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Dante Festival Day 2 Tips – Through the Card Selections at York on Thursday

Project Dante ridden by Graham Lee on their way to winning the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes during the Dante Festival at York Racecourse.

York’s prestigious Dante Festival continues on Thursday with Day 2’s card featuring another seven competitive races. Our expert has provided through the card selections for the Thursday action on the Knavesmire, which you can check out below, along with 888Sport‘s handy sign-up bonus of £40 In Bet Bonuses, When You Bet £10.


BEDFORD FLYER – (1.50 York, Paddy Power ‘Making Flat Less Flat’ Handicap) 11/1

Raasel is in great heart at present and warrants obvious respect, for all that he is up 7lb for his latest win. Copper Knight bids for a hat-trick of wins in this event, but he might be in the grips of the handicapper at present. Digital went close over course and distance last August and comes into this race-fit, which can’t be said for the reappearing Jawwaal, but preference instead goes to BEDFORD FLYER.

Les Eyre’s colt took the 3yos 5f handicap at this Festival last year when accounting for an above-average sort in Nomadic Empire.

Off the track after expectably being outclassed in the Nunthorpe here in August, Bedford Flyer made a very promising reappearance when a close second at Lingfield last month, and the winner has held his form in three subsequent runs.

Bedford Flyer bombed out at Ripon last time, yet given he reared leaving the stalls and was hampered it’s probably best to put a line through that showing. Back at his beloved York off a mark he looks capable of defying, there’s enough in his favour to put him up as the advised play here.


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NOON STAR – (2.25 York, Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies’ Stakes) 7/2

This looks on paper at least to be a clash between Ireland (more specifically owners Newtown Anner Stud) and Sir Michael Stoute.

The market favours Thunder Kiss here for Ger Lyons and Colin Keane, but it’s a slight niggle that this mare is 0-4 over trips of 1m2f, as opposed to 5-8 when tackling 1m3f+, and therefore she’s probably worth taking on at her price of 9/4, for all that she was very impressive at Cork last time out.

In the same silks Forbearance is a previous course winner, but looks entitled to need this first start since September, so it is the Stoute duo that it should pay to focus on.

Ville De Grace was most progressive last season and shaped with plenty of encouragement when going down in a head-bob of a finish at Newmarket in last month’s Dahlia Stakes, but it’s a slight concern that she struggled on her only previous visit to the Knavesmire, and that tilts the balance of favour to stablemate NOON STAR.

This Juddmonte filly has always seemingly been held in quite high regard by connections and was sent off the 11/10F to land the Musidora at this Festival 12 months ago. Noon Star failed to justify those odds, but given the horses she split, Snowfall and Teona, were both Group 1 winners, it was far from a poor showing.

1m4f stretched Noon Star’s stamina in the Ribblesdale last June, and she looked far happier back over this distance when landing a Listed race at Nottingham last month. Noon Star is entitled to strip a little fitter with that outing under her belt and looks less exposed than most of these rivals, so there’s every chance that there’s improvement to come.

On that Musidora running 12 months ago, she would be the one to beat here.


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TRAIS FLUORS – (3.00 York, Paddy Power Hambleton Handicap) 9/1

Isla Kai is a definite player here having put up a fine showing when fourth in Newbury’s Spring Cup on reappearance last month, whilst there’s every chance he will develop into a Listed/Group 3 operator this season.

Although he’s fastly becoming something of a cliff horse for me, however, I can’t help but give TRAIS FLUORS one more chance, as the 8yo has long shaped like a horse with a big pot in him.

It’s now 13 months to the day since this gelding landed a competitive Sandown handicap, and whilst he’s got plenty of duck eggs by his name since, as a result, he’s slipped 5lb below that winning mark and has shaped in both starts this campaign as though a return to winning ways could be imminent.

Trais Fluors endured absolutely no luck in running when down the field in the Thirsk Hunt Cup last month and essentially finished on the bridle behind a wall of horses. His run style can make him something of a hostage to fortune, but if Silvestre De Sousa can navigate a passage here this would be a good opportunity for Trais Fluors to get his head back in front, with 1m on decent ground at a galloping track his optimum conditions.


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ROYAL PATRONAGE – (3.35 York, Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes) 7/1

Those heading the market for this year’s Dante Stakes undoubtedly have the sexy profiles being lightly raced last time out winners hailing from top Newmarket yards, but on the bare form, both Desert Crown and Magisterial have it all to prove at this level and neither can be put forward as the bet.

El Bodegon has excellent juvenile form to his name, but that’s mostly come on testing ground in France, and this represents a completely different test on his first start since October.

