York Dante Festival: Day One

We have some high quality action coming up from York this week with the highlights being the Oaks and Derby trials, as well as the first big stayers’ race of the season in the Yorkshire Cup.

Despite not throwing up quite as many classic winners in the last few years, the trials at York are generally among the best and consistently feature horses who go on to perform at the highest level.  The Dante has been the better signpost in recent years with Golden Horn winning two years ago and a particular purple patch in the mid-2000s with three Derby winners in four years.

It’s difficult to look too far ahead for this week’s meeting as there is heavy rain forecast and if that arrives on schedule the ground will change dramatically ahead of racing.  If the rain does come, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a spate of non-runner before racing today.

As with most meetings like this, there is a good balance of races featuring a number of big field handicaps and if we can just find a winner of one of those early on we’ll be set-up for the week.


We’ll keep selections fairly brief today; with question marks remaining over what the ground will be today there is the danger of going over the form over and over again, so best to keep things as succinct as possible and just focus on a few races.


2:20 1m2½f (1m2f56y) Sky Bet First Race Special Handicap: Reading the form on the presumption the forecast rain will arrive ahead of racing and turn the ground soft we can narrow the field down slightly.  Saunter has form from France on soft ground and this looks to be his optimum trip, while Qassem also showed ability on softer ground in France for Andre Fabre and should be better than his debut for Hugo Palmer last year after having had time to acclimatise.  Cosmeopolitan could be interesting under these conditions for Alan King, but preference is for REPERCUSSION who performed well enough on soft ground for Andre Fabre in France and represents Charlie Fellowes who has his stable in tremendous form.  Lovell is interesting after a long lay-off but is perhaps best watched for now.


3:30 6f Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes (Group 2):  Brando looks the obvious contender here and is a worthy favourite, there has been plenty of talk about him this year and he’d have to win this to have a chance of fulfilling expectations.  The Tin Man has plenty of form that appeals but is burdened with a penalty and that could perhaps just hold him back for win purposes on softer going.  SUEDOIS was highly consistent last year, ran well at York and has form on softer ground, so I expect him to run well at a price that makes him backable each way.


4:05 1m2½f (1m2f56y) Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (Group 3) (Fillies): Shutter Speed is likely to go off at odds-on and it is easy to see why.  She was very impressive at Newbury last month and the form looks incredibly strong with Enable, who was third in that race, following up to win well in the Oaks trial at Chester.  If the race runs to form she surely wins.  However, the selection here goes to VOCIFEROUS MARINA.  Her form is nowhere near the level of the favourite but she is worth taking a chance with a dirty each way bet; she has plenty of room for improvement and Jim Bolger wouldn’t be in the habit of sending over no hopers for races like this; she also has form on soft so if the ground goes against the favourite we could potentially see a surprise.  At 5/1 and a quarter of the odds, I fully expect her to be at least second best so is a bet to nothing at each way on those terms and she could be capable of upsetting the favourite under likely conditions.


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