ORNATE DASHES TO SUCCESS
David Griffiths recorded his first victory in the £100,000 Investec 'Dash' as Ornate (33/1) captured the world's fastest five-furlong event under Phil Dennis.
The six-year-old Bahamian Bounty gelding came across from the outside stall two to soon take the lead and held on gamely in the closing stages to score by a neck.
The Scott Dixon-trained Dark Shot (14/1) was second, with Robert Cowell's Blue De Vega (25/1) a neck behind in third. Eeh Bah Gum (9/1), trained by Tim Easterby, was a further head back in fourth.
South Yorkshire-based Griffths who also ran Duke Of Firenze, who finished seventh said: "I'm delighted.
"We probably fancied Duke Of Firenze a bit more as he was drawn on the stands' side rail (stall 19) which is usually the place you need to be.
"Ornate was drawn completely the other side (stall 2), but I thought he was seriously well handicapped off a mark of 99.
"He has so much speed, but I didn't expect him to be tanking along at that speed as it is the quickest five furlongs here. To travel like that at Epsom was very impressive. I'm chuffed to bits and just over the moon to win this race again.
"Ornate was wrong last year, but we've got him back since and it's just been about taking little steps with him.
"We ran him in the Duke Of York last time out and that was a fact finding mission. I think in time he will be a Group horse, but he was was ninth in that race, so we decided to go back handicapping and put him in the Dash.
"Group races will probably be more for him next year. The ability is definitely there and he is seriously quick.
"He had good form over six furlongs when trained by Robert Cowell, but I think if we try to campaign him over six that might make him slow. There are more opportunities over six furlongs, but if you campaign him over that trip, you will take away his natural speed.
"It only takes less than 60 seconds, so it's OK - you only have to worry for about a minute, which I am happy with!"
The winning time was a fast 54.00s, just outside the 53.69s course record.
Jockey Phil Dennis enjoys unforgettable first Epsom ride
Phil Dennis had to pinch himself after making nearly all to win the £100,000 Investec 'Dash' Handicap on David Griffiths' ultra speedy Ornate, just seven days after another career highlight on stable-mate Duke Of Firenze in another valuable handicap at York. It was his first ride at Epsom Downs.
Ornate had to overcome stall 2 in a field of 19, but was soon in command and was always holding on from Dark Shot and Blue De Vega. Duke Of Firenze, a former winner of the race when trained by Sir Michael Stoute whom Griffiths considered much better drawn in stall 19, close to the stands rail, finished well but was only seventh.
Dennis, 22, said: "That was a lot of fun. To be fair he's such a straightforward horse. He is literally 'jump and go' - that's his style. He's in top gear the whole way but he just keeps going. He goes a relentless gallop the whole way.
"I thought the draw might ruin our chance, but he took a length out of them out of the stalls, and although he wasn't quite quick enough to lead Caspian Prince in the early stages the further he goes the more he gallops them into the ground. I never felt like his tank was emptying and that was a good performance."
He added: "It was my first ride here and that's some feeling. I don't think it's quite sunk in yet, but he's been some horse for me. It's my first year without a claim, so I needed something like that. Last week on Duke Of Firenze was my highlight at the time, but this has just blown it out of the water."
TRAINER DIXON EXPECTING FIRST CHILD, DARK SHOT SECOND IN THE 'DASH'
Paul Dixon, the former CEO of the Horsemen's Group and father of trainer Scott Dixon, was representing his son at Epsom Racecourse today - Dixon Jnr is in a Chesterfield hospital with wife Rebecca who is currently in labour expecting the birth of their first child.
There is some good news heading to the hospital as the Dixon-trained Dark Shot (14/1) ran a game race to finish second beaten just a neck in the Investec 'Dash' over five furlongs. The six-year-old gelding has run 36 times and has finished second nine times, including first time out this year at Investec's Spring Meeting and last weekend at York.
"We thought we might get a winner on Derby Day and our first grandchild on the same day, but it wasn't to be," smiled Dixon. "This is one of those unbelievable horses who has bags of ability, but keeps finishing second. There was loads of pace on, I don't know what the time is but they seemed to go lickety-split.
"Well done to David Griffiths - he is great at getting these older horses running. He beat us with Duke Of Firenze and I said 'I bet you beat us at Epsom' - and he did!"
Jockey Paddy Mathers was equally rueful with the second-placing.
"I was off the bridle all the way and I had to sit on him a bit before I asked him a question, and we were just beaten again. We had a clear run through so no excuses," said Mathers. "The ground is lively, but I am really happy with the way he has run - it is just second again!"
THIRD FOR DE VEGA
A fast renewal of the Investec 'Dash' Handicap saw Blue De Vega (25/1), who was drawn in seven, and trained in Newmarket by Robert Cowell, come home in third behind winner Ornate (33/1) and second Dark Shot (14/1).
Ed Bethell, assistant trainer to Cowell, commented: "He wasn't drawn great on the outside, but has run a blinder.
"He was a little unlucky in running, he got checked right when he had the momentum going - if he hadn't got checked he might just have got there.
"It is just one of those things and you have luck in this race.
"I don't know where he will go next, Royal Ascot possibly. I don't know which race, he would go for. You would be looking like something like the Wokingham Handicap (six furlongs and held on the Saturday of Royal Ascot later this month) because there are no five-furlong races.
"He has a big one in him somewhere."
Jockey Martin Dwyer added: "He ran really well. It was a difficult draw and I had to ride him for a bit of luck and he has run a blinder."