Dante & Lockinge Preview with The Snout

York’s Dante festival could be regarded as the biggest pre-Derby meeting in the Flat calendar. 3 days of the highest quality racing on the Knavesmire with some top-class Group 1’s and wide-open handicaps, topped by the feature on Thursday, The Dante Stakes. Since 2000, 4 winners of the Dante have gone on to win the Derby, making it the major trial for the Epsom classic. North Light (2004), Motivator (2005), Authorised (2007) and of course Golden Horn took this race in 2015 before going on to Epsom glory and this years race looks like throwing up potential contenders for Epsom this year. Midterm is the strong 5/4 favourite, and this beautifully bred colt is Sir Michael Stoute’s entry who has a brilliant record in the race. Foundation is John Godsen’s entrant, who has slightly disappointed in his Group races but the step up in trip may be just what he needs. Aidan O’Brien has multiple entries here including Deauville, Black Sea and Claudio Monteverdi, and to discount any of his runners would be a mistake.

The Dante is the main act across the three days but the undercard is nothing short of exceptional. Winners last year included Mahsoob, Star of Seville, Udododontu, and Snow Sky, amongst a number of big handicap winners. Day 1 includes the Duke of York 6 furlong sprint with Magical Memory heading the market. Charlie Hills’ sprinter has been a revelation over the past 12 months, improving 27lb in the process. A handful of sprinters in here look to have solid claims and interestingly this race tends to go to the classier types that have won at Listed level or above. An enticing race and I’ll be looking forward to sending my selections out for this one. Day 1 also holds the Musidora Fillies Stakes  won last year by Star of Seville.

Day 2 hosts an intriguing Middleton Stakes for Fillies and Mares. Last year Secret Gesture won this under a canny ride from Andrea Atzeni and he rides Lady of Dubai this year who for me slightly disappointed last year when not going on from her 3rd in the Oaks. Journey heads the market for John Gosden at 3/1 who improved from a rating of 76 to 114 last year including a devastating performance at Newmarket. The step back in trip should be no problem at all and looks a solid contender. A number of Class 1 races on this day in addition to the Dante makes it an absolutely cracking day of racing for any racing fan.

The Group 2 Yorkshire Cup takes centre stage on Friday over 1m6f. A similar theme to contests in the previous two days in that the more classy types tend to prosper here. Ryan Moore & Sir Michael Stoute took this race last year with the well-backed Snow Sky, beating the 13/8f Brown Panther in the process. The exciting Bondi Beach may well line up here however 4 year olds don’t have the greatest record in the race, could that mean an upset is on the cards?

The brilliant 3 days at York is then immediately followed up with a cracking card at Newbury on Saturday, with the showpiece the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes ran over 1m. To put into context how strong a race this is, the past 4 winners have been Night of Thunder, Olympic Glory, Farhh and Frankel. Four exceptional horses including the greatest there has ever been, and I hope this year throws up another brilliant winner, with Limato likely to line up and sure to be well-fancied. He has shown in his 2 and 3 year old form that he has a serious engine and a turn of foot that has been deadly. The question mark with him is the step up in trip – but being a year older and wiser he may well get that and if he does he could prove hard to beat. There will sure to be value in the race with big names likely to include Home of The Brave, Berardo and Toormore. Richard Hannon has a fantastic record in the race and it will be very interesting to see whether he enters Estidhkaar or Moheet with Toormore likely to be his main chance. A fantastic support card is in place with so much to get stuck into.

A brilliant four days and I will be having selections across all of them. If you wish to get involved then the Festival package is available to cover both meetings – it will prove to be an excellent few days!


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