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2018 York Dante Festival meeting tips - Race-by-race selections for day one on the Knavesmire

Brian Healy 15 May 2018
York hosts the first of three days' top-class horse racing action on Wednesday with the start of the Dante Festival.

Brian Healy gives his race-by-race selections and best bets for the opening day of the Dante Festival meeting at York.


Hard on the heels of Chester’s May Festival, Wednesday sees the opening day of the three-day York Dante Festival go to post where punters will be hoping for more Classic clues over the course of the week.

Day one is headlined by the Group Two Clipper Logistics Stakes, while the Group Three Musidora Stakes provides some classy support to the seven-race card which gets underway from 2.20pm.

2:20 - Sky Bet First Race Special Jorvik Handicap Cl2 (4yo+) 1m4f ITV4
2:55 - Infinity Tyres Handicap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-105) 6f ITV4
3:30 - Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes (Group 2) Cl1 (3yo+) 6f ITV4
4:05 - Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (Group 3) (Fillies) Cl1 (3yo) 1m2½f ITV4
4:35 - Conundrum HR Consulting Handicap Cl3 (3yo 0-95) 7f RUK
5:05 - British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes (Plus 10 Race) Cl3 (2yo) 5f RUK
5:35 - Oaks Farm Stables Handicap Cl4 (4yo+ 0-85) 1m4f RUK 

Ed Chamberlain and the ITV Racing team will be on hand to bring armchair punters the best of the day’s action with four races live from the Knavesmire, and Brian Healy gives his day one selections for what promises to be a cracking afternoon of racing action.

2:20 - Sky Bet First Race Special Jorvik Handicap Cl2 (4yo+) 1m4f ITV4


Charlie Appleby’s string are in blistering form, and HAMADA (9/4, Coral) can strike again having returned from a lengthy absence to score at Wolverhampton last month.

A promising juvenile who found only Atty Persse too strong at Sandown, the Cape Cross gelding stepped up on that effort to open his account at Pontefract next time, appreciative of the additional yardage when posting an impressive six lengths success over Avantgardist.

Although he missed the entirety of the following season, he showed no adverse effects from his layoff to score readily over Be Perfect on his return where he beat a subsequent winner. This is tougher stepping up in grade on just his second start in a handicap; but he may have got in lightly here, and with the yard continuing in terrific form, he gets the vote to win again and land a hat-trick of successes. 

2:55 - Infinity Tyres Handicap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-105) 6f ITV4


This is always a hugely competitive contest, and the thriving FOOLAAD (12/1, Ladbrokes) can continue his steep upward curve to win again.

Stuart Bowring’s Exceed and Excel gelding has won his last five starts, four of which came on the all-weather at Southwell; but he showed he is a very capable sort on turf when beating El Astronaute at Pontefract last month, scoring by a head with Orion’s Bow back in third.

A further 4lbs rise in the weights makes life tougher for the seven-year old, but he is clearly on good terms with himself at present and he is 3-3 under Robert Winston who again is in the saddle. He has quicker ground to contend with here, but he struck at Thirsk last term on similar conditions over this trip so ground needn’t be a factor.

He was giving 6lbs to Orion’s Bow in that win, and that one can be fancied to turn the tables with the run under his belt and a further 5lbs better off at the weights; but there could still be better to come from the Bowring runner, and he can give another good account in his bid for another success.

3:30 - Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes (Group 2) Cl1 (3yo+) 6f ITV4


Brando showed the benefit of a wind operation to win a strong renewal of the Abernant Stakes, and Kevin Ryan’s charge will be fancied to go well; but he was tailed off in this race twelve months ago behind Tasleet, and he has never won on the Knavesmire.

Tasleet won this race twelve months ago, but he has twice been beaten behind HARRY ANGEL (4/5, Ladbrokes) although William Haggas’ charge did finish ahead of the selection when the pair clashed in the Champion Sprint at Ascot.

However, Clive Cox’s charge could turn the tables here, and the Dark Angel colt achieved plenty last term given he was only a three-year old, winning the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock and the July Cup at Newmarket either side of a solid effort behind Caravaggio in the Commonwealth Cup.

Despite reservations about heavy ground, Cox’s star beat off Tasleet to win the Haydock Sprint Cup, after which he ran well in defeat behind that rival in the Champion Sprint, where Librisa Breeze caused something of an upset by winning.

