The Guineas are still fresh in the memory and the dust has hardly settled on the Chester Boodles May Festival but at this time of year the Flat season is relentless. This week we find ourselves in Yorkshire on the Knavesmire with the spotlight on York Racecourse and the three-day Dante Festival. No spectators still of course but ITV4 are trackside for all three days as well as coverage on Racing TV.
Left-handed a pretty flat York is considered a fair course with powerful gallopers perhaps at an advantage on its wide track and sweeping turns. The run-in is just short of 5f so you shouldn’t see too many hard luck stories. It can become very testing when the ground gets soft and the forecast suggests, likes most of the UK, they are due some more rain this week yet.
Day one looks really competitive with a couple of proper puzzler handicaps on the card alongside the Pattern races. My fancies the day follow.
Best bets for day one of the York Dante Festival
First race I am having a go in is the 2.40 6f Group Two Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes. Some well-known sprinters were entered up for this and it remains a very good line-up with several in with chances. Following a trip to Saudi Arabia for the Riyadh Dirt Sprint where he finished down the field Oxted was beaten into second by David O’Meara’s Summerghand in the G.3 Abernant Stakes last time and the pair meet again here. Starman and Molatham making their seasonal debuts are other to consider along with Final Song who arrives off the back of a campaign in Dubai. For me though Tim Easterby’s Art Power is the one. I think the four-year-old could have a big season ahead after the progress he made last year. He was a member of my Dirty Dozen last season and I have backed him more than once in the past. Was running well at the top-level at the back end of last year and as a relatively lightly raced four-year-old he should have more to come yet. Soft underhoof conditions hold no fears and I have the 7-2 I took on Monday evening.
At 3.10 it is the 1m2½f Group Three Tattersalls Musidora Stakes. Seen as a trial for the Oaks at Epsom six winners of this race have gone on and triumphed in the Oaks the last being Sariska in 2009. Listed Pretty Polly winner Mystery Angel sets the standard on form but I can see at least one of this field proving better than her. We have two very well-bred unexposed types lining-up. Teona left the opposition trailing in a 1m2f maiden at Newcastle on the Tapeta last back end and went into many notebooks. It was a pretty average mob that she beat and bar a couple of handicap wins the form on paper aint that strong. The same can be said of the two wins against the name of Noon Star as well, she won well at Wetherby last month and has the fitness edge after that run; Loving Dream didn’t exactly frank the form in the Listed Novibet Oaks Trial at the weekend. They have both won well and you can ask no more than that so it comes down to which one impressed you most. Teona was very impressive if still green winning at Newcastle in November, she certainly didn’t take a couple of the bends particularly well which is a slight but you do have the nice long run-in here and she flew passed the opposition on the straight up at Geordieland with little effort it appeared. 11-8 is plenty short enough but she does look a very good prospect and I took that late on Monday with BetVictor.
A race where it may well pay to have the notebook close to hand with some potentially decent types lining-up is the 4.15 5f British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes. The unraced grey colt Jadhlaan interests me most. By Dark Angel, that top-class 2-y-o and leading sire of sprinters, out of Mile Listed winner Muteela (Dansili) the colt catches the eye on breeding - half-brother Mutazawwed was a winner at two. A number of these are of course bred for the job but this one should be a very good two-year-old indeed and you would expect Johnston to have his charge ready to go on debut. Unsurprisingly no one has priced-up as I write so I will be shopping around for the best price about the grey when they do.