We’ve teamed up with BetVictor to preview the day’s racing.
The Group 2 Dante Stakes is the feature race of York’s three-day May meeting and is widely regarded as the premier trial for the Derby with four winners on the Knavesmire since the turn of the century going on to Epsom glory (North Light 2004), Motivator (2005), Authorised (2007) and Golden Horn (2015).
The betting for today’s competitive 11-runner contest (3.30) is headed by John Gosden’s Frankel progeny Cracksman (9/4 at BetVictor) who goes into the race unbeaten in two starts.
The colt is out of a Pivotal mare and both wins have been gained on good to soft ground so Wednesday’s rain shouldn’t be a concern unless conditions become extremely testing.
The favourite must go close but I have my reservations about the horse who runs in the same colours as the great Golden Horn and my two against the field are Benbatl and Crystal Ocean with the each-way vote going to the former.
The selection looked ill at ease by a combination of fast ground and Newmarket’s undulations in the Craven last time and the form was franked when the runner up (Rivet) was placed in the French Guineas on Sunday. The colt is certainly bred for the job and at 8/1 with BetVictor I would be disappointed if he didn’t run well in what promises to be a most informative contest.
The other group contest on the card is the Group 2 Middleton Stakes for fillies and mares.
This will be the softest ground encountered by So Mi Dar (2.55) to date but I am a big fan of the filly who is, arguably, unlucky not to be defending an unbeaten record having not had the run of the race when third in the Prix de l’Opera on her last start. The selection is 11/10 at BetVictor and receives 3lbs from her main rival Queen’s Trust who is penalised for winning the Grade 1 Fillies & Mare Turf at Santa Anita back in November.
Andrew Balding has his string in good heart and first time out might be the time to catch Here Comes When (4.05) who will love the recent rain and at 16/1 with BetVictor can reward each way support.
Brian The Snail (4.35) is an unlikely named runner especially in the colours of Godolphin but I think he is a potentially top class sprinter and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t maintain his unbeaten record in the listed event over five furlongs.
The selection won a six-furlong handicap on good ground last time and drops back a furlong this afternoon on ground which is likely to be good to soft at best. The selection has winning form on soft ground as a juvenile so underfoot conditions should not be a concern.
There is a good card at Newmarket this evening and I hope Mutarabby (6.20) can go one better than when second at Leicester on his reappearance. The winner didn’t exactly frank the form on his next start but this well-bred colt must go close for inform Saeed bin Suroor.
I am keen on the chances of Fire Brigade (8.30) in the last for Michael Bell with Silvestre De Souza a significant jockey booking.
The gelding was getting his act together on the all-weather towards the end of his juvenile campaign and ran a good race when third at Yarmouth over 7f on his reappearance. He is not guaranteed to get this extra furlong on breeding but his style of racing suggests he has every chance of getting tonight’s mile.
Rainy City (2.30) was not at his best over timber last time but connections appear to have found an ideal opportunity for his chase debut at Perth given he needs to go right-handed and the forecast good ground is ideal.
The champion trainer has a leading chance in the 2m 4f handicap chase with Lou Vert who would surely have gone close had he not come down three out on his penultimate start at Wincanton. The nod, however, goes to Cooper’s Friend (4.45) who ran well over 3m last time and will appreciate dropping back in trip on that evidence.
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