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2019 Dante Stakes tips – 7/1 shot the one to side with in York’s key Derby Trial

Jonathan Vine 14 May 2019
Roaring Lion romping to victory in last year's Dante.

Our expert takes a look through the betting for the big Derby Trial at York on Thursday 16th May and provides readers with his tips.


Named after a famous former winner of the Derby, the Dante Stakes has become a vital trial for Epsom’s most famous Classic since it’s inception in 1958. St Paddy was the first of ten horses to complete the Dante, Derby double back in 1960, with Motivator and Golden Horn the most recent horses to achieve that fantastic feat.

Frankie Dettori and John Gosden will be hoping Too Darn Hot (6/4 bet365) can follow in Golden Horn’s footsteps when he makes his return at York on Thursday. Last year’s outstanding juvenile was due to run in the Greenham Stakes before taking part in the 2000 Guineas. Sadly, a minor injury setback ruled Too Darn Hot out of both races, forcing Gosden to point his talented charge at the Derby and last year's unbeaten Dewhurst winner will carry a short price into the Dante this week.

Despite not saddling the winner of the Dante since 2010, Aidan O’Brien will have high-hopes for Japan (7/2 Paddy Power), having rerouted his colt from the Derrinstown Stud Stakes to have a crack at Too Darn Hot. Japan’s two-year-old form may pale in comparison to his market rival’s, but the 2018 Beresford Stakes winner must have come on leaps and bounds over the summer to earn such a short price in the ante-post Derby betting, so he has to be regarded a serious contender.

There’s been a significant wave of support for Surfman (9/2 Unibet) since the start of the week and Roger Varian’s charge could be the unknown quantity in this year’s Dante. After scoring on his second two-year-old start in a modest race at Nottingham, Surfman faced little in the way of competition on his reappearance, carrying odds of 1/8 to a lengthy victory in a poor contest at Newcastle. 

Telecaster’s (11/2 Betfair) runner-up finish on debut was boosted after winner, Bangkok scored in Sandown’s Classic Trial. Hughie Morrison’s colt needed little encouragement in breaking his maiden tag at Windsor last time out and this son of New Approach could take the step up in class in his stride.

Charlie Appleby decided to bypass the Guineas with Derby hope Line Of Duty (7/1 Paddy Power), despite going down that route successfully with last year’s Epsom winner, Masar. Line Of Duty progressed fantastically last term, winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on his final two-year-old start and he could be perfectly suited by the galloping, turning track at York.

There’s then a sizeable gap in the betting before we reach Almania (20/1 Betfair), who got off the mark on his final juvenile start. Sir Michael Stoute’s decision to chose the Dante over the Lingfield Derby Trial has to be taken into account and the inform trainer wouldn't send one of his colts straight to a Derby Trial if he didn't think he could compete.
Nayef Road (20/1 Paddy Power) earned his spot in the Dante with a blistering handicap triumph under top-weight at Newmarket and Mark Johnston’s hardy colt has to be respected at a lengthy price. As does Karl Burke’s Kadar (25/1 Unibet), who should come on from that disappointing fourth in the Feliden Stakes and could take kindly to this extended trip.

The Burke’s have previous with outsiders in the Dante, with Karl’s wife Elaine – who used to head their training operation - saddling 33/1 shot Libertarian before his surprise victory in 2013. While that result would give hope to the likes of Kadar and Nayef Road, there are some very classy horses sitting at the top of the betting for this year's Dante and it’s hard to look beyond the leading protagonists.

By the great Kingman and out of Shimmering Surf – mother to Prix Vermeille winner Kitesurf and trained by Varian himself – it’s clear Surfman is bred to success at the highest level, but he has plenty of catching up to do in the form department. As does Japan and I’m not totally convinced he’s as good as the likes of Anthony Van Dyck, Broome and Sir Dragonet, who have all scored in other – albeit weaker – Derby Trials so far.

If Too Darn Hot is fully fit and gets the trip, he may simply be too good for his rivals at York. That being said, at no point last season did I feel the winner of the Dewhurst was crying out for trips beyond a mile and a setback early in a horse’s three-year-old campaign is far from ideal. So, with two big ifs hanging over the favourite and some question marks against those in behind, I’m hoping LINE OF DUTY will enforce his derby credentials with a powerful showing on the Knavesmire.

After being narrowly defeated by Arctic Sound and Great Scot, both now rated around the 110 mark, on his first two career starts, the step up to a mile brought around an upturn in fortunes for Line Of Duty. The Godolphin flag-bearer beat recent Lingfield Derby Trial runner-up, Pablo Escobar in a hot maiden at Goodwood, before comfortably seeing off future Group One winner, Wonderment in the nine-furlong Prix de Conde at Chantilly.

Unlike many of his fellow British raiders, Line Of Duty entered a favourable stall ahead of his outing in the Juvenile Turf. Appleby’s colt still had to do the business on the track and, under an excellent ride by William Buick, Line Of Duty did just that, swooping late to claim his first major Group One.

I have no doubts about Line Of Duty’s staying ability, he’s proven on all kinds of ground and he should relish the challenge posed by this historic course. I’ve already put up Line Of Duty as one of my selections in the Derby next month and a strong showing in the Dante would ensure those current, lengthy odds in the Derby are slashed significantly.




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2019 Dante Stakes tips – 7/1 shot the one to side with in York’s key Derby Trial

Our expert takes a look through the betting for the big Derby Trial at York on Thursday 16th May and provides readers with his tips.

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