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2019 York Dante Festival meeting tips - Race-by-race selections for day two of York's top-class May feature fixture

Brian Healy 15 May 2019
York are racing on Thursday with the second day of their Dante Festival meeting.

Brian Healy takes a race-by-race look ahead to Thursday's second day racecard of the 2019 York Dante Festival meeting, and he gives his selections in every race on a top-class afternoon on the Knavesmire.

Thursday’s fixture list of horse racing action is dominated by the second day of the York Dante Festival meeting, and another cracking seven-race card awaits punters following some exhilarating action on the Knavesmire on day one.

The feature race of the afternoon is the eponymously-titled Group Two Dante Stakes, which could throw up a clue towards the Epsom Derby in just a couple of weeks; while the Group Two Middleton Stakes also features on a quality afternoon of flat racing action.

1:50 - Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-105) 5f
2:25 - Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies' Stakes (Group 2) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m2½f
3:00 - Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes (Group 2) Cl1 (3yo) 1m2½f
3:35 - Matchbook Betting Podcast Hambleton Handicap Cl2 (4yo+) 1m
4:05 - British Stallion Studs EBF Westow Stakes (Listed Race) Cl1 (3yo) 5f
4:35 - Stratford Place Stud Breeds Group Winners ebfstallions.com Maiden Stakes (Plus 10 Race) Cl2 (2yo) 6f
5:05 - Investec Wealth Handicap Cl3 (4yo+ 0-90) 2m½f

Ed Chamberlain and the team will be on hand again to cover the pick of the day’s action from York, and they will have all their usual expert tips, insights and post-race analysis; while Brian Healy takes a race-by-race look at Thursday’s day two racecard where he has race-by-race selections.

1:50 - Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-105) 5f


A competitive handicap sprint contest kicks off day two of the York Dante Festival meeting, and COPPER KNIGHT (12/1, William Hill) could be the one to keep onside in this big-field contest.

Tim Easterby’s Sir Prancealot gelding disappointed in this race twelve months ago, but he might have needed the return and he went on to win three times last term which included a win at this venue in October where he beat Camacho Chief.

He remained competitive and made the frame in subsequent outings at Catterick and Doncaster prior to getting back on the winning trail at Nottingham with a win over Terentum Star; and he has looked as good as ever this term, returning from a break to finish fourth to Saaheq in the Scottish Sprint Cup, and building on that run to go down only by a length at Chester last week behind Merhoob.

The five-year old normally reads a run or two to put him spot on, and having been beaten on his first two starts last term he struck at the third attempt, so he could follow suit here on the back of a pair of defeats.

Twice a winner here, he possibly doesn’t have much manoeuvring scope from this mark; but he ought to remain competitive nonetheless, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him posting a big run given he is a generally consistent performer.

2:25 - Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies' Stakes (Group 2) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m2½f


This looks a decent opportunity for LAH TI DAR (4/7, Coral) to get back on the winning trail, and John Gosden’s charge ought to take plenty of beating if near her best.

The Dubawi filly won her first three starts last term either side of an injury break which robbed her of a chance at Classic glory in the Oaks. Two of those wins were at Listed level, easily beating Light Of Joy on the second occasion to score by ten lengths, and she found only the tough Kew Gardens too strong in the St Leger, beaten two lengths.

There wasn’t a great deal wrong with her subsequent third behind Magical in the Champion Fillies’ & Mares’ Stakes, at Ascot, beaten less than two lengths into third where she was probably unsuited by the softer ground, and that form has been franked by the winner since.

With a better surface to contend with here, she can cope with the drop back to ten furlongs and she is likely to prove a tough nut to crack. She can get back on the scoresheet here.


3:00 - Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes (Group 2) Cl1 (3yo) 1m2½f


A cracking renewal of this prize sees Too Darn Hot put his unbeaten record on the line, and John Gosden’s classy star looks the one to beat; but Aidan O’Brien could be the one to end the streak with his JAPAN (4/1, Paddy Power) who looked a high-class performer last term, winning two of his three starts, and the Galileo colt is open to plenty of improvement.

In need of the run at the Curragh on his debut, he stepped up on that performance to register back-to-back wins at Listowel and Naas, the latter of which came when beating Mount Everest by a short-head to win the Group Two Beresford Stakes.

That form is decent although it falls below that of a few of these rivals; but he very much looked in that success as if a stiffer test of stamina would suit, and stepping up to ten furlongs here could unlock significant improvement on his return to action.

He will need to progress if he is lower the colours of the unbeaten Gosden runner who is 4-4; but like the selection she has to prove stamina for this longer trip, and Aidan O’Brien’s charge looks more stoutly bred to see out this extra distance. 

