Posts

Dante success puts Hurricane Lane in Derby mix

Hurricane Lane burst into the picture for the Cazoo Derby when knuckling down gamely to win the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.

Ridden by William Buick and trained by Charlie Appleby, the son of Frankel took control well inside the furlong to claim the Group Two honours.

It was a welcome boost for Godolphin and Appleby after several previous runners in the recognised Classic trials fell short of expectations.

Hurricane Lane (5-1) had to work hard to extend his 100 per cent record on his third career start.

High Definition was sent off the 13-8 favourite to strike for Aidan O’Brien. But it was the stable’s second string Roman Empire, ridden by Hollie Doyle, who looked like springing a surprise after opening up a long lead into the straight.

However, Roman Empire came back to the field, and the finish was fought out by Hurricane Lane and Megallan, trained by John and Thady Gosden.

Hurricane Lane ground out success by three-quarters of a length. High Definition was a further length and a quarter away in third, with Roman Empire fourth.

A son of Frankel, Hurricane Lane was cut to 6-1 from 12-1 for the Derby with Betfair and Paddy Power.

In the past 10 days Appleby had seen three of his potential Derby candidates beaten, with Wirko and Yibir fluffing their lines in the Chester Vase and Dee Stakes respectively and Adayar having to make do with the runner-up spot in the Lingfield Derby Trial.

The Moulton Paddocks handler was delighted to see Hurricane Lane step forward as a legitimate contender for the premier Classic.

Appleby said: “We were pleased with Adayar, who was probably beaten by a sharper horse at Lingfield, and then we had the boys at Chester.

“When you went through the bare form of the horses ahead of the trials, we felt this horse had the best form of the four of them.

“He obviously beat Maximal at Newbury and Maximal went and ran well at Chester (second in the Dee Stakes), so we were confident that Hurricane Lane was the right one to go to the Dante.

“He’s got a great temperament for a big horse and is a good mover. It was lovely ground and he’s jumped and travelled well and stayed well, so he ticks a lot of the boxes (for the Derby).

“I was a bit worried Hollie’s horse had got away from them, but once I saw he was stopping, I was confident our horse would keep galloping and that’s what he’s done.

“He’s proven he’s got stamina in abundance and the step up in trip at Epsom should suit him. I’ve been on the phone to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and he was pleased, so as long as the horse comes out of it fit and well, that (Epsom) is the obvious place to go.”

The trainer confirmed Hurricane Lane is likely to be joined at Epsom by stablemate One Ruler following his sixth-placed finish in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

He added: “He’ll go straight for the Derby. He’s come out of the Guineas well and we toyed with whether to run him in the Dante, but it has always been Hurricane Lane’s plan, so we felt we’d go straight to Epsom with him.”

Buick said: “We all know the Dante is always a good trial and this year’s looked to have plenty of quality in it.

“I think what this horse has in his locker is that he will improve for a mile and a half, he will stay. Everything he does, he does it right, he went through the gears nicely and when he got company he battled back – he did that at Newbury, too.

Charlie Appleby has a major Derby contender in Hurricane Lane
Charlie Appleby has a major Derby contender in Hurricane Lane (Simon Cooper/PA)

“He’s gone from strength to strength, he’s improved with every run and has taken every run well, he’s got a real good mind. I can’t see much more you could ask of him.

“Obviously he’ll have to step up again, we all know that, but at least he’s got the experience now and he’ll get a mile and a half.

“It was a solid-run trial, a true-run race, unlike some of the trials it was an end-to-end gallop.

“He travels well and is well balanced, obviously he hasn’t been to Epsom but I’m not too worried about Epsom.”

Buick and Appleby combined for Derby glory in 2018 with Masar, and the rider added: “Masar was a top juvenile, won the Craven and was placed in the Guineas, we knew he’d get 10 furlongs – we weren’t sure about 12, but he got it very well.

“You never know about that race until the day.”

Of Megallan, Gosden senior said: “He came here on trial for the Prix du Jockey Club and if he’s in good order that’s where he’ll go as that is his trip. Megallan has a better turn of foot on quicker ground, so we’ll have to see what it’s like.

“I’ve always liked the winner, William was telling us on a flight back from Chester he thought he’d run well.

“I think the two best trials are the Derrinstown and the Dante, I think the winners are the two smart ones and Aidan also has two smart fillies.

“Uncle Bryn needs to grow up a bit, like all of us.”

