pipes (Andrew Slattery).
Also taking place on Investec Derby Day is the £100,000 Investec Corporate Banking ‘Dash’ Handicap (3.45pm, 30 confirmations) staged over the fastest five furlongs in the world.
Heading the market at 8/1 with Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival, are Duke Of Firenze (David Griffiths, 9st 8lb), winner of the race in 2013 and El Astronaute (John Quinn, 8st 9lb), successful on his latest two outings at Newmarket and Chester.
The remarkable Caspian Prince (Tony Coyle, 9st 8lb, 12/1) could also bid to become the first horse to win the contest three times, having previously taken the spoils in 2014 and 2016, while 2015 scorer Desert Law (Paul Midgley, 8st 9lb, 12/1) is also engaged. A maximum of 20 horses can line up in the Investec Corporate Banking ‘Dash’ Handicap.
Investec Corporate Banking ‘Dash’, Unibet odds: 8/1 Duke of Firenze, El Astronaute; 10/1 Edward Lewis, Kimberella ; 12/1 Caspian Prince, Desert Law; 14/1 Evergate, Line of Reason, Majestic Hero, Rasheeq ; 16/1 A Momentofmadness, Boom The Groom, Bowson Fred, Dark Shot, Excessable, Queen In Waiting, Rich And Famous, Sir Maximilian; 20/1 bar, a quarter the odds a place, 1, 2, 3 & 4.
Friday’s action, besides the Investec Oaks (4.30pm) and Investec Coronation Cup (3.10pm), includes the £50,000 Investec Wealth & Investment Handicap (3.45pm, 18 entries) over 10 furlongs.
Among the likely starters are Brorocco (Andrew Balding), who landed the Investec City & Suburban Handicap over the course and distance at the Investec Spring Meeting on April 26, and the lightly-raced Fidaawy (Sir Michael Stoute), an eye-catching winner at Doncaster last time out.
Investec Wealth & Investment Handicap, Unibet odds: 4/1 Fidaawy;   5/1 Brorocco; 8/1 Abareeq, Banditry; 9/1 Zzoro; 10/1 What About Carlo, Innocent Touch, Grapevine, Imshivalla; 12/1 Top Beak, Storm King, Not So Sleepy, Speed Company, Examiner, Great Hall; 14/1 Final, Lustrous Light; 16/1 Sennockian Star, 20/1 bar, a quarter the odds a place 1, 2 & 3.
Investec Ladies’ Day also has four £40,000 contests, beginning with the opening Investec Woodcote Stakes (2.00pm, 14 entries) over six furlongs for two-year-olds, with Unibet making easy Ripon winner De Bruyne Horse (Richard Hannon) the 5/2 favourite.
The Listed Investec Savings Surrey Stakes (5.15pm, 12 entries) could feature Taamol(Sir Michael Stoute), successful in the Listed King Charles II Stakes at Newmarket last time out.
The going at Epsom Downs is now Good, Good to Soft in places (from Good to Soft). There was 15 millimetres of rain at Epsom Downs from 4.00pm Sunday to 2.00am on Monday.
Andrew Cooper, Head of Racing and Clerk of the Course at Epsom Downs Racecourse, reported today at lunchtime: “We look to be dry for the next couple of days.
“Today is set to be a cloudy, overcast day with temperatures of around 20 degrees. There might be a spot of rain later on from a very weak passing shower but it should not be anything appreciable.
“Wednesday and Thursday look as they will be a little bit warmer and sunnier. That takes us into Friday, which should also be warm but with a threat of rain in the evening coming from the west.
“We will see how that develops, but at this stage it doesn’t look particularly significant, even if it materialises and gets to us.
“What I would anticipate is a drying process over the next 48 to 60 hours which will take us into the Investec Derby Festival.
“I think we will certainly dry towards Good ground over the next 24 hours.”
The latest GoingStick reading taken at 2.30pm today is 7.1 (Home Straight – Far side 6.7; Stand side 7.3).
The Investec Derby, the Investec Oaks and Investec Coronation Cup are all part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
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