Collaboration – 3.55 Epsom
Ask any modern-day racegoer to name a major Flat handicap and the likes of York’s Ebor, Newcastle’s Northumberland Plate, Royal Ascot’s Hunt Cup or the autumn double of Newmarket’s Cambridgeshire and Cesarewitch would be towards the top of the list, but go back to the first half of the 20th century and two races that would score highly are Epsom’s Great Metropolitan and City And Suburban Handicaps, contests which now barely register within the sport, particularly the former who boasts prize money of only £20k, a pittance compared to what was on offer in the race’s heyday.
The Investec-sponsored 1m 2f City And Suburban, at least offers a reasonable reward for the winner with £50k on offer, and Wednesday’s 3.55 contest can go the way of the Andrew Balding-trained bottom weight Collaboration, despite the mount of David Probert being 4lb out of the handicap on 8st 2lb. After opening his account in a Brighton maiden as a two-year-old the son of Halling got off the mark first time of asking the following season, winning a Wolverhampton handicap off top weight before splitting the high-class pair of Windshear and Elite Army 12 months ago.
That creditable effort earned the horse a rating of 82 and while unable to reproduce that effort during the rest of the season Collaboration landed something of a gamble when justifying odds of 15-8 at Windor just over a week ago, suggesting that the gelding has improved over the winter and at the 11-2 available with William Hill rates a good bet to see off his ten rivals before the handicapper takes his measure.
Top weight Fire Fighting has been in good form lately but faces a big task in trying to give 19lb to the selection and a bigger danger could come in the shape of the Luca Cumani-trained Mount Logan who looked a potential Group horse when winning at Doncaster last September, and the lightly-raced New Approach colt may have found the heavy ground encountered when unplaced in the November Handicap back over that course unsuitable, and if fit enough on his seasonal reappearance could prove a tough nut to crack in the hands of Adam Kirby.
1 Point each-way Collaboration 11-2 William Hill