Godolphin mob-handed in Dante Stakes at York

By Geoffrey Riddle@Louchepunter
Sun 14 May 2017

By Geoffrey Riddle in Deauville

Godolphin are set to run all four of their entries in the Betfred Dante Stakes at York on Thursday.

Kevin Ryan’s Syphax, David Elsworth’s Swiss Storm, Charlie Appleby’s Wolf Country and Saeed bin Suroor’s Benbatl all will be given the opportunity to put forward their case on the Knavesmire for the Investec Derby on June 3.

Permian, trained by Mark Johnston and owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s son, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, is a fifth string for the Dubai royal family and was one of two horses to be supplemented at a cost of £12,000 alongside Simon Crisford’s Century Dream. The quintet were among 21 horses to go forward at the confirmation stage on Saturday.

“I think we’ll run five,” Godolphin CEO John Ferguson said here in France. “It makes sense because they’re with five different trainers. Wolf Country, who won in Paris, he’ll step up on that. We’ve got Syphax, who was second at Newcastle and won the Acomb, he’s with Kevin Ryan. We’ve got Benbatl who was third in the Craven; Swiss Storm, David Elsworth’s horse, and we’ve got Permian with that very good form from Epsom behind Cracksman and then goes on and wins the Newmarket Stakes really well.

“You can use the Dante to sort out where you go with these horses. We need to put the best horses in the best races.”

Cracksman, who won the Epsom Derby Trial, heads the betting for the Knavesmire Group Two at Betfair’s 9-4, while Rekindling, trained by Joseph O’Brien is 11-2 with Coral and William Hill and Sir Michael Stoute's maiden winner Crystal Ocean is a general 6-1.

The first of the Godolphin contenders in the market is Benbatl, who is no bigger than 10-1, the same price as Permian. Swiss Storm and Syphax are 14-1.

When asked about which horse was being given the most favourable reports from their respective trainers, Ferguson added: “I spoke to David Elsworth this morning [Saturday] about Swiss Storm and he is very happy with him now. He is an interesting horse. He has a lot of speed on the dam’s side but these Frankel’s look like they are going to stay on. 

“All the trainers say their horses are in fantastic form. They wouldn’t be going for a Dante if they weren’t happy with their horses. After the Guineas it is the premier Derby trial so we will see how we go.”

So far this season only two horses have bettered Aidan O'Brien's battalions in recognised Derby trials. Godolphin's Best Solution won in good style at Lingfield on Saturday at the expense of Ballydoyle's 11-8 favourite Sir John Lavery. 

The other to do so was Rekindling, who beat the subsequent Derrinstown Derby Trial one-two-three Douglas Macarthur, Yucatan and Capri in the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown last month.

That was his first start of the season, having last run down the field in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud in October on what was his final start for retiring trainer David Wachman. 

O’Brien never won the Dante Stakes as a jockey, and the 23-year-old was hopeful about getting off the mark as a trainer with the son of 2002 Derby winner High Chaparral.

“We were delighted with his reappearance – his first run for us,” he said. "He’s a quite laid-back horse so it’s very hard to know how good he is. 


“He never is a horse that sparkles at home, so you have to kind of take things for granted and look forward to him on the racecourse.


“We were hopeful he’d run well but we were over the moon, obviously, when he won.

“We’ve been very happy with him since. He seems in good form and the plan is to go onto the Dante. It will be a very competitive race, I’m sure. We’re looking forward to it.


“He won one of the Derby trials in Ireland. At the minute, he has all the credentials to be an Epsom Derby candidate. I suppose he has to go to York and show us that he is.

“It’s unbelievable to have a horse to think about even going to a Derby.”

O’Brien senior has entered seven in Belgravia, Exemplar, Sir Edwin Landseer, Taj Mahal, War Decree, War Secretary and Sir John Lavery.

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