York Dante Festival – Day 1

The Dante Festival kicks off at York this week and all eyes will be on potential Derby winners as this is season as one of the last stops before Epsom to show whether a horse is ready for the big one or not. Some very tough races tomorrow to look for a bit of each way value….

The first race of the meeting is the 2.20 Class 2 Handicap over 1m 2f. It’s a very competitive affair of which you could make a case for the majority of them here. The first one I think has a chance of making the frame is Al Neksh (9/1) for William Haggas and Frankie Dettori. He won a few small field handicaps as well as his maiden and has always been thought of in high regards by connections, he hasn’t however had a start yet this season and hasn’t raced on anything softer than good but if he does find his best form he could be at a decent price as an each way selection. One that has joined the frame here for me with the forecast looking like rain is Speed Company (12/1) for John Quinn and Ryan Moore who is known for acting on soft ground. He made a decent reappearance when finishing fifth of eleven at Epsom and despite requiring more here he certainly could make a bold bid to get into the frame. A final each way selection you could perhaps consider is Erik The Red (12/1) for Kevin Ryan. He also acts on Good to Soft ground and was placed in this contest last season.

The 3.30 is the Group 2 Duke Of York stakes and is a cracking contest filled with talent. The market leader here Brando (11/4) I think is going to be very hard to beat, he was hugely progressive last year winning the Ayr Gold Cup off a big mark before finishing third in a Group 1 on Champions Day at Ascot. He won well on his reappearance last month when taking a Group 3 contest at Newmarket an acts on all sorts of ground. Tom Eaves takes the ride on Kevin Ryan’s charge. I’ve always been a big fan of Magical Memory and i’m pretty certain i’ve backed him on his every run for Charlie Hills and Frankie Dettori he goes well fresh and has won on good to soft before. One for some each way value could be Growl (14/1) for Richard Fahey and Graham Lee, you could put a line through his last run in Hong Kong as he faced a mammoth task from a wide draw but he did finish second in between The Tin Man and Brando at Ascot in a Group 1 and he’s the best in out of the three here, he also acts on a mixture of different surfaces.

The 4.05 is the Group 3 Musidora Stakes and is headed by a filly that is going to be extremely hard to beat here for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori in Shutter Speed (4/9). She won well on her return to action this season at Newbury and that form has been boosted with third place that day Enable coming out and winning well at Chester last time out. I certainly think she’ll be taking this contest as preparation on her way to the Oaks. Vociferous Marina the Irish raider looks to be the main threat to the favourite here coming here on the back of a win in a Listed contest in Navan last time out.

4.35 is a Class 3 7 furlong contest and at the top of the market here is yet another John Gosden charge that is going to be difficult to beat in Chessman (9/4). He was only beaten a neck on his reappearance at Newbury last time out of which several in that race has gone out and won since giving the form a huge boost. He’s up 3 pound and certainly looks to have a strong chance, William Buick is on board. Looking for decent each way selections here one that takes the eye is Starlight Romance (12/1) for Richard Fahey and Sammy Jo Bell. He won his reappearance well and the horse he beat that day has won since, he also acts on soft ground which could make him a big player at a big price. Another one of Richard Fahey’s that I like as an each way shout is Senator (16/1) he won his first two outings before a disappointing effort in a Listed contest at Doncaster last year. He’s another Frankel offspring and could put in a big run if bouncing back for a yard that has a decent record in this.

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