Veteran sprinter Duke Of Firenze has an outstanding chance of winning the Epsom Dash this Saturday on Classic weekend, to further his fine record in one of Britain's fastest horse-races.
That is the view of his trainer David Griffiths, who will saddle the ten-year-old for his sixth appearance in the relentless competitive handicap in Surrey, looking to follow up his success back in 2013 off a fifteen-pound better-off mark.
Franny Norton will climb aboard for the first time on Saturday, after the former Sir Michael Stoute-trained gelding has made a remarkable return to that winning feeling at Thirsk and York in the past couple of weeks.
Finishing a narrow third on two other occasions, his handicap mark looks something to saviour.
(Credit: Racing Post) Griffiths said: "He’s got to go there with a brilliant chance, he’s gone up to 90 and is running off 89 with his two penalties.
"He loves Epsom, he’s right back to his best and from a purely handicapping point of view, he was beaten a short neck in the race off 107 two years ago. If he’s back to as good as he is, he’s seriously well handicapped off 89."
Griffiths endured a discouraging season with the sprinter last term, but his never-ending losing run meant he started this season 23lb below his opening mark of 107 twelve months ago.
Since dropping down into the 80's, he has began to flourish once again.
Griffiths continued: "It was difficult for him last year. He started off 107 after finishing fourth in the Abbaye and he struggled – I couldn’t really put my finger on why.
"The fact that he did struggle meant he came down 23lb in the weights. We took a couple of runs to get him back and feeling okay at home, but the win at Thirsk gave him massive confidence and he loves York.
"He was well handicapped on his old form but he did it well and has come out of it really well."
Currently a general 10/1 shot behind strong favourite and Irish raider Hathiq, Duke Of Firenze would have to go against all recent trends that stand before him.
No horse has won the Dash as a ten-year-old, something old foes Caspian Prince - who will carry top weight, and Pettochside will also look to defy.
Firenze's trainer though stated that he always believed his five furlong specialist had never lost his talents, and that retirement was never in mind despite plenty of poor showings.
"I know a few people had said after he’d run a few times that he didn't want it anymore, but he never showed us that at home.
"They never lose the ability until a certain point, but as long as you look after them the better ones have got it there. He didn’t have it last year but he looks to have found it again now."
"On the track he [Duke Of Firenze] is nothing like a sprinter; he’s not like Take Cover or even Ornate, he doesn’t have to go down last or be led down or have a blindfold in the stalls.
"He’s so straightforward on the track whereas at home he can be a bit of a monkey," he finished.