We concentrate on the Knavesmire York for the next three days with the York Dante Festival very much taking centre stage in the world of horse racing. Left-handed and 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 and all being well the weather looks set fair so no random going changes hopefully.
Day one looks really competitive with a couple of proper puzzler handicaps on the card alongside the Pattern races. My fancies for the day follow.
Best bets for Day One of the York Dante Festival
They get underway at 1.50 with one of those puzzle handicaps the 1m3½f Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Jorvik Handicap. One of my Dirt Dozen lines up here in the shape of La Yakel. The gelding begins the year as a lightly raced four-year-old, he didn’t see a racecourse until he was three, and surely has more to offer this season. After a couple of runs over a mile he stepped up to 1m3f to win at Southwell before taking a decent handicap over 1m4f at Ascot in September and finished his campaign last season with a fourth-placed effort in the Old Rowley Cup Handicap at HQ. I am sure he is going to leave his rating of 92 behind this season and have a bit of the 3-1 this morning about him getting 2023 off to a winning start. I will be watching Scampi with interest as he is a Raceshare horse; I have share in Treasure Time with them. It is noted that Oisin Murphy has chosen, I assume, to ride White Wolf.
The second race of interest to me is the 6f Group Two 1895 Duke Of York Clipper Stakes Stakes at 3.00. Last year's winner Highfield Princess has to give weight away to her rivals on her seasonal reappearance under race conditions and hasn’t always been seen at her best fresh. She did of course rack-up an international hat-trick of G.1 sprints last season taking the 6½f Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville, 5f Nunthorpe here at York and the Flying Five at the Curragh so has to be shortlisted. Marshman gets the allowances as a three-year-old colt in the field and strictly on OR’s that gives him a chance with just 9-1 to carry. He won a G.3 out in France last month so appears fit and well and the yard of Karl Burke has made a fair start to the season so there is a lot to like about his chances. Astrologist is up from the land down under arriving via a second placed finish in the 6f G.1 Al Quoz Sprint at the Dubai Carnival. That was a bit of a messy race though and the bare facts may flatter him a bit. Dirty Dozen member Creative Force is out again very quickly following a victory at Haydock on Saturday (tipped on here). Talking on the Godolphin website earlier this week Charlie Appleby said “Creative Force enjoyed himself at Haydock in a race that rode like a piece of work for him. He was bucking and kicking on Monday morning, while we feel conditions at York could suit him again. We will keep an eye on him ahead of the race and, if we continue to be happy with him, he will be good to go.” Well he is here and certainly has the form in the book to suggest he can take this prize. The colt finished ahead of Highfield Princess in the G.1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint and G.1 Platinum Jubilee Stakes last year giving her the mares allowance on both occasions so is 5lb better off with her here. I have taken the 3-1 that's available in places overnight.The big trial race on Wednesday is the 1m2½f Group Three Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at 3.35. The Musidora has been a decent pointer for the Oaks at Epsom in recent years with Snowfall in 2021 the most recent winner to go on to Oaks glory and last years winner Emily Upjohn missing out at Epsom by the width of a fag paper. Infinite Cosmos went to the head of ante-post markets for next month’sOaks following an impressive success on her first appearance at three down at Newmarket earlier this month. Ryan Moore was onboard there but Richard Kingscote gets the leg-up today with Moors on Ballydoyle raider Lambada. It’s hard to know what she beat but she done it well enough. Lambada had a nightmare on her debut last season but ran with credit when third over 7f at Leopardstown last back end in a maiden. She made her three-year-old debut at Gowran Park last month over 1m1½f looking to enjoy the step-up in trip winning comfortably. Unsurprisingly she is well-bred but slightly out of the norm for Ballydoyle being by Dubawi. She is out of Wading, a winning mare over 7f including the G.2 Rockfel Stakes in her racing days for O’Brien, who has produced five foals, all winners. Her dam is Cherry Hinton who has produced a number of winners for Ballydoyle herself and ij turn is out of blue hen Urban Sea! At 9-1 with Power overnight I have taken a chance on the Ballydoyle raider as on pedigree you’d expect her to be above average and surely the lads haven't sent her over just for a day out.