The York Dante meeting is a three-day festival which runs from Wednesday 17th May to Friday 19th May this year and frequently sees top class horses having their first run of the season. Featuring winners in the past such as Midday, Society Rock and future Derby Winner Golden Horn to name but a few. The Dante meeting usually offers plenty of clues for the season ahead and again looks set to be a fascinating three days. I’ve selected a couple of horses who, if they do turn up, will be strong fancies.
Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes (Group 2) - 6f
One of the feature races on day one of the Dante Festival is the Duke of York Stakes which last year saw a strong field go to post which was led home by Magical Memory. This year’s renewal looks likely to be equally as competitive and a horse who will have a great chance if he lines up is the Kevin Ryan trained Brando. He progressed steadily last season posting some decent efforts, most notably winning the Ayr Gold Cup carrying top weight before going on to finish a length behind The Tin Man at Ascot on Champions Day. The Tin Man is a potential runner in this race as well but there’s reason to believe Brando can reverse the form with that rival in this race. Brando has had the benefit of a run already this season (which The Tin Man hasn’t) which was a win in a Group 3 at Newmarket and that should have put him spot on for this race. Six furlongs looks his optimum trip, further improvement is likely to come and I expect connections will have had this race in mind for some time.
Betfred Middleton Stakes (Group 2) - 1m2½f
Judging by potential entries, this year’s renewal of the Middleton Stakes looks set to be an intriguing one. Although it’s unlikely that the John Gosden trained Journey won’t run in this race like he did last year as he is being aimed at the Coronation Cup at Epsom in June instead according to connections, Gosden is likely to run the filly So Mi Dar. She looked slightly unlucky to lose her unbeaten record at the end of last season when finishing third in a Group 1 at Chantilly but had previously made it four wins from four runs with one of those wins being in the Musidora Stakes at this meeting. Although she tended to race keenly in her races last season, she impressively beat some promising horses and the form of each of her wins has worked out well. Held in high regard, she could potentially turn into a high-class filly this season and is expected to go close.
Selection: So Mi Dar