York’s Dante Stakes card kicks off on Thursday with the Betfred ‘Supports Jack Berry House’ Handicap, a Class 2, 5f dash with 19 horses running of all shapes, ages, backgrounds and sizes. But there are a few to be added to the shortlist in search of a winner in the opener at 2.20pm.
Major Jumbo is on the upgrade for Kevin Ryan, a stable that does so well here at York. This 4yo is a ball of speed and could have more to offer on his mark of 100. East Street Revue was a convincing winner here back in October and is well suited by big fields, so he could go well again if on song. Another interesting one is Scott Dixon’s Dark Shot at much bigger odds. Formerly with Andrew Balding, this horse has been frustrating at times, but is talented and perhaps a change of scenery will help. He’s on a fair mark of 88 and Jamie Gormley takes 5lb off.
The Group 2 Middleton Stakes at 2.55pm sees seven fillies head to post for this 1m2f contest, headed by Henry Candy’s Chain Of Daisies. She’s tough and has plenty of ability, but has tended to need her first run in previous years. Mori returns after a wind op for Sir Michael Stoute, but is another perhaps best watched first time out, after a tame back end to her 2017 campaign. Smart Call is the dark horse in the race for the same yard, but Coronet is the class act in the field and you’d have to be hopeful this athletic Dubawi filly can improve again as a 4yo for John Gosden, after a highly respectable 3yo season.
The main event of the day is of course the Betfred Dante Stakes at 3.30pm, which is one of the most important Epsom Derby trials and generally a cracking race its in own right. Nine horses head to post this year and it’ll be fascinating to see how some really interesting prospects sort themselves out over the 10f trip.
John Gosden’s Roaring Lion is a worthy market leader after finishing an excellent 5th in the 2000 Guineas. Stamina is his concern, but he is a quality 3yo. Crossed Baton left plenty to work on at Epsom, but had enough in the locker to get the job done under Frankie Dettori. The form of that trial is working out well and at around 9/2, John Gosden’s second favourite has very pressing claims. At bigger prices, Nordic Lights catches the eye for Appleby/Buick & Godolphin, after a fluent Newmarket success last month, more than justifying his place in this field.
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