Derby dream on the line for John Leeper

John Leeper takes on five rivals as the impeccably-bred colt bids to enhance his reputation in the Betway Fairway Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

The son of Frankel, out of multiple Group One-winning mare Snow Fairy, got off the mark in eyecatching fashion at Newcastle two weeks ago on his second career start.

Named after trainer Ed Dunlop’s late father John, the three-year-old colt is highly-regarded and holds entries in some major races, including the Cazoo Derby.

“The Dante looked a very strong race on paper and he had the option of going to Newmarket instead,” said the Newmarket handler.

“We didn’t want firm ground at Newmarket but with the rain we have had that is not going to be the case, so we discussed it and decided to come here.

“He won a novice at Newcastle very impressively from a difficult draw but we are under no illusions he still has a long way to go yet. He was an immature horse last year and he only had the one run but we hoped that he would improve from two to three.

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“He won his novice over a mile and a quarter and I’m sure he will stay further. William Buick rode him first time out and he knows the horse. Hopefully we will learn a lot more on Saturday.”

Fancy Man has to give weight all round for winning the Listed Ascendant Stakes at Haydock.

The Richard Hannon-trained colt has already had two races this season and was third in the Chester Vase last week.

Mark Johnston’s Sea The Shells has to bounce back from a disappointing run at Sandown after creating a big impression when winning his first two starts.

Assistant trainer Charlie Johnston said: “We have no idea what happened at Sandown and nothing concrete has come to light. It was too bad to be true.

“It is not the normal route getting stuffed in a handicap to then go into a Listed race but options off his mark were limited. This was a nice opportunity to run on a nice track on decent ground in a small field.”

He went on: “He was very impressive early in his first two starts but then last time was a reality check. We are on a fact-finding mission on Saturday and hopefully we can get back on track.”

Jane Chapple-Hyam reports Bellosa to be in good order ahead of putting her unbeaten record on the line in the Betway King Charles II Stakes.

The three-year-old Awtaad filly bolted up by seven lengths over the course and distance on her debut.

Bellosa was a hugely impressive winner on her debut
Bellosa was a hugely impressive winner on her debut (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Chapple-Hyam said: “Bellosa has trained well since her win last time and I’m very pleased with her. I can’t see the rain we have being a problem as she goes on any ground in training.

“I don’t think she will get an easy lead like last time as it will be more competitive, but she doesn’t have to lead as she is a very relaxed filly.

“We thought she would go well last time but she just kept finding when she hit the rising ground and didn’t come back to them. Oisin (Murphy) said we could come back in trip with her but I was happy to stay at seven. This is a learning curve for us – it will tell us what she is capable of.”

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