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Special Features

The Super Six – Which Stars Headline This Week’s Action


York’s Dante meeting provides a tremendous three days of racing from Wednesday this week, which culminates with Newbury’s Group 1 Lockinge Stakes. With superstars in action throughout the week, we have picked out the biggest six names competing, alongside 888Sport‘s handy sign-up bonus of £40 In Bet Bonuses, When Your Bet £10.

Dragon Symbol (Wednesday, 3.00 York)

In the Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes on Wednesday, we may see the return of one of the unluckiest horses in racing.

DRAGON SYMBOL made an incredible start to his career for Archie Watson winning on his first four starts. He looked set for a Group race victory on his first start in Pattern company last May, only to be beaten in the final strides in Haydock’s Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes.

Connections thought he had made up for that when first past the post in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup next time out. The stewards felt differently, however, ruling that he had interfered with runner-up Campanelle, and demoting him to second place.

Two more second-placed efforts followed, before his form gradually faltered. Nevertheless, he was still third and fourth in two 5f Group 1s in the Nunthorpe and Flying Five Stakes respectively, before finishing down the field for the first time in his career on Champions Day at Ascot.

This year will hopefully bring a new dawn, for there is no horse who deserves a big race victory more. However, a changing of the tide has already occurred in respects to his training.

He is now trained by Roger Varian, for whom he will make his debut on Wednesday. The grey would be a popular winner on day one of the Dante meeting.


Emily Upjohn (Wednesday, 3.35 York)

1000 Guineas third Tuesday narrowly holds sway at the top of the Oaks market. However, should EMILY UPJOHN  deliver on the promise of her Sandown novice success in the Group 3 Musidora Stakes on Wednesday, then O’Brien’s filly is almost certain to be usurped.

A daughter of Sea The Stars and related none too distantly to 2016 Derby winner Harzand, Emily Upjohn would only have seemed a speculative ante-post angle to many on the back of her debut success at Wolverhampton last season. She was getting 12lb from a Godolphin-bearing runner-up in Secret Image, and only beat him a neck.

However, that was a strong race to win on her first start and she hit the line strongly. Nevertheless, predicting what she would do on her reappearance would have proved thankless, as she trounced her rivals ob 9½ lengths over 1m2f last month.

The runner-up has let down the form significantly since, although the only other rival to have run again since that day was stablemate Emotion. She was only eighth that day, on debut, but has since followed up to win by 16 lengths herself. Take your pick as to which line is more reliable.

The impression Emily Upjohn left was that of a very promising filly whichever way you view that success. Both Charlie Appleby and Aidan O’Brien have opposition in attendance on Wednesday, so victory over their duo would send another shockwave through the Oaks betting.


Desert Crown (Thursday, 3.35 York)

One of the more remarkable gambles in the Epsom Classics looks set to take his chance in the Dante on Thursday.

There have been significant moves by a number of Aidan O’Brien’s potential runners, not least Stone Age, who now heads the market after a stylish win in the Group 3 Derby Trial at Leopardstown at the weekend. However, a win in a known Classic precursor such as that contest is always likely to shake up the betting.

What is far more unusual is the money for DESERT CROWN, once-raced for Sir Michael Stoute. He now finds himself at a best price of 6/1 for the Derby. The slide on his odds has gone into overdrive recently, as he began May at around 33/1.

The form of his Nottingham maiden success is decent, but relatively modest. However, it is both the manner and the historic strength of the race which have likely caught punters’ eyes.

The likes of Space Blues and Mishriff have won divisions of the race within the last four years. Moreover, five of the winners of any division since 2016 have gone on to have an official rating over 100.

The winning margin for Desert Crown was 5½ lengths. He will have far tougher opposition on Thursday, but a win of any margin will truly enhance his claims, and make that gamble look very shrewd indeed.


Stradivarius (Friday, 3.35 York)

Legendary status is all but secure for STRADIVARIUS already, but the eight-year-old is set for one more season at the top of the staying division.

However, whether he is quite the same horse he used to be is debatable. 2021 was the first year in which he failed to win a Group 1 since he was a juvenile in 2016. He raced in two of them, those being the Gold Cup at Ascot and the Prix Du Cadran at Longchamp, but found younger legs were too strong for him.

He still battled to two Group 2 successes at York and Doncaster and it remains only 18 months since he was considered classy enough to run in the Arc. Conversely, that race is the last time he ran over a trip short of 2m, which is what he will face in the Yorkshire Cup if declared on Friday.

His slight decline is probably best illustrated through his official rating. He was rated 125 going into the 2021 season, but he has fallen 7lb since then. Last year’s Gold Cup hero Subjectivist may be out for the season, which will give connections hope of at least one final hurrah. 

That said, there is an even greater name to be feared among Stradivarius’ fans…


Trueshan (Friday, 3.35 York)

TRUESHAN has an immaculate record when he has raced against Stradivarius. Not only has he beaten John Gosden’s charge on all three encounters with each other, but he has also won all three races in which they have both taken part.

Alan King took the bold approach of aiming Trueshan at the Northumberland Plate last term. His handicap mark of 118 was comfortably the highest in such a race during the 2021 season, and while he could not defy it in that particular race, he swiftly gained ready compensation.

He won his first Group 1 under Hollie Doyle in the Goodwood Cup last July, then eased to success over Stradivarius by 4½ lengths in the Prix Du Cadran at Longchamp. That success over 2m4f shows no trip is too great for him.

Trueshan was not done there, winning his second successive British Champion Long Distance Cup at the close of last season. He may still have been seen as Stradivarius’ underdog this time last year, but there is no doubt he now regions supreme.

If anyone else is to get their hands on a big staying prize this season, Trueshan is the one they now all have to beat.


Baaeed (Saturday, 3.20 Newbury)

York’s Dante meeting will have concluded on Friday, but arguably the biggest treat is saved until Saturday.

The Group 1 Lockinge Stakes is the first top tier prize of the season in Great Britain for those not within the Classic generation. It looks all but certain that we will see the return of BAAEED in this contest.

Possibly the top performer of 2021, William Haggas’ four-year-old just kept winning, progressing immensely as the season went on. He only made his debut last June, winning a Leicester maiden. Less than two months later, he was a Listed and Group 3 winner, with newmarket’s Sir Henry Cecil Stakes and Goodwood’s Thoroughbred Stakes won cosily or safe keeping.

His rise to Group 1 level was a formality from that point. He graduated readily at Longchamp, winning the Prix Du Moulin with a bit to spare. Nevertheless, with champion miler Palace Pier in his way on his final start of the season in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, his unbeaten record looked under serious threat.

That threat was disposed of emphatically, for while Baaeed only won by a neck, he and Jim Crowley were firmly in control by the finish. Six races produced six wins and there can only be tremendous excitement about what he could do as an older horse.

Such a reputation will ensure he is a target for all his opponents. However, he has such ability that few may be able to match him and he will be a warm favourite for the Lockinge at kick off.


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