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2018 Dante Stakes tips – 11/2 shot to help Johnston retain York crown

Jonathan Vine 16 May 2018
James Doyle riding Mildenberger (left) to victory in the Feilden Stakes on his reappearance at Newmarket.

Our expert takes a look through the betting for the Dante Stakes at York and provides readers with his tips.

York picks up where Chester left off last week and the headline contest during their spring meeting is the Dante Stakes on Thursday afternoon. Named after the winner of the 1945 Derby, the Dante has long been seen as a key trial for that Classic at Epsom. Ten horses have achieved the fabled Dante, Derby double over the years, the most recent being John Gosden’s Golden Horn three years ago.

In a bid to claim his third Dante in the last four years, Gosden is sending two of his top three-year-olds to York to battle it out in this Group Two. The market is currently headed by Roaring Lion (15/8 Boylesports), who’s rating has dropped by two pounds after beginning his Classic campaign with a couple of defeats.

Gosden was adamant Roaring Lion was only operating at 80% fitness as he was trounced in the Craven Stakes by Masar and he would come on from that performance in the 2000 Guineas. Oisin Murphy’s mount was forced to plough a lone furrow along the inside rails, but there’s no doubting he produced an improved performance to finish fifth and it’s likely Roaring Lion will improve again with the step up in distance.

Crossed Baton (7/2 BetVictor) sits closest to stablemate Roaring Lion in the betting and Frankie Dettori’s mount will travel to York looking to land a hat-trick of seasonal victories. A month after winning on his reappearance at Kempton, Crossed Baton produced a fine staying display to beat My Lord And Master – who went on to finish second in the Dee Stakes at Chester – in the same Derby Trial won by Cracksman last season. 

Permian claimed a surprise victory in last season’s Dante for the team of Mark Johnston and Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum. They will be hoping Mildenberger (11/2 Boylesports) can follow in his ill-fated stablemate’s footsteps and claim a second victory of the season at York. Kew Garden’s was the firm-favourite to win the Feilden Stakes at Newmarket, but it was Mildenberger who established himself as a Derby contender, shaping impressively during a half-length victory over Fortune’s Pearl and he looks open to progression over this longer trip.

Tim Easterby has never won the Dante and he’s handed Wells Farhh Go (8/1 Paddy Power) a speculative entry in Thursday’s main event. Both of his two-year-old appearances came here on the Knavesmire, with David Allen guiding his mount to victories in a novice contest and the Acomb Stakes. This will be the first time Wells Farhh Go has stepped up to 10 furlongs - a trip his sire managed to win over just once in four attempts.

Cape Blanco was the last of Aidan O’Brien’s four Dante winners, but the Ballydoyle maestro won’t be particularly confident either of his entries will be able to end his eight-year wait for a fifth victory. James Cook (8/1 BetVictor) finished a three-and-a-half length fourth as Crossed Baton scored in the Derby Trial at Epsom, with Zabriskie (33/1 Boylesports) trailing over the line a further length behind in sixth. No Ballydoyle runner can ever be discounted, but there are plenty of others in the betting who hold much stronger appeal.

Roaring Lion (right) beating Nelson (left) and Mildenberger (second left) in The Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes.

Charlie Appleby’s ranks were flying heading into the May Festival at Chester, but none of his Godolphin flag-bearers managed to impress on the big stage. Nordic Lights (10/1 Paddy Power) is unbeaten in two starts and is a proven stayer over this trip, but this will be quite a leap in class and it’s hard to say whether he will cope.

White Mocha’s (14/1 BetVictor) two-year-old form was boosted when Knight To Behold – who was a half-length runner-up when Hugo Palmer’s charge won a Ten Plus race at Newbury – stormed to victory in the Derby Trial at Lingfield. Jim Crowley’s mount overtook a flagging Roaring Lion on the run to the line in the Craven last time out, but it would be a surprise if those placings weren’t reversed on the Knavesmire.

Merlin Magic (16/1 Boylesports) has Group One experience under his belt – having finished ninth behind Saxon Warrior in the Racing Post Trophy – and travels to York on the back of an excellent three-length triumph in the Esher Cup. The Camelot colt ended his race really strongly last time and his breeding suggests a step-up in trip will suit. 

Merlin Magic offers good each-way value at his current price, but the winner of this year’s Dante is likely to come from one of the runners near the head of the betting.

The only time Crossed Baton has been defeated, he finished sixth as Roaring Lion won on debut at Newmarket. The stablemates finished six lengths apart that day and, considering Roaring Lion has made more progress since, it’s hard to see how Crossed Baton can bridge that sizeable gap.

I’m really interested to see how Roaring Lion copes with this extended trip and a victory will thrust him back into Derby reckoning. However, I was extremely taken with MILDENBERGER’S display in the Feilden Stakes and Mark Johnston’s charge offers excellent value at his current price.

I backed Mildenberger throughout his two-year-old campaign, during which time he won three of his five starts, finishing third in the Vintage Stakes and behind Roaring Lion in the Royal Lodge Stakes. James Doyle’s mount travelled extremely comfortably during his reappearance, taking the nine-furlong trip in his stride and comfortably seeing off Fortune’s Pearl to get the win. 

By Teofilo and out of a dam sired by Dubawi, there’s plenty to like about Mildenberger’s breeding as he steps up to a mile-and-a-quarter. His maiden victory came on good-to-firm ground and James Doyle is one of the in-form jockeys in the weighing room at the moment. 

Ten furlongs is new ground for both Mildenberger and Roaring Lion, so there’s a chance those Royal Lodge placings could be reversed. Mildenberger has every chance of emulating Permian and helping Johnston lift the Dante Stakes trophy for the second successive season.

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2018 Dante Stakes tips – 11/2 shot to help Johnston retain York crown

Our expert takes a look through the betting for the Dante Stakes at York and provides readers with his tips for Thursday 17th May.

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