Smart mulling York return for Project Dante

Bryan Smart has York’s Ebor meeting in mind for Project Dante following the two-year-old’s fine performance at Royal Ascot.

The Group Two Gimcrack Stakes and possibly the Nunthorpe, a Group One against older horses, are the two races Smart is likely to consider for his exciting youngster at the showpiece Festival in August.

Project Dante went close to snatching victory in the Norfolk Stakes on Thursday after being denied a clear run, beaten only a head and a nose in third place in the Group Two contest over five furlongs won by Perfect Power.

“Firstly I just want to get him over Royal Ascot,” said Smart.

“To go to Royal Ascot, I normally like to get two runs into them, and he only had the one. He will improve again for education.

“He’ll be entered in most of the smart races. We will definitely look at the Gimcrack. He’ll be entered in that, and I might give him an entry in the Nunthorpe.

“I think he’ll get six, and he could be a better horse over that trip, but we’ll just play it by ear. When you’ve got a nice horse like him, you just want to take your time and let the horse do the talking.”

Smart reports Project Dante, who made a successful debut at York last month, to have taken Royal Ascot remarkably well.

“He’s come out of the race like an absolute raging bull,” said the North Yorkshire trainer.

“He’s as fresh as paint. He was out in his pen in the sunshine having a pick of grass with his mate (Bond Chairman) at the side of him.”

Smart, who won the Nunthorpe with 40-1 outsider Alpha Delphini three years ago, reflected with pride rather than anguish at Project Dante’s Norfolk near miss.

“He ran a great race,” he said.

“That’s how it happens, that’s racing. You take the rough with the smooth. He finished really well.

“Me and (jockey) Graham (Lee) discussed it beforehand. We felt we had a good draw (16), but I said before he went out that it could be a bad draw if they all went across – and they did.

“He’s obviously a very good horse, and I’m very proud of him.”

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