Day 2 of York’s Dante meeting with the feature race the Dante Stakes due to be off at 15.35. The ITV cameras are also showing a 2-year-old conditions race from Salisbury. The ground is drying at both tracks with good at York and slightly slower at good to soft at Salisbury. Here are my best racing tips to beat the bookies.
The day’s action starts with a 14 runner 5F 4-year-olds and upwards class 2 handicap. Tim Easterby’s Copper Knight has won two of the last three renewals of this race (he was 8th last year) and must have claims although he’s not getting any younger at 9 years of age. John Butler’s Designer won over course and distance at the Ebor meeting last August and comes into the equation having had a run already this season but is 10lb higher now than that win and may need to come down the handicap a bit before visiting the winners enclosure again.
Roger Teal’s Whenthedealisdone ran well enough at Goodwood racecourse a fortnight ago to suggest he can play a part in the finish especially with William Buick booked.
Karl Burke’s Korker is my idea of the winner though. A winner of a three-year-old only 5F handicap at this meeting last year, he kept good company after without winning and a down the field run in a Group 3 at Newmarket on possibly unsuitable soft ground 12 days ago prompted a further 2lb drop in the weights putting him just 5lb higher than last year’s 2 1/2L success. He has been slowly away before so that’s something to bear in mind. Burke has his string in fine form and with his regular pilot Clifford Lee on board can run well each way.
KORKER 1 point each way @ 8/1 with Betfred Promo Code 1/5th 1234
Off to Wiltshire for a 5F two-year-old fillies conditions stakes contest featuring two penalised winners. The William Haggas-trained Relief Rally won well at Windsor on her debut and incurs a 4lb penalty here. That form has been boosted since by the 8L fifth winning since by 5L and she should go well.
Eve Johnson Houghton appears to have a good bunch of juveniles this season and saddles easy Bath winner Juniper Berries. That form is beginning to work out very well with the 3rd and 4th (by 5L) both winning since. She is only penalised 2lb for that victory and has to be the pick here en route to Royal Ascot if all goes well.
A market watch must be kept on the two unraced fillies from the more than capable yards of Ralph Beckett and Clive Cox who both receive an unraced allowance of 3lb.
The other pair raced against each other over course and distance a fortnight with Rod Millman’s Chinese Knot running well to finish third and is not out of this.
With her form working out well it has to be Juniper Berries for me though.
JUNIPER BERRIES 2 points win @ 6/5 with BetVictor Promo Code
The Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Stakes is up next. A Group 2 contest for 4-year-old fillies and mares only run over 1M 2 1/2F of the Knavesmire has attracted a field of eight.
Clear favourite and officially 6lb and more ahead of her rivals is the John and Thady Gosden-trained Free Wind, who looked a progressive mare last season when blitzing her opponents on her only run in the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock in July on soft ground. She has good winning Group form on fast ground as well so the drying ground shouldn’t be an issue for her. She has however not been seen since that impressive win and at a rather skinny price it may pay to look for something each way against her as long as the dead eight all run.
The one that interests me is the Richard Hannon-trained, Sean Levey-ridden Aristia who started out in this race last year when finishing runner up to to Lilac Road at 20/1. She finished her season by winning the Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville for which she picks up a 3lb penalty today. Each way she looks the value if straight enough (she won first time out as a two-year-old as well as her good run in this a year ago).
Roger Varian has taken charge of the German Oaks winner from last season Toscana Belle who also has picked up a 3lb penalty for that Group 1 victory.
Sea Silk Road races for the William Haggas team and had some good form last season though I’m still a bit worried about the form of the Newmarket handler.
The most likeliest winner has to be Free Wind but Aristia each way appeals as better value.
ARISTIA 1 point each way @ 5/1 with Bet365 Bonus Code – Places 123 (1/5)
A cracking renewal with a maximum field of twenty assemble for the Sky Bet Hambleton Handicap run over just short of a mile of the Knavesmire. Last year’s one-two Cruyff Turn and Brunch are back to renew battle and on identical terms there’s likely to be little between them again although the former appears to have fared best with the drawn in stall 3. Both are one pound lower than last year.
