Epsom preview: Decorated Knight to dazzle in Diomed Stakes
David Metcalf | June 2, 2016
Knight can rise to the occasion in Diomed Stakes
Decorated Knight is a lightly-raced and improving sort and looks the answer to the Group 3 Diomed Stakes at Epsom on the opening day of the Investec Derby Festival (15.10).
The gelding scored twice last season when trained by Roger Varian and also posted some smart efforts in defeat.
They included a keeping on 5 1/2 lengths third of four to the classy Time Test in the Group 2 Joel Stakes at Newmarket, and a solid fourth in a Group 3 contest at the same venue.
Decorated Knight then joined Roger Charlton for the start of this campaign, and looked better than ever on debut for his new handler when an eye-catching fourth to GM Hopkins in a Listed affair at Ascot.
The four-year-old held every chance a furlong from home before staying on nicely to be beaten 3 1/4 lengths.
Impressive success at Goodwood
It was a highly promising comeback run after 200 days on the sidelines, and Decorated Knight duly improved for it to land a Listed contest at Goodwood in good style.
The son of Galileo travelled strongly throughout and showed a smart turn of foot to score with more in hand than the 1/2 length winning margin suggests.
This demands more, but Decorated Knight remains open to further progress after just eight starts and has winning form on good-to-soft ground which is a big plus given all the rain that has fallen at the track.
Ground a worry for Arod
Arod was very impressive when winning this race 12 months ago and finished 1 1/4 length in front of Decorated Knight when third on return to action at Ascot.
The Peter Chapple-Hyam trained five-year-old is a very smart performer, as he showed when chasing home Solow in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood last April, and an official rating of 118 gives him 4lb and upwards in hand on his rivals.
However, Arod needs lightning fast ground to be seen at his best and he is not going to get that.
Custom Cut sure to go well
One that handles any going is Custom Cut, and he looks capable of bouncing back from a below par effort in Ireland last time out to make his presence felt.
The gelding has thrived since joining Yorkshire handler David O’Meara, and enjoyed another profitable campaign last season when bagging two Group 2 contests.
Custom Cut also ran very well when beaten just a length by Time Test in a Group 2 at Newmarket, and was far from disgraced on seasonal reappearance at Doncaster when third to Bellardo.
The seven-year-old backed that up with a solid fourth to the progressive Mahsoob in the Group 3 Earl Of Sefton Stakes and his run at Leopardstown last month was too bad to be true.
On the pick of his form Custom Cut is in with a big shout, and the son of Notnowcato is a really tough sort who looks sure to give it his best shot.
Coral’s top tip: With the ground going against Arod, the improving Decorated Knight looks worth a wager to land the spoils. Custom Cut is a tough sort and rates a big danger on the pick of his form.