Doyle was having her first ride for Ballydoyle and said: “He was doing everything so easy and they left me to it. I thought I’d ask him a question half a mile out and he responded.

“At the furlong pole I was thinking ‘where is everyone’. He’s run a huge race.”

High time to unleash winter Derby favourite

Long-time Derby favourite High Definition puts his unbeaten record and tall reputation on the line in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.

Aidan O’Brien’s colt spent the winter months at the top of ante-post lists for next month’s premier Classic, having followed up his debut success at the Curragh with a scintillating display in the Beresford Stakes at September.

However, unsatisfactory blood test results ruled him out of an intended return to action in the Lingfield Derby Trial and he now finds himself usurped at the head of the Epsom market by stablemate Bolshoi Ballet following his runaway success at Leopardstown on Sunday.

O’Brien hopes High Definition can stake his claim on Thursday with a positive comeback performance on the Knavesmire.

He said: “We are keen to get a run into him. Obviously everybody knows the plan was originally to go to Lingfield on Saturday with him. We couldn’t do that, so now he is going to York.

“We’re just glad to get him out and then we can see where we go from there.”

O’Brien also runs Roman Empire, the mount of Hollie Doyle.

“He won at Gowran nicely last year, but disappointed us first time out this season,” the Ballydoyle handler added.

“The ground was very bad that day, he was keen enough and he just got tired. We’ve always thought this trip would suit him.”

The Mark Johnston-trained Gear Up won three of his four starts as a juvenile, including a York victory in the Acomb Stakes and a subsequent Group One success in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud, a race in which Bolshoi Ballet could finish only fifth.

Johnston said: “It’s very exciting, obviously. It looks a competitive race, but he’s been here twice before and won both times.

“The ground shouldn’t trouble him. I’m looking forward to it. I think a mile and a quarter is most probably his minimum trip now, but it’s a stepping stone to run in the Derby next.”

Roger Varian has already saddled two trial winners in the past week, with El Drama seemingly bound for the French Derby after landing Chester’s Dee Stakes, and Third Realm throwing his hat into the ring for Epsom with victory at Lingfield.

The Newmarket handler has high hopes for Royal Champion in the Dante, with the Shamardal colt expected to improve significantly from his third-placed finish in last month’s Feilden Stakes.

“It looks a very good race on paper, but we think an awful lot of our horse,” said Varian.

Royal Champion winning at Newmarket last year
Royal Champion winning at Newmarket last year (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He’s look good all spring and possibly just needed his run in the Feilden.

“He’s trained real good going into the Dante. I don’t know if he’ll win it, but I should think he’ll run very well.”

Hurricane Lane bids to make it three wins from three starts for trainer Charlie Appleby.

The son of Frankel made a successful reappearance in a conditions race at Newbury a month ago, with the runner-up Maximal since finishing second to El Drama in the Dee Stakes.

Speaking on www.godolphin.com, Appleby said: “We are pleased with how Hurricane Lane is coming into this race, off the back of a nice win on his seasonal return. He has come forward for that run and we feel that the track and ground at York will suit.

“It’s the next test for him to see where he is going to end up over the forthcoming months.”

Uncle Bryn scoring at Kempton
Uncle Bryn scoring at Kempton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

John Gosden, who now trains in partnership with son Thady, saddled the last horse to complete the Dante-Derby double in Golden Horn.

Six years on, the Clarehaven team is represented by Uncle Bryn, who lost his unbeaten record when third in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom on his seasonal debut, as well as Megallan.

Yorkshire-born trainer William Haggas runs Sandown Classic Trial winner Alenquer, while Belloccio (David Menuisier), Pythagoras (Richard Fahey) and Flying Visit (Jim Bolger) complete the 11-strong field.

High Definition declared in search of Dante honours

High Definition is one of 11 colts declared for the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York on Thursday.

Unbeaten in two starts as a juvenile, Aidan O’Brien’s charge spent the winter months as clear favourite for the Cazoo Derby at Epsom.

The Galileo colt missed his intended comeback run in last Saturday’s Lingfield Derby Trial following an unsatisfactory blood test result, but is set to appear on the Knavesmire five days later.

O’Brien has a second string to his bow in outsider Roman Empire, while Irish hopes are also carried by Jim Bolger’s Flying Visit.

The latter was last seen finishing second in the Ballysax Stakes to O’Brien’s Bolshoi Ballet, who is now the hot favourite for the Derby after his latest triumph in last weekend’s Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown.

