LiveYork Races Dante Festival - live blog

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Gazette & Herald: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter

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Villa Royale (16/1) brings proceedings to a close winning the Investec Specialist Bank Stakes for Newark trainer Michael Appleby.

Thanks for your company today. Hope you've enjoyed a few winners at York.


Coming up to the final race of the day and a host of North Yorkshire contenders are looking to bring the curtain down on another fabulous day for the county.

Cape Tribulation is a Cheltenham Festival winner, no less, and has run well round Knavesmire before - beaten a head by Mashaari in October 2012. He will pose a threat for Norton trainer Malcolm Jefferson.

Richard Fahey hasn't had a winner over the first two days but he saddles Nashville. John Quinn brings a veritable army.

Moidore, Hidden Justice and Calculated Risk, all well thought off at his Highfield yard, are in the mix while, on the other side of the county, Tadcaster trainer Tom Tate brings Eagle Rock.

Sheriff Hutton trainer Tim Walford came very close but never quite managed to land a York winner.

His son, Mark, took over the licence in February and could achieve one in his first three months with Mr Snoozy, the mount of top apprentice Jason Hart.

Dr Irv, Herostatus and Hunting Ground represent the Middleham trio of Phil Kirby, Jason Ward and Mark Johnston.




That's why I rarely bet on maidens. Silver Ranger and Mister Universe both turned over as Bossy Guest (5/1) wins the Stratford Place Stud Chriselliam Memorial EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes - what a mouthful! - for former England footballer Mick Channon.


Silver Ranger is the 13/8 favourite with Mister Universe next up at 4/1. Gaudy is 9/2 and Bossy Guest is 7/1.


We've got a maiden coming up next and I'd love to run you through the form but all of these runners are making their racecourse debuts this afternoon.

Silver Ranger will look to give Ryan Moore a double but he is a short enough price, while Tim Easterby has a pair of entrants in Cisco Boy and Special Venture.

Richard Fahey saddles Bonds Choice, while Kevin Ryan could make it a very special afternoon if Gaudy wins in the hands of Jamie Spencer.

Mark Johnston hasn't had the best of times here in recent years, but he brings Mister Universe from his massive Middleham yard.


It's a winner for Frankie Dettori.

Shamshon, a 9-1 chance, wins for Marlborough trainer Richard Hannon. He did it fairly comfortably too.


It's the British Stallion Studs EBF Conditions Stakes up now and Eccleston, trained by David O'Meara, at Nawton is the county's only representative.

He's the 7/2 second favourite, though. They are loading in.


Brilliant picture from the Racing Post showing The Grey Gatsby streaking away to win the Betfred Dante Stakes - and keeping the trophy in North Yorkshire...


That's a tight finish...and Navajo Chief (15/2) has nutted Ford Bastion, trained by Ruth Carr at Stillington, in the last few strides.

Desperately bad luck for Carr, who craves a York winner, after her five-year-old looked to have made a winning move in the latter stages of the mile contest.


The action doesn't stop at York. It is the Listed Betfred Hambleton Stakes now and 12 runners go over a mile with £40,000 up for grabs.

They are going into the stalls as we speak.


That's had a significant impact on the Derby betting. Australia has beenb moved in from 6/5 to 4/6 with the Dante sponsors Betfred, while Paddy Power now make Australia and 8/11 shout.


Gazette & Herald:

The Grey Gatsby, as tipped this morning by The Press's racing pundit Tom O'Ryan, in the winner's enclosure after taking the Betfred Dante Stakes.

It's a leading trial for the Derby next month but, at this stage, the three-year-old - trained at Hambleton by Kevin Ryan - isn't entered.

Hear what Kevin had to say about the race here:


We've had a stewards' inquiry but, as expected, the places have remained unaltered.


County trainers are starting to own this meeting. The Grey Gatsby - at 9/1 - has won the Betfred Dante for Sutton Bank's Kevin Ryan!

He beat Arod by three-quarters of a length. What a result. Two years in succession the leading Derby trial has been nicked by a home horse.




Libertarian sprang a shock in last year's Dante Stakes, winning at 33/1 for Middleham's Karl and Elaine Burke, and The Grey Gatsby flies the flag for the county this year.

Kevin Ryan, based at Sutton Bank, trains the top class three-year-old but he has got a task on his hands to beat the heavily fancied True Story.

A 4/6 jolly, this is the real test for the current second favourite for next month's Epsom Derby, who represents the boys in blue of Godolphin. Can he deliver or will North Yorkshire's fabulous Dante Festival continue?