A big run by the Galileo colt wouldn’t come as a surprise, and with the longer trip a potential source of improvement he gets the vote to come out on top here.

3:35 - Matchbook Betting Podcast Hambleton Handicap Cl2 (4yo+) 1m


LEDHAM (8/1, William Hill) was a progressive sort last term, only once finishing outside the first three - on debut - and winning twice on the all-weather at Wolverhampton and Kempton.

Sir Michael Stoute’s charge rounded off a solid campaign with a two lengths’ third-place finish behind Argentello at Kempton in October, and the son of Shamardal made a very pleasing return to action at Haydock last month where he found only the smart Mordin too strong in the soft ground.

Given that was his first run of the season, he can be expected to be sharper now and many of the Stoute team usually step up well following a first run back; while this better ground could see him show up well in a competitive handicap contest.

The handicapper has only pushed him up 1lb in the weights following that runner-up effort, which looks lenient given he remains open to plenty of improvement on the back of his reappearance effort, and sure to progress further he can go close here under Ryan Moore.


4:05 - British Stallion Studs EBF Westow Stakes (Listed Race) Cl1 (3yo) 5f


Despite giving away a race-fitness advantage and a minimum of 5lbs to this field of rivals, SOLDIER’S CALL (15/8, Bet365) looks hard to oppose making his return to action, and Archie Watson’s charge should take plenty of beating if near to his best.

The Showcasing colt progressed hand over fist last term, winning four times in all which included a defeat of Well Done Fox to land the Group Two Flying Childers at Doncaster in September.

Subsequently far from disgraced behind Mabs Cross in the Prix De L’Abbaye, finishing just a neck third in that Group One contest, he posted a highly creditable sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint when last seen out at Churchill Downs in November, and he sets a stiff standard on those runs.

Assuming he returns to action fit and ready to race at the first time of asking then he ought to be hard to beat, and given his shrewd yard will have left no stones unturned in his preparation ahead of his reappearance then he is unlikely to be found wanting for fitness.

He can continue his progressive form this term, and he looks a sprinter to keep on the right side of with the potential for better still to come.


4:35 - Stratford Place Stud Breeds Group Winners ebfstallions.com Maiden Stakes (Plus 10 Race) Cl2 (2yo) 6f


A few of these have already gained some valuable experience, but it could be worth chancing again on a Godolphin newcomer and STORY OF LIGHT (2/1, Bet365) could provide Charlie Appleby with another debutant winner.

The Dark Angel colt represents a yard that is operating at a near 30% strike-rate, and Team Appleby are 4-7 this season with juvenile newcomers so there is strong reason to be optimistic that this well-bred youngster could enhance that record.

Those that have had the benefit of a previous outing don’t set the bar particularly high, so siding with one of the unraced entrants could be the way to go, and the Godolphin runner certainly catches the eye as a potential first-time up winner.

He has to be respected given the yard’s excellent record in this sphere, and he could prove to be a useful performer.

5:05 - Investec Wealth Handicap Cl3 (4yo+ 0-90) 2m½f


OCTOBER STORM (13/2, William Hill) scored his last career win at this venue back in October 2017, beating Arrowtown by a short-head, and Mick Channon’s charge looks worth chancing to get back on the scoresheet following a highly encouraging return to action at Doncaster last month.

The Shirocco gelding raced just three times last term, acquitting himself well on all occasions and he wasn’t beaten far in any of his runs. He rounded off the season being beaten less than two lengths behind Waiting For Richie in this race twelve months ago, and he reappeared at Doncaster in April to go down by less than a length behind Handiwork.

He ought to be sharper for that reappearance, and he can compete here from the same mark as he did twelve months ago. A repeat effort ought to keep him competitive again, and he could give the yard a much needed shot in the arm given they have been quiet of late.

Proven course and distance form can often be a big plus, and there appears no reason why he should remain competitive off this mark if building on that recent return effort.


2019 YORK DANTE FESTIVAL MEETING TIPS - DAY TWO SELECTIONS


1:50 - COPPER KNIGHT (12/1, William Hill)

2:25 - LAH TI DAR (4/7, Coral)

3:00 - JAPAN (4/1, Paddy Power)

3:35 - LEDHAM (8/1, William Hill)

4:05 - SOLDIER’S CALL (15/8, Bet365)

4:35 - STORY OF LIGHT (2/1, Bet365)

5:05 - OCTOBER STORM (13/2, William Hill)


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2019 York Dante Festival meeting tips - Race-by-race selections for day two of York's top-class May feature fixture

Brian Healy takes a race-by-race look ahead to Thursday's second day racecard of the 2019 York Dante Festival meeting, and he gives his selections in every race on a top-class afternoon on the Knavesmire.

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