Bluegrass represents powerful connections but only holds a rating of 98. That’s a stone below the rating of ROYAL PATRONAGE, who has admittedly had more opportunities to showcase his talent, but even so, Charlie & Mark Johnston’s colt has enough ticks by his name here to suggest an each-way price of 8/1 is too big to ignore.

A Group 2 winning juvenile (over subsequent 2000 Guineas winner Coroebus), Royal Patronage arguably travelled better than anything in last month’s Classic, but he was outpaced at the business end that day and as it was his first start of the season, it can be expected that connections had left him with a bit to work on.

The first foal out of a French 1m4f winner (close relation to Irish Derby third Shalapour), middle distance trips are where Royal Patronage is expected to come into his own, and he’s already got course form in the book courtesy of last August’s Acomb win. These connections know what it takes to win the Dante (albeit a rescheduled version) having sent out Thunderous to score in 2020, and Royal Patronage can emulate his stablemate with victory on Thursday.

Both Masekela and Kingmax are bigger priced each-way alternatives to the selection and are preferred in that order, but it’s Jason Hart’s mount who’s taken to land the spoils.


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BOONIE – (4.10 York, British Stallion Studs EBF Westow Stakes) 4/1

Given the connections record with their British runners recently, it’s hardly a surprise to see King Of Bavaria well fancied to land this race.

He’s just a little too short considering he was being considered for Guineas trials last season, however, and didn’t really look an out and out sprinter when fourth at Navan on reappearance.

That comment is a direct contrast to the selection, BOONIE, who has been all speed up to now, finishing placed in both the Windsor Castle and Molecomb as a juvenile. Kevin Ryan’s charge deservedly got his head back in front when landing a conditions race at Nottingham on last month’s reappearance, travelling powerfully and showing a decent turn of foot to put his race to bed, whilst it was a plus to see that form franked when the runner-up scored at Hamilton next time out.

The aptly-named Project Dante was a winner at this meeting last year and has been given wind surgery since last seen, but given the form he was in when last seen, just a watching brief is advised at present.


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QUEEN OLLY – (4.45 York, Frank Whittle Partnership ebfstallions.com Maiden Stakes) 9/2

Given his connections, Match Play can be expected to have had York on his radar for a while and looks best of those to have already raced, but there is a fascinating newcomer here in the shape of QUEEN OLLY, who represents the David Loughnane/Amo Racing partnership which has been seen to such good effect with their juveniles so far this season.

A hefty €300,000 purchase at the yearling sales back in September, Queen Olly is out of a daughter to the classy sprinter Lesson In Humility, whose progeny include Melbourne Cup second Tiger Moth and Group-placed juvenile Coach House.

Owners Amo Racing are operating at an impressive 29% strike rate with their juveniles on turf so far this season, and Queen Olly can enhance that with a victory here.


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RAVENSCRAIG CASTLE – (5.20 York, Fidomoney Handicap) 5/1

Ahorsewithnoname backed up her 50/1 Cheltenham Festival second when a winner returned to the level at Newbury last month, and Ryan Moore retains the partnership here. She didn’t appear to win with bags in hand there, however, so a 6lb rise certainly demands more, particularly as that form has received significant knocks since.

Preference goes to RAVENSCRAIG CASTLE, whose 3yo form figures read a more than respectable 11324, his third coming in the ultra-competitive Melrose at this venue.

Iain Jardine’s charge has long shaped like a horse who’d benefit from going up to staying distances, and he did little to disprove that theory when a close-up third in a 2m Ripon handicap on last month’s reappearance.

It was encouraging to see the winner that day, Rajinsky, back up the form when third in last week’s Chester Cup, and considering that the second was coming into Ripon with a run already under his belt, it was a performance from Ravenscraig Castle that could be upgraded.

This represents a slight drop in class to 0-90 level for Ravenscraig Castle, which he should appreciate, and he’s really had fewer opportunities than most in this lineup, particularly over 2m+, so rates as the one to be with.

Hydroplane didn’t perform quite as hoped in last week’s Chester Plate but connections turn him out quickly here and opt for a headgear switch, so don’t be shocked to see an improved showing.


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York Dante Festival Day 2 Tips

BEDFORD FLYER – (1.50 York, Paddy Power ‘Making Flat Less Flat’ Handicap) 11/1

NOON STAR – (2.25 York, Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies’ Stakes) 7/2

TRAIS FLUORS – (3.00 York, Paddy Power Hambleton Handicap) 9/1

ROYAL PATRONAGE – (3.35 York, Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes) 7/1

BOONIE – (4.10 York, British Stallion Studs EBF Westow Stakes) 4/1

QUEEN OLLY – (4.45 York, Frank Whittle Partnership ebfstallions.com Maiden Stakes) 9/2

RAVENSCRAIG CASTLE – (5.20 York, Fidomoney Handicap) 5/1


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