Day 1 didn’t disappoint when it came to top drawer action at this year’s Dante Festival and it’s looks to get even better on Day 2..
Starting off with another extremely competitive affair in the 2.20 Class 2 5 furlong contest and the first one that I like as an each way selection is Soie D’Leau (11/1) for Kristin Stubbs and Tony Hamiton. I’m a big fan of this one and backed him when he won a big Doncaster handicap last year at big odds, he made a decent reappearance at Newbury last time out which should stand him in decent stead for another good showing here. Another one I like as an each way shout here is Fast Act (9/1) for Kevin Ryan and Joe Doyle, he’s won his last two and hasn’t been too harsh treated with a 5 pound rise and might just make a bold bid to get into the frame again here.
Next up the 2.55 is the Group 2 Middleton Stakes, it’s looks a cracking renewal and I can see the market leader So Mi Dar (Evens) being difficult to beat here for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori, she won the Musidora over course and distance here last year easily and went on to take a listed contest on a return from injury and was third in a Group 1 at Chantilly. She’s certainly the one to beat however her main rival looks to be Queens Trust for Sir Michael Stoute and Ryan Moore. This one won the Group 1 Fillies & Mares Turf at the Breeders Cup last year before finishing in the frame in three Group 1 contests before that. All of those were on ground no worse than good however but she looks to certain to serve it up to the market leader here. The Black Princess (11/2) could be the best chance for value, winner of a Group 3 last time out on reapparance in seems to be progressing nicely.
The next the 3.30 is the feature and the Group 2 Dante Stakes itself. Won the last two years by John Gosden with last year Wings Of Desire and 2015 with arguably my favourite flat horse in the mighty Golden Horn. And it’s a horse that will carry the same colours as Golden Horn that looks the one to beat here in Cracksman (11/4) for John Gosden. It’s currently up in the air to whether he’ll run or not due to the heavy rain that’s come down but if he does turn up he’ll be hard to beat, he didn’t look all that impressive when winning last time out but he will of come on massively from that run. One of the big derby gambles is next in the market in Crystal Ocean for Sir Michael Stoute and a big run is certainly expected of him as is from Joseph O’Brien’s Rekindling. One I do like as an each way chance is Benbatl (7/1) for Saeed Bin Surror and Pat Cosgrave. I was there when he won well on his debut at Doncaster and he followed it up with a good third in a Group 3 at Newmarket at the Craven Meeting, looks to have more progression in him.
4.05 is the listed Hambleton Handicap over a mile and it’s another fiercely competitive affair with not much separating any of them in the market. There’s several I could make a case for here and I really like Thikriyaat for Sir Michael Stoute and Jim Crowley but the ground looks to be a major concern, it’s not saying that he can’t go close because he is a classy customer on his day but a couple i’d be willing to take a few each way chances on is firstly Top Notch Tonto (14/1) for Brian Ellison, he isn’t the horse he once was but is a course and distance winner and loves a slow surface which will play to his benefit. He was a decent fourth last time out at Haydock too. The next one is Here Comes When (14/1) for Andrew Balding and Oisin Murphy, he wasn’t great last year but he’s off a decent mark here. He also loves the rain and goes well at the beginning of the season so could certainly put in a bold bid to get into the frame.