York’s Dante Meeting begins today, with the prospect of three thrilling days of racing on the Knavesmire.
The Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes is the highlight on day one. This year’s renewal looks particularly strong, with the first three from October’s Qipco Champions Day Sprint renewing rivalry. The Tin Man is burdened with a penalty for that victory, and the markets suggest that third home Brando may well reverse placings this time round. Trained by Kevin Ryan, he has already opened his account for this campaign, winning a Group 3 at Newmarket in April. With match fitness on his side, he looks sure to run another huge race.
Last year’s winner Magical Memory returns. He edged out Suedois 12 months ago, in a thrilling finish. Both return for another crack, with the former partnered by Frankie Dettori. Frankie’s record at the Dante meeting is outstanding. His association with John Gosden is a major route to success, and he steered five horses to victory at last year’s meeting, including a treble on day one.
With only three rides that day, he started with victory in the Duke Of York, before winning the Group 3 Musidora on Gosden’s classy filly So Mi Dar. The treble was completed onboard Castle Harbour, another from the Gosden camp. On the second day of the 2016 meeting, Dettori and Gosden paired up to take the feature Dante Strakes, when Wings Of Desire got the better of Ballydoyle’s Deauville under a wonderfully timed challenge from the Italian jock.
On the final day Dettori had a steering job on short-priced favourite Nemoralia, who comfortably took the Michael Seely Memorial. He kept things simple, moving on the outer to take up the running inside the two-furlong pole.
It’s decision making that often separates Dettori form the rest. He rarely makes a bad move during a race, giving a horse the best possible opportunity of victory. This often involves challenging wide to ensure avoiding traffic, though when the pack moved to the centre of the track in last year’s Musidora, he was quick to switch inside when making a successful challenge on So Mi Dar.
It’s no surprise that Dettori and Gosden once again hold a strong hand going into the three-day meeting. Shutter Speed is expected to be one of the stars of the opening day, assuming rain doesn’t scupper plans. She was mightily impressive last time at Newbury, but is thought to be a better filly on a sounder surface. She did win on debut on soft ground, but should we get heavy rain at York prior to the off, it would come as no surprise should Gosden decide to wait for another day.
As a fan, I hope Shutter Speed turns up and duly thrills the Yorkshire public. Day two could also prove productive for Gosden and Dettori, with outstanding chances in both the Group 2s. So Mi Dar looks to have a great chance of following up last year’s Musidora win with success in the Middleton Stakes. Sir Michael Stoute’s Queen’s Trust looks the main danger, though she’s another that would prefer the rain to stay away.
Dettori then gets the leg-up on Cracksman, carrying the familiar silks of 2015 Dante winner Golden Horn. By Frankel out of a Pivotal mare, this fella should have no problems with conditions, and arrives here after winning a little cosily at Epsom. Again, Sir Michael Stoute looks to have the main challenger, with Crystal Ocean now vying for favouritism. It looks a terrific renewal, with currently 11 runners declared, including four for Godolphin.
With fingers firmly crossed, hoping that the British weather doesn’t cause too many disruptions, I’d be surprised if this wasn’t another hugely successful week for Signor Dettori. He’s sure to land other plum rides, but it’s his association with John Gosden that is sure to prove the most productive, at a racecourse where the jockey excels.