Appleby: Caspian Prince should go close in bid for remarkable fourth Dash
Mick Appleby is expecting Caspian Prince to go very close in his attempt to win a fourth Epsom Dash for a fourth different trainer on Saturday – provided the rain stays away.
Caspian Prince has won the famous 5f handicap for Tony Carroll (2014), Dean Ivory (2016) and Tony Coyle (2017), and now it is Appleby, a man renowned for getting the best out of recruits from other yards, who is responsible for the sprinter with an unrivalled pedigree in the Investec-sponsored Dash.
Appleby said: "It's a remarkable record. He's in good order, so I'm expecting a decent run. I just hope they don't get all the rain forecast as he's better on quick ground."
It is little surprise Caspian Prince is at his most effective granted a sound surface, with his success at Epsom showing it is a case of the sharper the test, the better his chance.
Appleby added: "It's the fastest five furlongs in Britain and a real specialists course, which is why he does so well there as he's really a four-and-a-half-furlong horse. He seems to love it there.
"If the ground's right he should go very close."
The nine-year-old has raced only twice for Appleby, finishing sixth in a Musselburgh conditions race before filling the same spot in a Newbury handicap, and on neither occasion was the ground right. However, as a consequence of the below-par efforts, he can race off a mark 1lb lower than the one he defied to spring a 25-1 shock last year.
Caspian Prince usually blazes the trail and tends to win his game of 'catch me if you can' at Epsom, with just one defeat from five starts at the unique track. He may now be a veteran, but Appleby suggests his work on the gallops indicates the fire still burns brightly.
Caspian Prince's Epsom record
The trainer said: "He's going very well on the gallops. He probably just needed the last run and the ground wasn't right.
"He works on his own. If you tried to work him with other horses he could end up doing too much."
Caspian Prince is a general 10-1 shot in a market headed by Boom The Groom and last year's runner-up Dark Shot, who is also racing for a different trainer, having been purchased out of Andrew Balding's yard by Scott Dixon with this prize in mind.
Dixon said of the 9-1 joint-favourite: "The plan when I purchased him was always to get back to the Dash. I watched that race last year and thought he was unlucky in defeat."
Dark Shot lashed home from the rear to be denied by just a short head and further demonstrated his suitability to a fast five furlongs when runner-up at York on his first start for Dixon.
The trainer added: "He's in great form, he's improved for that first run and he went really nicely in his last piece of work. He goes there with a big chance."
Of last year's race, Dixon added: "The fact he went from basically last to almost first in the style he did shows the course obviously suits him. He needs a very strong pace and to be delivered late, so it's a tailormade race really."
One leading contender unlikely to run is A Momentofmadness, who had been vying for favouritism but now seems set to have a crack at the Group 2 Prix du Gros-Chene at Chantilly on Sunday.
Trainer Charlie Hills said: "There's not a big difference between those good sprint handicappers and Group horses, and he's off his highest-ever mark and improving. I think it's worth taking a chance."
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