Ancient Wisdom heads Dante dozen at York on Thursday

Charlie Appleby’s Ancient Wisdom has the opportunity to put his Betfred Derby credentials to the test in Thursday’s Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes, as he tops a maximum field of 12 following Friday’s confirmations.

The Moulton Paddock’s handler already has ante-post Epsom favourite or joint-favourite Arabian Crown in his ranks, and could see his hand strengthened when last year’s Futurity Trophy winner makes his return in the feature of York’s three-day meeting.

Aidan O’Brien has three possible runners at this stage, with Diego Velazquez impressive when claiming the Group Two Golden Fleece Stakes at Leopardstown on his second start before only able to finish sixth behind Ancient Wisdom at Doncaster.

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He is set to contest the French 2000 Guineas on Sunday, but Blue Riband Trial third Chief Little Rock could make another trip to Britain for this Group Two event on the Knavesmire, while O’Brien has also supplemented Craven fourth Cambridge.

Roger Varian has already tasted Classic success this season and has elected to go up in trip with Al Musmak who showed some smart form in useful company as a two-year-old, while both Karl Burke’s Caviar Heights and Paul and Oliver Cole’s Black Run were seen in the winner’s enclosure at Newmarket’s Guineas Festival.

The former was an impressive winner of the Listed Newmarket Stakes and now takes the next step on his path towards a potential tilt at Epsom.

Economics impressed when breaking his maiden at Newbury and could step up to 10 furlongs representing William Haggas, while John and Thady Gosden’s God’s Window was well held in Chester’s Dee Stakes but is given a chance for a quick return to action.

Economics was a taking winner
Economics was a taking winner (PA)

Ed Walker’s Harper’s Ferry was due to contest that Listed event on the Roodee before refusing to go into the stalls and is another given a second bite of the cherry, while both Under The Sun (Hugo Palmer) and War Rooms (Owen Burrows) will be hoping to improve on their efforts in Sandown’s Classic Trial if facing the starter in Yorkshire.

In the Middleton Fillies’ Stakes, the John and Thady Gosden-trained Free Wind is in line to defend her crown against the likes of Ralph Beckett’s Champions Day runner-up Bluestocking.

Meanwhile, York chief executive and clerk of the course William Derby is looking forward to the Knavesmire’s opening action of the season, with rain showers in the early part of next week set to ensure perfect conditions for the course’s key Classic trials.

He said: “We’re the quick side of good at the moment after a nice sunny week that is due to continue through the weekend.

“But the weather system changes the early part of next week and we are expecting rain Monday and Tuesday. For racing it is a mixture of sunshine and showers and it will be slightly cooler than of late as we move from a high-pressure system to a low-pressure system.

York is poised for its first meeting of the summer
York is poised for its first meeting of the summer (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It’s natural ground and as everyone knows we have had a wet winter and spring. It’s just dried up and warmed up nicely over the last 10 days. We’re happy with where it is at the moment and will just keep an eye on the rain that will on Monday and Tuesday which will put the ground spot on for racing.”

On the Dante field and the racing itself, Derby added: “It looks fantastic racing and we’re really excited to get started again.

“We’ve got a record-level of prize-money (on offer) and last year Soul Sister won the Musidora before winning the Oaks with Frankie (Dettori) and I think 11 colts have won the Dante/Derby double, so I can’t wait to see what will happen next Thursday in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes.

“We’re releasing the first phase of our redevelopment of the southern end of the racecourse. That is looking good and coming on well ahead of the full opening ahead of the Ebor and it’s a really exciting time of the year.”

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Big Evs with trainer Mick Appleby, jockey Frederick Larson and head girl Tara Belfield
Big Evs with trainer Mick Appleby, jockey Frederick Larson and head girl Tara Belfield (Joe Giddens/PA)

The card is also due to feature the return to action of Breeders’ Cup winner Big Evs in the British Stallion Studs EBF Westow Stakes.

Trainer Mick Appleby said: “Big Evs is in very good order. He has wintered really well – he’s raring to go. Hopefully, he should run very well…hopefully, he’ll win!

“Tom (Marquand) is definitely riding. The main thing now is that the rain stays away. He’ll do his last piece of work tomorrow.

“There were very few races early on for three-years-old over five furlongs. He’s in the Temple Stakes (Haydock, May 25). Then he’ll more than likely go to Royal Ascot in the King’s Stand, which is now the King Charles III Stakes (June 18).

“He’s grown a little bit through the winter, but not a lot. He’s not the biggest of horses. He’s pretty straightforward to train. The thing with him, like I’ve always said, is he’s very quick.”

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