The home team is headed by the Mark Johnston-trained Gear Up, who won the Acomb Stakes at York last summer and rounded off his two-year-old campaign with Group One success in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

John Gosden, who now trains in partnership with son Thady, saddled the last horse to complete the Dante-Derby double in Golden Horn.

Six years on, the Clarehaven team is represented by Uncle Bryn, who lost his unbeaten record when third in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom on his seasonal debut, as well as Megallan.

Yorkshire-born trainer William Haggas runs Sandown Classic Trial winner

Alenquer (right) winning at Sandown
Alenquer (right) winning at Sandown (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Hurricane Lane (Charlie Appleby), Belloccio (David Menuisier), Pythagoras (Richard Fahey) and Royal Champion (Roger Varian) complete the line-up.

An hour earlier Group Two honours are up for grabs in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies’ Stakes, for which six runners are set to go to post.

O’Brien’s Passion is joined in the trip across the Irish Sea by the Jessica Harrington-trained Silence Please, with Sir Michael Stoute’s Queen Power the leading British-trained contender after finishing second in the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket.

Cabeletta (Varian), Chamade (Ralph Beckett) and Freyja (Johnston) are the other hopefuls.

Dante contender Gear Up has ‘all the credentials’

Mark Johnston is excited about Gear Up’s potential as he prepares the Group One winner for the Al Basti Equiworld Dante Stakes at York.

Winner of the Acomb on the Knavesmire on his second outing, having also struck there on his debut, Gear Up surrendered his unbeaten record in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket.

But stepped up to 10 furlongs for the Criterium de Saint-Cloud, he showed great resolution to beat Andre Fabre’s Botanik by a short neck, with Prix Marcel Boussac winner Tiger Tanaka back in fourth.

The Derby therefore looms this season, with Thursday’s York trial very much a starting point for Gear Up’s three-year-old campaign.

“He’s got all the credentials, and we’re really looking forward to it,” said Johnston.

“It’s almost a case of whatever happens (this week) he’ll be going to the Derby after.

“We went close with Dee Ex Bee a few years ago (runner-up at Epsom in 2018), but this horse is a Group One winner already and he’d be the first of those I’ve run in the Derby I think – I haven’t had that many runners in it all told.”

Gear Up’s Saint-Cloud victory indicated stamina will be a significant asset, and Johnston has been encouraged by his progression at home since.

“He did well over the winter,” said the Middleham trainer.

“He was extremely green when he won at York first time – but when he went back for the Acomb nobody was expecting him to step up quite the way he did.

“Franny (Norton) said after the Royal Lodge that it wasn’t his running – and he called James Doyle before the French race to tell him to make plenty of use of him.”

High Definition left in Dante at confirmation stage

High Definition is among 18 confirmations for Thursday’s Al Basti Equiworld Dante Stakes at York.

Aidan O’Brien’s unbeaten colt lost his position at the head of the ante-post market on the Cazoo Derby after an unsatisfactory blood test earlier this week.

O’Brien had intended to run the son of Galileo in Saturday’s Derby Trial at Lingfield, but there is a chance he could reappear on the Knavesmire should all go well in the meantime, with the Ballydoyle admitting it would be “very hard” to go to Epsom without a prep race.

Aidan O'Brien and Seamie Heffernan with High Definition
Aidan O’Brien and Seamie Heffernan with High Definition (PA)

O’Brien has also left in Hector De Maris, Matchless, Roman Empire, Sir Lamorak, Van Gogh and Wordsworth.

One trainer who has always had this race in mind for his Derby hope is Mark Johnston with Gear Up.

The only Group One winner left among the potential field having won the Criterium de Saint-Cloud over 10 furlongs last year, Gear Up will be making his seasonal reappearance.

“All is well. The Derby seems to be quite wide open, but no one seems to be talking about us!” said Johnston.

“He’s a Group One-winning two-year-old with York form.

“He’s only got one blot on his copybook when Franny (Norton) felt he didn’t make enough use of him in the Royal Lodge.

“Franny is the only one to be beaten on him, but I wouldn’t hold that against him as he told us as much about the horse as anybody. I don’t know who rides him next week yet.”

John Leeper, one of the most beautifully-bred horses in training being by Frankel out of Snow Fairy, will aim to build on his impressive Newcastle success for Ed Dunlop.

Charlie Appleby’s Hurricane Lane is another unbeaten contender, with stablemate Adayar also standing his ground, although he is declared to run at Lingfield on Saturday.

