Double to be quickest

Racing: Sue Montgomery selects the horses to follow at Epsom this afternoon
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The Independent Online
THERE are few more exhilarating sights than a field of sprinters hurtling down the fastest five-furlong track in Britain, and the focus at Epsom today is on speed. The feature race, the Vodaphone Dash, offers a pounds 50,000 bonus if the winner beats the course record time of 53.60 seconds.

That was set by Indigenous back in 1960, when he humped 9st 5lb to victory on firm ground. The going today is likely to be fast, and history could be made on Epsom's first Sunday meeting. That the 10 runners in the dash are handicappers, rather than elite sprinters, matters not, for few time records are held by top-class horses.

With Jack Berry's front- running Tuscan Prince and the fast trapper Brave Edge, from Richard Hannon's stable, in the field, a lightning pace is guaranteed, but the finish may prove to be a battle between youth, in the shape of the three-year-old Double Quick, and experience, represented by the 10-year-old Ashtina.

The latter, sent up from Somerset by Ron Hodges, retains his form remarkably well, and comes to Epsom with a win at Chester under his belt. In that contest, he beat Jayannpee (3lb better off) by a length with a bit in hand. Tuscan Prince was further back, but has an 8lb pull on the winner this time.

The Yorkshire challenger Double Quick, trained by Mark Johnston, is in even better form, with victories at Sandown and Thirsk behind her. Three weeks ago, she gave her rivals weight and a comprehensive beating, showing a fine turn of foot in the process, and although this is her sternest test to date she is on the upgrade and may be a step ahead of the handicapper.

Dahik, top-weight in the Martin Dawes Conditions Stakes, has a glimmer of class (he beat the Derby runner Maralinga at York and chased home the Italian Derby third at Salisbury) but may not cope with the concession of 8lb to Ela-Aristokrati, third to the subsequent winners Holtye and Ihtiram over a mile at Newmarket on his seasonal debut.

In the final race, Axeman caught the eye at Lingfield last time and looks sure to win a handicap, and Midwich Cuckoo ran creditably on his reappearance. But preference is given to Emirates Express, who beat all but Shahid at Goodwood.