Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 11:57 12/05/2015
Eight horses are set to go to post for Thursday's Betfred Dante Stakes at York in what is turning out to be one of the most significant trials for the Epsom Derby in living memory with most of the leading ante-post fancies for the world's most famous Flat race set to lock horns on the Knavesmire, the result of which could lead to the winner becoming a short priced favourite for the Classic due to be run on Saturday 6th June.
A best price 5-2 for York ( Betfred and Bet365 ) and 5-1 for Epsom ( Boylesports, Paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook ) the John Gosden-trained Jack Hobbs heads the betting for both races and it would take any horseracing ' anorak ' some time to find the last horse to occupy such a loft position on the basis of two wins, the first in a Wolverhampton all-weather maiden and the second in a Sandown handicap off a mark of 85.
However, such was the visually impressive manner of the second of those victories that the son of Halling looked an exceptional colt despite the limited quality of the opposition, but the acid test comes on Thursday when the mount of Frankie Dettori takes on a horse with Group 1 winning form plus a number of rivals bred in the purple and with the potential to make it to the very top of the sport. The Andrew Balding-trained Elm Park is the Group 1 winner in question having claimed the last of four juvenile victories in Doncaster's Racing Post Trophy and is sure to expose any chinks in the favourites' armoury.
A general 8-1 chance for Epsom, Ladbrokes standout offering 7-2 for the Dante, the same price as Aidan O'Brien's first string John F Kennedy who disappointed on his seasonal reappearance at Leopardstown and the mount of Ryan Moore. Stablemate Ol' Man River was another O'Brien inmate to run badly on his three-year-old debut in Newmarket's Qipco 2000 Guineas finishing last of 18 under Joseph O'Brien who will once again be in the saddle.
It is not only Ballydoyle who are double-handed in the Group 2 contest as Gosden also runs his unbeaten Cape Cross colt Golden Horn (William Buick in the saddle) who can be backed at 11-2 for the trial with Betvictor and Paddy Power although the horse would have to be supplemented for Epsom should connections decide to take that route after York. The field is completed by Craven runner up Nafaqa, Medrano and Lord Ben Stack.