Better ground on his seasonal debut could well see the Dark Angel colt bounce back to winning form, and he could prove a tough nut to crack in this contest if fully wound up. His stable is in good form at present, and while there is a chance he may need the run under his Group One penalty, he has 9lbs in hand on official ratings and he can successfully give away the weight to his rivals. 

4:05 - Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (Group 3) (Fillies) Cl1 (3yo) 1m2½f ITV4


HIGHGARDEN (11/4, Paddy Power) spoilt her chance of a winning return to action when running far too keenly for her own good at Sandown last month. But the run ought to have brought her on considerably and John Gosden’s Nathaniel filly can get back on the scoresheet here.

A debut winner, scoring at Newbury in the mud last October with a defeat of Spirit Of Appin, she looked in need of further so it was no surprise to see her stepped up in trip for her return. She ran better than the bare form, racing with exuberance but possibly doing too much and she could only find one pace.

But she may have needed the run, and she could fare a good deal better now with the run under her belt. Entries in the Epsom Oaks, Ribblesdale and Irish Oaks suggest she is well regarded at Clarehaven, and she ought to give a good account of herself.

4:35 - Conundrum HR Consulting Handicap Cl3 (3yo 0-95) 7f RUK


THREE SAINTS BAY (10/1, Paddy Power) showed progressive form as a juvenile last term, scoring at Redcar in October amid several in the frame efforts.

David O’Meara’s charge beat Tamkeen by just over one length on that occasion, and the Kodiac gelding appeared to win a shade readily. With the fourth and fifth horses home both winning since, the form looks solid, and although beaten at Newcastle next time he made a winning return from six months off to beat Bella Ferrari at Pontefract last month.

He has been left alone by the handicapper, and he ought to give another good account of himself with this faster ground no issue.

5:05 - British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes (Plus 10 Race) Cl3 (2yo) 5f RUK


Several interesting runners go to post in this contest, with three previous winners taking on some newcomers from powerful yards.

LEOUBE (7/1, Ladbrokes) is taken to make a winning debut given the form of the Richard Hannon stable, and the Kodiac filly can give a good account, although we may not see the best of her until she tackles longer trips given her breeding.

Her dam was French-bred and a useful sort at up to ten furlongs, while the damsire was Great Journey, who also sired Max Dynamite so there is stamina in her line. 

Hannon’s runners are showing almost £50 profit to £1 so are clearly in good heart, and Andrea Atzeni who will ride the filly on Wednesday has a 21% strike rate in the last two weeks. While this will be an informative contest, and perhaps one to watch, she can give a give account of herself.

5:35 - Oaks Farm Stables Handicap Cl4 (4yo+ 0-85) 1m4f RUK 


SKY EAGLE (9/1, Ladbrokes) could be worth chancing on his return to turf, having shown progressive form on the all-weather where he struck at Kempton in November, and he made a winning return from a break at Wolverhampton last month with a defeat of Agent Gibbs.

Ed Walker’s Lope De Vega colt showed fair form on turf last term without winning, and softer ground possibly didn’t suit; better ground here could prove a catalyst for improvement, and he showed a willing attitude to double up his win tally on his latest outing. 

This is a tougher contest than the one he won last time, and reverting to turf where he takes on some potential improvers, he will need to find a jolt of improvement himself; but he is going the right way and while he has more to do from 7lbs higher back on turf, he could still have more to offer given he remains relatively unexposed.

2017 YORK DANTE FESTIVAL MEETING TIPS - RACE-BY-RACE SELECTIONS


2:20 - HAMADA (9/4, Coral)

2:55 - FOOLAAD (12/1, Ladbrokes)

3:30 - HARRY ANGEL (4/5, Ladbrokes)

4:05 - HIGHGARDEN (11/4, Paddy Power)

4:35 - THREE SAINTS BAY (10/1, Paddy Power)

5:05 - LEOUBE (7/1, Ladbrokes)

5:35 - SKY EAGLE (9/1, Ladbrokes)

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2018 York Dante Festival meeting tips - Race-by-race selections for day one on the Knavesmire

Brian Healy gives his race-by-race selections and best bets for the opening day of the Dante Festival meeting at York.

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