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The Dante Stakes preview

Great start to the Damte meeting, despite the persistent rain, with yesterday's preview landing a fantastic double-figure odds winner.

Thursday means a focus on the eponymous race of the week, the highest regarded of the Derby trials, the Dante Stakes. Returning to the blog to weigh in with his assessment is international racing aficionado and racecalling prodigy Luke Humphreys, @WorldRacingLuke.


Betfred Dante Stakes
Group 2, £185,700, 1m2f56y
York 1530 local, 0030 AEST


1 Benbatl (7/1): Saeed Bin Suroor was quoted saying in the past couple of days this horse will enjoy the rain over the past few days. Easy winner on debut by seven lengths at Doncaster on Good ground over 7f in a maiden and then went up to G3 class for the Craven Stakes over a mile at Newmarket and was 3rd behind Eminent and Rivet, who have since run respectably in both the Newmarket and French Guineas. Expected to enjoy step up in trip.

2 Contrapposto (40/1): Stayed on well in closing stages of the Craven, one place behind Benbatl and looks ready for a step up in distance on that run, shocked Benbatl is 7/1 and this one is 40/1. Only win was on Good to Soft at Nottingham so ground will be fine. Best outsider.

3 Cracksman (11/4): Personally a huge fan of this horse. Frankel colt that is two for two and won the Derby Trial at the Derby Course last time in the last stride. Now he got there in the last stride and he not of done that it would be interesting to see what odds he’d be in this particular race however at the end of the day he did get up in good fashion after being tardy away. He was a bit disorganized when the pace went from slow to fast in 100 yards but he knuckled down really hard and it was a top win in good closing sectionals. People are comparing him to Golden Horn, a lot of water to go under the bridge until he is close to him but like Golden Horn was at this time two years ago, he is unbeaten however unlike Golden Horn there are no doubts about his stamina, of cause Golden Horn won this two years ago but was only rerouted to Epsom at the eleventh hour from Chantilly. Of cause Golden Horn was brilliant at both 10 and 12f but unlike him I think this horse is an out and out mile and a half campaigner. If he doesn’t win today I don’t think it’s the end of the world re Epsom but extra 100 yards or so today should suit him and Ground shouldn’t be a problem and the second, who he faces again today, has won a LR easily and he picks himself for me.

4 Crystal Ocean (9/2): The horse that has been hugely backed for both this and the Derby in the last couple of days. Son of Derby winner himself in Sea The Stars who has sired both an Oaks (Taghrooda) and Derby (Harzand) himself. Was very impressive in his maiden victory at Nottingham but this is a lot harder but there’s no reason he can’t win.

5 Exemplar (9/1): Highest rated in the field along with Syphax. All three runs have been on ground worse than this so no ground worries. 3rd behind Capri and Yucatan in G2 Beresford Stakes last time. Goes in as a player.

6 Forest Ranger (20/1): 25/1 winner of the big money Burradon Stakes on Newcastle’s All-Weather Good Friday fixture over G3 Acomb winner, and fellow rival here, Syphax. Was impressive that day, steps up again and possibly ground concerns but can run into a place at best.

7 Permian (14/1): 14/1 is probably too bigger price for a horse than ran the favourite to a Short Head two back and won a LR by 4 ½ lengths easily last time. Doubt he can reverse form with Cracksman but a likeable type just the same but maybe would want faster ground.

8 Rekindling (13/2): Good winner of the G3 Ballysax and the horses behind him have since gone well in the Derrinstown. Also has the focus of being the Pricewide Derby horse. Best of the Irish pair clearly for mine.

9 Swiss Storm (18/1): Really stylish winner of a Newbury maiden on his second start over 7f and has been bought into by Godolphin. Be interesting to see how he goes.

10 Syphax (20/1): Good G3 winner of the 7f Acomb at York but never looked likely in the Burradon behind Forest Ranger. Place only.

11 Wolf Country (16/1): LR winner in France of the 12f Prix de l’Avre, French Derby trial, last time when leading all the way on a big day for Godolphin. Drops back in trip here but a pace angle on the Saint-Cloud run.



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