The likely favourite and well-found in the market is the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Assessment who has plenty going for him beside his price at around the 3/1 mark. He won a one-mile all-weather handicap at Kempton, his first run since being gelded, last month with a 6lb rise and a nice draw in stall 9 looks the one to beat.
Nigel Tinkler’s Isla Kai likes this track and has fallen in the weights although a wide draw in stall 18 is not ideal.
Karl Burke’s Eileen Dubh also has claims having won twice over course and distance last season and can run well although he too has to navigate from a high draw in 15.
One horse who does appeal to me at a price is Astro King, who it must be said was a bit of an underachiever when trained by Sir Michael Stoute at Newmarket although he did place in the Royal Hunt Cup off of a mark of 98 and behind Cruyff Turn over course and distance off of 102 back in 2021. Things didn’t pan out that well last season although he did finish 4th in the Royal Hunt Cup off of 102 when going off favourite. He’s left Stoute’s now for what appears to be a cheap £36,000 for a horse now rated 99 and joined the husband and wife team of Daniel and Claire Kubler at Lambourn. He’s won first time out twice before so maybe an absence of 215 days is not a bad thing and a plum draw in 4 makes him look even more interesting.
A very tough handicap with Assessment the one to beat but no value at the price so I’ll take a chance each way with additional places with Astro King.
ASTRO KING 1 point each way @ 22/1 with William Hill Promo Code – Places 123456 (1/5th)
A fascinating renewal of the meeting’s feature race the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes run over 1M 2 1/2F with a healthy-sized field of a dozen three-year-old colts attempting to put their case forward for the Epsom Derby in two weeks’ time.
James Ferguson’s Canberra Legend is unbeaten in two including at Newmarket in listed company at the Craven meeting. He’s hard to assess but looks smart.
In the same ‘could be anything’ bracket is the Sir Michael Stoute runner Passenger who ran away with the Wood Ditton at Newmarket on his only run and represents last year’s winning trainer and jockey combo of Stoute and Richard Kingscote who won with Desert Crown last year before going on to take the Derby a fortnight later.
We have two Irish runners in the Aidan O’Brien-trained unbeaten colt Continous under Ryan Moore and the Ballysax winner White Birch trained by John Joseph Murphy and ridden by Shane Foley. The latter would be the preferred of the pair and could be useful.
The Godolphin operation have Flying Honours who is only officially rated a pound behind the top-rated here who is Andrew Balding’s The Foxes, last seen when runner up in the Craven at Newmarket.
Throw in the Gosden’s Epsom Trial winner Epictetus and we have an intriguing contest which should unravel the pecking order for the Epsom Derby.
From a punting view the race looks very tough to assess but I was very taken by Passenger’s win at Newmarket and I’ll play to small stakes each way in the hope that Sir Michael Stoute has another potential Derby winner in his care.
PASSENGER 1 point each way @ 11/2 with Paddy Power Promo Code – Places 1234 (1/5th)
Eleven speedy three-year-olds line up for this listed 5F British EBF 40th Anniversary Weston Stakes. It has quite an open feel about it with the joint two officially rated both making their seasonal re-appearances. Rocket Rodney was a smart juvenile for George Scott winning twice and placed in Group company including when going down by a neck to Little Big Bear at Royal Ascot. He can be competitive if ready to go after a 259 day layoff along with David Loughnane’s Walbank who reappears following a 295 day absence with a first-time tongue tie fitted.
Owners Clipper Logistics who love to have winners at York racecourse have two here in Karl Burke’s Pillow Talk and Kevin Ryan’s Silent Word. Both are speedy types who could run well.
The hard one to assess has to be the Aidan O’Brien-trained Hispanic who is officially only 4lb behind the highest rated and with Ryan Moore on top is another potential player.
One horse who we know will be fit is the Declan Carroll-trained Changeofmind who looked all about speed when beating subsequent winner Tawalla by 3L at Catterick three weeks ago and although this represents a step up in grade could be a bit of each way value here. Ridden by Harrison Shaw he can run well here and in an open contest is a tentative selection.
CHANGEOFMIND 1 point each way 7/1 with Virgin Bet Bonus Code – Places 123 (1/5th)
All odds are accurate at the time of writing.