The Dante Stakes is the feature at York this afternoon and we're predicting a minor upset in this Epsom Derby trial.
The three-day York Dante meeting continues this afternoon and in search of winners we’ve run the rule over the four Channel 4-televised races, including the eponymous Derby trial.
2.10: Betfred ‘Supports Jack Berry House’ Stakes (Handicap), 5f
This is tricky for punters to say the least but last year’s winner MONSIEUR JOE must have decent claims racing off the same mark as 12 months ago, having been dropped for some below-par efforts in the meantime. He wasn’t sighted in four runs at Meydan at the beginning of the year but could leave that form well behind back at one of his favourite tracks and on a more suitable surface, while the booking of Graham Lee is a another positive sign. It often helps to be drawn middle-high in sprints here so there will be no excuses in that respect from stall 16. At 14/1 with bet365, he’s an each-way price too.
2.40: Betfred Middleton Stakes (Fillies’ Group 2), 1m2f88yds
This race has been kind to punters with the record of favourites since 2004 reading 1132121116. Sir Michael Stoute’s BRAGGING looks almost certain to head the market for this year’s renewal – 2/1 bets with Paddy Power – and she could well continue that good run. She looked in need of the run on her reappearance in a Group 2 at Newmarket, yet ran out a ready winner and she holds the third Bell D’Or on that form. Given she hadn’t quite come in her coat at HQ, she is almost certainly capable of better still and the Newmarket contest has proved a solid launch pad in the past, with five of the last ten winners going on to success at the highest level. She’s likely to get further in time, so I’d expect Ryan Moore to give her a positive ride and make plenty use of her stamina.
3.15: Betfred Dante Stakes (Group 2), 1m2f88yds
The Epsom Derby picture is as clear as mud after several inconclusive trials and it could look even murkier after the running of this established trial as the selection is not even entered for the Classic. The current Derby favourite Jack Hobbs heads a field of eight and he’s been put in as 11/4 favourite, which is probably more based on his potential than what he’s shown on the racecourse. Granted, he absolutely hosed up at Sandown last time, but he was entitled to win that handicap off what looked a generous mark of 85 beforehand and far more is needed now he’s stepping up into Group 2 company.
He may well turn out to be the real deal and in a way I hope he turns it on here as the Derby is in desperate need of a top class horse or two to come to the fore. However, I’m not convinced he’s even the best John Gosden-trained runner in the race, with stablemate GOLDEN HORN preferred over what is likely his optimum trip. He too is unbeaten after two starts and impressed massively when winning the second of those at Newmarket on his reappearance, despite running green and finding the ground faster than ideal. His work on the home gallops since has been exceptional by all accounts and this French Derby entry is attractively priced at 9/2 with Paddy Power to upset not only his stablemate but two other Derby entrants in John F Kennedy (well beaten on his reappearance) and Elm Park (will surely need his first run back).
3.45: Betfred TV Hambleton Stakes (Listed Handicap), 1m
This is wide open with bookmakers going 7/1 the field. Most have settled on Fort Bastion as clear market leader and, while his recent form (0000) looks uninspiring, it’s not hard to see him going well in a race he was short-headed in 12 months ago, while he can be counted a good deal better than his finishing position in the Thirsk Hunt Cup 12 days ago as he completely missed the break. Whether that entitles him to be quite so short is debatable and, at a couple of points bigger (9/1 Ladbrokes), I’d rather be on the Thirsk runner-up OFF ART, who did well to finish as close as he did from terrible draw. He has a much kinder berth in stall three here and, having missed most of last season due to injury, he can start to make up for lost time off what looks a workable mark of 95.
Punters should be aware that bet365 are running their popular Channel 4/1 offer. Back a winner at 4/1 or bigger in any of the four Channel 4-televised races and they will give you a free bet to the same stake (up to £50) on the next race shown live on Channel 4. If that also wins at 4/1 or bigger, get another free bet and so on.
Good luck with your York bets!