The ground has been drying up all day and it is now good to soft, good in places.


That was a gutsy performance there from Ambivalent, who has won the Middleton Stakes at 9/2.

The five-year-old led from the start of the mile and a quarter contest but was tackled by Secret Gesture without three furlongs left to travel.

Andrea Atzeni managed to get a tune out of her, though, and despite wandering a little to the right, she reasserted to win very well indeed.




Thistle Bird heads the market for the Middleton Stakes at 7/2.

Pictured going down to post is the second favourite Secret Gesture - currently 4/1 in the ring.

She is joint second-favourite with Ambivalent.

Gazette & Herald:


Gazette & Herald:

Training just down the road in Westow, you can imagine that Paul Midgley was pretty pleased to win the opener here at York.

You can hear what he had to say below by clicking the audioboo link.


Deja vu anyone? It's another North Yorkshire winner to start day two of the Dante Festival.

Monsieur Joe, at 25/1, has taken the Betfred supports Jack Berry House Stakes. The seven-year-old won by a length after surging clear inside the final furlong.

He is trained at Westow by Paul Midgley.



The betting is up for the first and it is Ashpan Sam, trained by John Spearing in Kinnersley, that leads the market at 13/2.

Ryan Moore is on board and, despite a flock of rides yesterday, failed to get off the mark. He's got six bookings today.

Bogart, bidding to give Kevin Ryan his second York winner of the week, is next in the betting with Jamie Spencer in the saddle and Normal Equilibrium follows at 11/1.

Spencer's booking for Bogart is a positive but will the five-year-old be ready for this on his seasonal reappearance.

It weasn't a happy visit last time he was here, either, when he finished 15th of 19 in October - albeit over a furlong further.


Fallon, of course, is really on a high at the moment. He won the 2,000 Guineas on Night of Thunder, bagged a top job at Godolphin, took the Musidora Stakes here yesterday on Madame Chiang and is on board the ssecond favourite for the Derby in the Betfred Dante.

Not a bad few weeks for the 49-year-old...



Secret Asset doesn't go to post in this one, while other local challengers to note include Best Trip and Doc Hay, for Norton's Brian Ellison, and Ballesteros - the mount of Ian Brennan and saddled by Richard Fahey.


Just under 45 minutes and we will be underway with the Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Stakes.

North Yorkshire trainers were five star yesterday - enyoing a quintet of victories - and they will be keen to get off to a good start again in this five furlong sprint.

Ancient Cross, for Mick Easterby at Sheriff Hutton, won this race 12 months ago and the 10-year-old has each way claims again this time around.

James Sullivan is in the pilot seat.




That Is The Spirit saved Jack Keene's blushes yesterday although, in his defence, he put up a couple of big priced horses in his selections for the opening day's action.

Never one to be deterred by a setback, he has been burning the midnight oil to find a few winners today.

Keene's Crackers:

1.45pm - Top Boy
2.15pm - Ambivalent
2.45pm - True Story
3.15pm - Ingleby Angel
3.50pm - Justice Day
4.25pm - Silver Ranger
5pm - Entihaa



Half an hour before the Dante at 2.15pm, some talented fillies line up in the Betfred £10 million Scoop6 Middleton Stakes.

Jack Keene has saved you the hard work by looking through the form of the main contenders.

Here are his thoughts.

A top-class field has assembled for the Group 2 Middleton Stakes at 2.15pm, with nine fillies who all have form in Group races.

Roger Charlton has brought Thistle Bird up from Newmarket and she brings arguably the best form with her.

She fell just half-a-length short of victory in a Group 1 race in France on her last start, a reproduction of that form would make her hard to beat.

She isn’t straight forward and Frankie Dettori rides her for the first time today, so the new relationship will undoubtedly be tested. She isn’t always at her best fresh, but if fully wound up she’ll be a key player.

Secret Gesture looked an incredible talent when an effortless victor in last year’s Lingfield Oaks trial, and she ran an excellent race when runner-up in the bona fide Epsom classic.

More solid placed efforts followed before her season ended on a disappointing note behind Thistle Bird in France. She is better than that and if she was to discover the form she showed in the first half of last season she could easily take this prize.

However that lacklustre effort in October leaves lingering doubts about her resolution and desire, and we will find out today if she has trained on.

Another quirky but talented filly lines up in the form of Ambivalent. A Group 1 winner in Ireland last year, she often has her own ideas about the game but has all the raw attributes of a fantastic race horse.