John and Thady Gosden could be doubly represented by Newcastle Listed winner Megallan and Uncle Bryn, who lost his perfect record in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom.

William Haggas’ Alenquer, the Sandown Classic Trial winner, may also run.

On the same card is the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Stakes, for which nine remain.

Jessica Harrington can call upon Cayenne Pepper and Silence Please, while O’Brien’s sole representative is Passion.

Chamade (Ralph Beckett), Cabaletta (Roger Varian), Bharani Star (Peter Chapple-Hyam), Freyja (Johnston), Oriental Star (David Simcock) and Queen Power (Sir Michael Stoute) complete the list.

Gear Up on target for Dante

Gear Up is set to put his Classic credentials on the line in the Al Basti Equiworld Dante Stakes at York next month.

The Mark Johnston-trained colt is a general 33-1 chance for the Cazoo Derby, after he ended his juvenile campaign with a Group One victory in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud in October.

Johnston has had the Group Two Dante in mind as a starting point for Gear Up for some time.

“Obviously we haven’t run him yet, but the plan is to go to the Dante and that still is the plan at the moment,” he said.

“Everything has gone fine.”

Dante date for Hurricane Lane

Charlie Appleby’s unbeaten colt Hurricane Lane will put his Classic credentials on the line in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.

Unbeaten in two outings, the son of Frankel comfortably got the better of a much more experienced rival at Newbury on just his second outing.

That display persuaded Appleby that it was worth stepping up in class with a colt – who was recently added to the Cazoo Derby field.

“The Dante is usually a very good trial for the Derby, and Hurricane Lane is worthy of having a crack at it,” said Appleby.

The Newmarket trainer has plenty of depth to his three-year-old squad this season. He is set to be doubly represented in the 2000 Guineas by Master Of The Seas and One Ruler, and supplied the second and third in the Sandown Classic Trial in Adayar and Yibir.

“On all evidence so far, Adayar is going to appreciate stepping up in trip, which could be in the Lingfield Derby Trial,” he told www.godolphin.com.

“But he doesn’t want the ground too quick, so he has the Dante at York as alternative.

“I was very pleased with Yibir’s seasonal debut. He is only going to get better when he gets to a mile and a half, which he will get in the Chester Vase, his next race.

“I also plan to send Wirko (Epsom’s Blue Riband Trial winner) to Chester for the Dee Stakes. It will be more good experience for him. The Epsom race was a ‘win and you’re in’ for the Derby — we already know he can handle the track.

La Barrosa, who chased home Master Of The Seas in the Craven, will head for the French Guineas.

Appleby added: “He has done well since the Craven, and it is best to put a line though his previous run in France in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud (when fifth). He did not like the heavy ground.

“We are very encouraged by the signs so far and excited with what we have. We are always looking for the next three-year-old champion, and we are very happy the way this group are developing.”

Francesco Guardi set to return this month

James Ferguson is planning to give Francesco Guardi his three-year-old debut this month.

The Newmarket trainer reports the Frankel colt to have thrived over the winter and is looking forward to stepping up him in trip, with a mile-and-a-quarter the likely starting point.

“I’m very happy with him. He’s in full work, and we’re looking forward to getting him back out,” said Ferguson.

“I’m probably going to aim him for something in the middle of April, probably over a mile-and-a-quarter. What I go for, I’m not really sure yet.”

Ferguson has given Franceso Guardi an entry in the Al Basti Equiworld Dante Stakes at York in May – in case he shows he deserves to have a crack at the Group Two, a recognised Derby trial.

“The thing about entering him in the Dante is that it’s one of those races, if you find out you’re good enough and you’re not in it, it’s a shame you’re not,” he said.

“He’s working very well. He’s always been a very relaxed, laid-back horse. He probably takes a while to get really ready.”

Francesco Guardi made a promising start to his career with a winning debut at Salisbury in July, and then finished a close third over the same trip of seven furlongs in a Listed contest at Newbury.

However, he blotted his copybook when last of four over a mile at Yarmouth – after jumping a road crossing in what turned out to be his final start as a juvenile in mid-September.

“He was not bred to be a two-year-old – he’s bred to be an older horse and want a trip,” added Ferguson.

“When he ran first time out he was a bit gormless, and then he proved how gormless he was at Yarmouth, but I really like him and am thrilled with what he’s done.

“He’s put on plenty of condition and he’s filled out with muscle, and I think he’s going to come into his own this year.”