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York Dante Festival – Day 2

Morning all,

All things York today. It’s day two at York’s Dante Festival which looks set to provide more Derby clues with the latest running of the Dante Stakes (3.35). Last year’s race was won by the eventual Derby third Hurricane Lane and this renewal looks strong.

The Group 2 Middleton Fillies’ Stakes (2.25) and the Listed Westow Stakes (4.10) add more quality to an interesting card.

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Inside today’s main piece I look back at some of the highlights of day one at York. Plus, I preview the best of today’s action at the track.

Dante Festival – Day 1 Highlights

Odds on favourite Emily Upjohn was the pick of the paddock before the Musidora Stakes. A good-looking filly she ran out an emphatic winner of the race.  Given how keen she was It was impressive to see her pulling clear of her rivals 1f out. The right filly Life Of Dreams was five lengths back in second and all in all was a good trial for the Oaks.

The winner deserves to head the Oaks betting and the bookies were clearly impressed with her performance as she’s now as short as 5/4 for Epsom. The race is gearing up into good contest should all the main contenders show up.

Earlier on the card Highfield Princess, nicely backed in the morning, stormed clear of her rivals to win the Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes. Dropping back to 6f wasn’t an inconvenience for the 5-year-old who deserves to take her chance in the Platinum Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Dragon Symbol the 11/4 joint favourite showed plenty of early pace but went out like a light and could only finish 7th.  He may have needed the run but this was a disappointing effort. Minzaal the other joint favourite was another who should be sharper with run under his belt.  He finished 3 ¾ lengths behind the winner at the line and this will set him up for the Platinum Jubilee.

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York Dante Festival – Day 2

3:35 – Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes (Group 2) – 1m 2 ½ f

The Gosden yard won this in 2015 with Golden Horn who went onto Derby success at Epsom. They saddle recent Leicester scorer Magisterial. The son Frankel deserves his chance in a Derby Trial and looks capable of more progress.

There has been plenty of support in the Derby ante post betting for Desert Crown. The colt who won his sole juvenile start at Nottingham, is now a best priced 6/1 for Epsom. The colt should do well over middle distance’s as 3-year-old. So, it will be interesting to see how well he’s done physically over the winter.

El Bodegon who beat Stone Age in what now looks strong form in last season’s Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud, must prove he’s as effective on a sound surface as he is testing ground. If he is then he’s a major player.  

The all-conquering Aidan O’Brien stable brings over Bluegrass who finished 5 ½ length 4th of 9 to another Derby hopeful in Piz Badile in Ballysax Stakes. He’s been steadily progressive and could step up significantly for his Leopardstown return.

Royal Patronage who won the Group 2 Royal Lodge as juvenile was a 6 ¼ lengths 8th of 15 to Coroebus in 2,000 Guineas on his seasonal return. He’s bred to improve for middle distances and can’t be discounted here.

Verdict: This year’s Dante has the makings of a good race. Indeed, it could prove to be this season’s key Derby Trial. El Bodegon and Royal Patronage bring high class juvenile form into the race and they are up against potential improvers in Magisterial, Bluegrass and the exciting Desert Crown.

2:25 – Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies' Stakes (Group 2) – 1m 2 ½ f

Just the six fillies and mares go to post. It’s an intriguing enough race and you can’t dismiss any of them. 

The market is headed by the Ger Lyons trained Thunder Kiss. The 5-year-old won the Munster Oaks at Cork last season and ended the campaign with a success in a Listed race at Naas. Looked as good as ever when winning a Listed race at Cork last month. She stays 1m 4f well but won’t be inconvenienced by the drop back to an extended 1m 2f.

Ville De Grace an improving filly last season, almost made a winning return to action when going down by a nose in a Group 2 at Newmarket 11-days ago. The return to 1m 2f will suit her and she’s a got a big chance. Stablemate Noon Star finished in the runner-up in last season’s Musidora over C&D. She was only having her second start since the Musidora. When winning the Nottinghamshire Oaks 16-days ago on her first start for 10 months. Lightly raced she’s open to further improvement.

Forbearance and Aristia both won Listed races here last year. The latter over C&D and the former over 1m 4f. Both make their seasonal returns and are not out of this if fit enough.

Thursday Racing

Besides York there are flat cards at Salisbury and Newmarket with jumps fixtures at Fontwell, Perth and Clonmel.

After Highwaygrey’s poor run yesterday I need a winner today. Like yesterday I’m heading to the Knavesmire for today’s selection.

York

2:25 – Noon Star – 100/30 @ Coral & Ladbrokes

Good luck with your Thursday bets.

John

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