If in the mood she can be very hard to pass, she’ll enjoy drying conditions and has the benefit of a recent run having come third in the Sheema Classic in Meydan 47 days ago.

The Lark won the Park Hill at Doncaster last year but is likely to find today’s trip on the sharp side and will come on for this run.

Mango Diva improved as the season progressed last year, culminating in a Group 3 victory at Gowran Park. She’ll need to improve again to win here, but is not entirely ruled out for a trainer who has won this race six times.

Gifted Girl is consistent but is hard to win with, while Odeliz and Quiz Mistress will likely be outclassed.

Though backing her always carries an element of risk, Ambivalent has already displayed her well-being this year with a fantastic placed effort at the Dubai Carnival.

She’ll love the drying ground and is selected ahead of Thistle Bird.


True Story may be all the rage for the Betfred Dante, but The Press tipster Tom O'Ryan is looking a bit closer to home for the winner - and at a much bigger price too.


Here are the early non-runners here at York today:

1:45pm  7 Secret Asset
2:15pm  8 Sinaadi
5:15pm  3 Queensberry Rules
4:25pm  5 Portamento


Gazette & Herald:

Let's hope it stays like this for the rest of the day. The ground is drying all the time and we might even see another change in going by the time racing begins at 1.45pm.


The Betfred Dante Stakes is the leading Derby trial and is worth £150,000 after racing chiefs at York ploughed more cash into the contest during the off-season.

While the winner is usually prominent in the Derby betting the race hasn't produced the winner of the Epsom Classic since Authorized in 2007.

But the current second favourite, True Story, is here today and racing expert Jack Keene is finding it hard to see past the Godolphin colt.

Here he previews today's Group 2 contest:

The Derby picture should be clearer this afternoon as a field of six go to post for the Group 2 Dante Stakes.

Though a prestigious race in its own right, it has been a well-used stepping stone for classic success in the past, with no fewer than nine horses completing the double. 

True Story is clear second favourite in the antepost market for the Derby, and will be a warm order at around 4/6 to enhance his credentials at 2.45pm today. 

He looked an exciting prospect when winning a maiden on the July Course at Newmarket last year, and showcased his development when trouncing his rivals in the Listed Feilden Stakes last time out.

The drying ground at Knavesmire will aid his cause, and he is likely to be difficult to master.

Frankie Dettori’s flying dismount will be in evidence today if he can spoil the True Story party on second favourite Bunker. Second in the Chesham at Royal Ascot last year, Bunker then went on to beat subsequent French 2000 Guineas winner Karakontie in a listed race at Deauville.

He is bred to improve for the step up to ten furlongs and he is the greatest threat to the favourite.

While Arod was impressive when winning a Windsor maiden by five lengths, the bare form of that race isn’t enough to send you scurrying to back him at 12/1 today.

He is, however, open to considerable improvement, and the ease with which he brushed aside inferior opposition was taking. His stamina is assured and he will enjoy the improving going, but he has rather been pitched in at the deep end in this event, and looks a place player at best.

The Grey Gatsby has come up short in some competitive races in his career, including a tenth placed finish in the 2000 Guineas, and he is likely to find a couple too good again today, with doubts over his stamina another negative.

James Given’s Odeon stepped up on his debut fifth to win by nine lengths at Redcar three weeks ago, appearing to relish the role as front runner.

He’ll need to continue his progression to trouble the principles here, and is the most likely pace angle in the race.

Saab Almanal is the only maiden in the field, and though he has displayed ability on his two starts so far he looks out of his depth here.

An unoriginal choice but True Story was so impressive when winning at Newmarket that he can’t be taken on, and he is selected to cement his position behind Australia in the Derby betting. Bunker will give him most to think about.


It's another beautifully sunny day at York and here's the latest going on the track, courtesy of TurfTrax.


Good morning again everyone from York Racecourse as we get ready for day two of the Dante Festival on Knavesmire.

We've got some exciting action ahead of us, with the Betfred Dante the highlight, and we'll be bringing you all the action throughout the day.

I have been once more joined by racing expert Jack Keene today and we'll be looking to give you all the form, along with our tips, in the run up to racing.

Then, as the winners start to come in, we'll bring you reaction from the top trainers and jockeys.

As always, we want to hear from you. Send us your views using the comments facility below or hit us up on twitter. It's @scarrollpress or @jkeene124.

Alternatively, get involved in the discussion by using the hashtag #yorkraces


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