The highlight of day two of York’s May meeting is the Dante Stakes, which is, arguably, the last trial for the Derby at Epsom next month.
Unlike the colts’ trials at Chester last week legendary Irish handler Aidan O’Brien does not have a great record in the race and has not saddled the winner of this Group 2 prize since 2010. His leading representative James Cook has a bit to find with Crossed Baton on Epsom form from last month although this more conventional track will suit this well-bred colt.
Little doubt that Roaring Lion – fifth in the Guineas – has the best form on offer and you could argue his form at Newmarket should be upgraded, as he was isolated on the stands’ rail whilst the action was unfolding down the middle in the classic – but will he stay the additional quarter of a mile?
He is 2/1 at BetVictor and at those odds he is overlooked given his pedigree does suggest that a mile will be his optimum trip. I liked the way Nordic Lights (3.30) battled all the way to the line under a 7lbs penalty at Newmarket last time and the runner up has subsequently won at Nottingham whilst the third Argentello had excuses when beaten at Chester last time.
The unbeaten selection is 10/1 at BetVictor and might be one who saves his best for the track – he gets the each way vote.
The Middleton Stakes is the other Group race on the card and Ribblesdale Stakes (12f) winner Coronet is a fascinating contender dropping back to this extended 10f trip on her seasonal reappearance. She can be keen in her races, and might need an end-to-end gallop to be effective at this trip and I am going to take a chance on the mare Smart Call (2.55) one of two Sir Michael Stoute-trained runners in the field.
The 6-y-old finished third in this corresponding race last year on her first start for Sire Michael Stoute and has had a recent run on the all-weather over an insufficient test of stamina to blow away the cobwebs. The selection is 11/2 at BetVictor and is another each way recommendation.
As long as the ground is not lightning fast I hope to see Baraweez (4.05) defy a 3lbs penalty for scoring at Chester last week when a very cosy winner albeit from the plum draw in stall one. The selection likes a turning track but the hope is that this long straight will not inconvenience Brian Ellison’s eight-year-old.
The listed Sprint is a cracker and it will be fascinating to see if Hey Jonesy (4.35) is as effective over the minimum trip. Sound Of Silence carries a 5lbs penalty and has a bit to find with Ballydoyle’s Declarationofpeace on Breeders’ Cup and preference is for Roussel (4.35) who is the mount of William Buick for Charlie Appleby.
The selection finished runner in the Windsor Castle Stakes behind stablemate Sound Of Silence but he is taken to reverse the form on 5lbs better terms. Main Desire was a filly I thought might win the Queen Mary last season before she got injured at this corresponding meeting last term – it will be interesting to see what the market makes of her chance after a 12-month break.
The unbeaten Fayrouz Rose may not be overburdened from an opening mark of 85 in the valuable fillies’ handicap at Salisbury, but preference is for Time Change (2.40) who was slowly away but warmed to her task when third at Windsor on her reappearance. Richard Kingscote takes over in the saddle this afternoon.
At Perth this afternoon, I like the booking of Brian Hughes for Cooper’s Friend (5.15) who is very well treated on his best form. This is, arguably, last chance saloon for the 9-year-old although it might be worth noting that Hughes rode a 20/1 winner for the yard at Ayr earlier in the month.