All eyes head north as the picturesque and highly popular York racecourse presides over the much anticipated three day Dante Festival. Although not as prestigious as the York August Ebor Meeting, the Dante Festival is set to be an exciting week on the betting front with some cracking open handicap races and intriguing Group events. The rain has been falling in North Yorkshire in the last few days and with this in mind, I’ll select some who might act on soft going. We are going to concentrate on the latter two days. The feature race is on Thursday, the Group 2 Dante Stakes, currently headed in the market by Cracksman and this is a good place to start.
York Racecourse highly regarded as one of the best racecourses in the UK.
The Dante Stakes
John Gosden has dominated this race in recent seasons, saddling home the last two winners in Golden Horn and Wings Of Desire respectively. This year his entry is in the form of Cracksman who currently leads the market at 11/4 - bet365 (+ most firms). He ran well in the Investec Derby Trial late last month in what was a difficult race in running, with the Gosden charge having to switch lanes twice to get into a winning position. However, punters have not expressed confidence regarding Cracksman and this has seen his price drift in the market in recent days from 2/1 to 11/4. On the other hand, the rage has been all about the Michael Stout trained Crystal Ocean who has been heavily backed all week.
Cracksman, trained by John Gosden, is strong favourite for Thursday’s Dante Stakes.
Very unexposed type who has been the subject of some eye catching recent antepost speculation. His latest run in a maiden at Nottingham, where he dominated in an eased at the line 2 length victory, confirms he should stay the 1 miles 2 furlongs. Sir Michael Stoute is no stranger to being in the winner’s enclosure for this race, having trained the winner on six previous occasions. As mentioned, the money has been done on this charge and was available at 12/1 earlier in the week but now is best 100/30 with William Hill and Bet Victor.
Exemplar for the each way value?
Aidan O’Brien often bypasses the Dante Meeting for his Derby hopes, although he has entered the useful looking Exemplar (currently 33/1 for the Derby, most firms) who finished third behind Capri in the Juddmonte Stakes at The Curragh last September. Interestingly, that was over heavy ground and with rain forecasted this week at the North Yorkshire track, this could be something to take into account for an each way value bet. Best backed at 9/1 with Bet365, Bet Victor and William Hill.
Aidan O’Brien has bypassed The Dante with his 2000 Guineas winner Churchill but still hopes Exemplar will make a bold show in The Dante Stakes.
1420 York: Betfred "Supports Jack Berry House" Handicap
The biggest handicap sprint of the week is a tough puzzle to unravel with half a dozen entries being able to press decent claims. Draw advantage is not usually a major issue at York although high numbers are favoured when the going is more on the soft side. Therefore, I quite like the look of Soie D’Leau trained by Kristin Stubbs. He has run consistently in recent outings and should appreciate the give in the ground. 12/1 available with Betfair Sportsbook.
1420 York: The Langleys Solicitors British EBF Marygate Fillies' Stakes
Very tricky 2 year olds sprint to kick off proceedings on Friday. Hardly any form to go on although EJ O’Neill’s team are in cracking from at the moment and no harm can be done by going with their entry from France, Kentish Waltz who ran a decent race in Chantilly last time out. Best backed at 7/1 with bet365 + most firms.
1455: The Longines Irish Champions Weekend Fillies' Stakes
Not a great deal of from to go on for this 3 year old fillies listed event. Dancing Breeze trained by John Gosden stands out after an encouraging win at Newmarket last month. He should come on for that and can be grabbed at 4/1 best with Sky Bet, William Hill and Stan James.
1530 York: The Yorkshire Cup
The big stayer’s race of the week is a highly competitive affair with joint favourites Dartmouth and Muntahaa dominating the market. Preference is just slightly for Dartmouth who has won on the predicted going and will appreciate any further rain. He’s never been out of the frame and with Sir Michael Stoute’s yard being predicted to have a good week, this is worth pouncing on the 4/1 available for him at William Hill and Stan James.
1605 York: The Betway Jorvik Handicap
Several enticing handicaps are pencilled in for Friday including the The Betway Jorvik Handicap (16.05 York). 25 runners are still declared at the two day stage although this will probably be whittled down to half that number by Friday. Cymro could be a livewire outside chance as he is the only contender with established form on heavy going. Best priced 16/1 with Paddy Power.
Good luck with all your bets in The Dante Festival.