Dante Festival 2017 Review
York’s Dante Festival once again produced a fantastic three days of action on the Knavesmire in Yorkshire. The meeting is always supported by the leading owners and trainers as they see this racecourse as the perfect test for many of their Classic hopefuls, particularly the Oaks and Derby at Epsom, which are just a few weeks away.
Unfortunately, the weather played a big part in this year’s Dante Festival as the ground was officially soft throughout, which did not suit a large number of the horses. It did not stop the crowds from flocking into York, though, which also hosted the sixth Women in Racing AGM on day one of the meeting.
Here is a look at what we learned from the three days at the 2017 Dante Festival and what we can take going into the next two English Classics at Epsom.
Dante Throws Up More Questions Than Answers
This year’s Dante Stakes was meant to make the Derby picture a lot clearer for punters; however, with Cracksman’s late withdrawal from the race due to the ground, we still don’t have a clear favourite for the most prestigious contest on the British calendar. Credit does have to go to Permian, though, who out-battled his rivals in the race to put himself in the Derby contention. Before the Dante, Mark Johnstone’s runner did not have an entry for Epsom, but connections wasted no time to supplement their horse for the 1m4f contest next month, where bookies have installed him in their sports betting at 10/1, as of May 22, 2017, which means he only has two horses ahead of him in the market. Ten of the 58 winners of the Dante have gone on to win the Derby. St Paddy was the first horse to do so in 1960, while more recently, Golden Horn did the double in 2015. The Grey Gatsby won the race in 2014 but opted to run in France and ended up winning the Prix du Jockey-Club, also known as the French Derby.
Johnstone will be hoping for rain ahead of Epsom as that will enhance his runner’s chances as he clearly enjoys a bit of cut in the ground. The victory for Permian not only ensured he would be given his chance in the Derby, but it also boosted the form of Cracksman as John Gosden’s runner got the better of the Dante winner at Epsom last month in the Derby Trial. Connections will be hoping their horse can follow in the footsteps of Golden Horn who ran in the same silks to glory in the 2015 Derby. Cracksman is not expected to run before Epsom now. He will, however, feature at the Racecourse Owners Association‘s Breakfast With The Stars event on the Downs where he will have a racecourse gallop in front of the world’s press.
Shutter Speed Set For Trip To France
Shutter Speed maintained her 100% record on the track with Victory in the Group Three Musidora Stakes on day one of the meeting at York. The three-year-old filly had no problems on the soft ground as she beat her four rivals by just under two lengths. Ridden by British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre ambassador Frankie Dettori, the daughter of Dansili tracked the leading pair and hit the front at the two-furlong pole before pulling away towards the finish line. Connections have suggested that their next race is likely to be the Prix de Diane – the French Oaks at Chantilly rather than the English Oaks at Epsom. Gosden won the race in France in 2015 with Star of Seville; however, only two English trained horses have been successful in the contest in the last 20 years.
Aidan O’Brien’s Rhododendron continues to top the Oaks betting at Epsom at 7/4. The 1000 Guineas runner-up is expected to improve for the step up to 1m4f where she is set to take on the Cheshire Oaks winner Enable and Cornet, who is Gosden’s leading chance in the race. The Oaks takes place on Friday, June 2 live on ITV1, while the Derby will feature 24 hours later on the same channel. The latest weather forecasts suggest the weather will be dry therefore the most likely ground for the meeting will be good.