Day 2 of the York Dante meeting, with the eponymous race due off at 3.30 This is the day when lazy journos manage to get the word ‘inferno’ into their copy, but we will have no truck with such devices. The race is, in fact, named in honour of the Derby winner of 1945, a race run at Newmarket to avoid the area where, as Gendarme Crabtree might have said, ‘the bums were dripping’.
Major early news of this race is the defection of the ante post favourite Cracksman, owing to the testing conditions, which is a shame, as we were going to oppose it anyway.
New favourite at 7-2 is the Godolphin owned Benbatl, last seen finishing 3rd in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket, but with just a maiden win to its name before that, safe to look elsewhere.
We think that the Joseph O’Brien representative Rekindling is the one to be with. Trained last season by the now retired David Watchman, this High Chaparral colt won the Group 3 Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown on debut for this yard in April and the second, third & fourth have since finished first, second and third (keep up) in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial. Distance, and ground are both ideal today, so at 4-1 we suggest you Take That e/w and hope it runs a Lulu.
The other Group race on the card is at 2.55 in the shape of the Betfred Middleton Stakes over the same trip as the Dante. This race has also seen the withdrawal of the pre-race favourite So Mi Dar and that leaves the Sir Michael trained Queen’s Trust as even money jolly. This 4-y-o finished last season with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup but is unproven on soft ground and also has a penalty to shoulder. On balance, it’s worth a small bet on Johnny G’s other runner The Black Princess who is very much on the improve and is fairly priced at 9-4.
There are two distance handicaps on the card, the more valuable being the Betfred TV Hambleton Handicap at 4.05, in which 19 currently stand their ground.
Our suggestion for this 1 mile charge is the Andrew Balding trained Here Comes When, the mount of Oisin Murphy. This 7-y-o doesn’t run in handicaps very often, but is a dual Group 2 winner in the past and has become well in despite holding its form well last season. With the stable in good form and soft ground essential, a bit of the 12-1 available should be taken, each way.
Also in this race, it is imperative to have a e/w saver on dear old Top Notch Tonto, who is on a winnable mark, must have this ground and should be well ridden by Ben Curtis. Drawn slightly to the left of the car park, luck will have to be with us, but at 14-1 lets hope that TNT can run an explosive race. (Groan)
The last race on the card at 5.35 is a two-miler with the unpenalised Graceland a very skinny 3-1 after an apprentice handicap win at Ascot. This race looks different gravy, though, so we’ll take a punt on last season’s big improver Silva Eclipse at 12-1 e/w.
A tune up on the AW last season presaged winning three handicaps in a row on turf. This season, the horse has had a tune up on the AW……..well, you can guess the rest.