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Notes And Angles: Chris Dixon's tips for York's Dante Festival

By Chris Dixon@cdixon82
Wed 11 May 2022

Click here to read previous editions of Chris Dixon's Notes And Angles column.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the last time I penned this column, but at least a few winners have popped up from those horses suggested for the Racing TV tracker over the past few weeks, and although confidence in my ante-post selection for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas had been knocked after seeing Native Trail win his trial so well, Coreubus landing the first Classic of the season was hopefully a good result for a few regular readers of this column.

The usual focus here is on horses that are worth adding to your Racing TV tracker and I’m putting forward a couple of handicappers that I think are ready to win soon, as well as a few horses from the Victoria Cup to keep an eye on.

On the eve of York’s Dante meeting, one of my favourites of the year, I’m honing in on one horse to take note of on each of the three days. Don’t forget, you will be able to watch every race on the Knavesmire live on Racing TV this week.



MINZAAL

Trainer: Owen Burrows.

Race: 1895 Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes - (3.00pm, Wednesday).

Minzaal was last seen finishing third in the Champions Sprint at Ascot

Minzaal looked like a Group One sprinter in the making when taking the Gimcrack here a couple of seasons back and has clearly had an issue or two to have only managed three starts since.

It’s to his credit that he ran as well as he did in a couple of outings at the backend of last season, including in the Champions Sprint at Ascot in October, given he’d missed the campaign to that point, and I suspect he’s going to make up for lost time as a four-year-old.

From a stable that have saddled three winners from four runners so far this month, I expect he’ll be pretty straight for his seasonal return and with a level of form achieved that is not far behind the best on offer – the official handicapper has him as joint pick of the weights – I’m going to have to back him at around 3-1, with my belief that there’s better still to come.

A win here would see him shorten up for a tilt at Royal Ascot, most likely in the Platinum Jubilee over 6f, so the 14-1 on offer for that race also makes plenty of appeal ahead of this contest.


TRAIS FLUORS

Trainer: Mick Channon.

Race: Paddy Power Hambleton Handicap - 3.00pm, Thursday.

Watch how Trais Fluors fared at Newbury on his seasonal return

I thought Isla Kai shaped very well at Newbury last time out and he still looks a well-handicapped horse off his mark of 100, with that reappearance run likely to have brought him on. However, his draw in stall 15 isn’t especially kind and the early market has him well found as 6-1 favourite.

At a slightly bigger price (generally 8-1) I prefer the claims of Trais Fluors who was only two and a half lengths behind him at Newbury, when also making his return to action, and it was worth marking up that effort as he raced on what I thought was the unfavourable part of the track.

Subsequently beaten in the Thirsk Hunt Cup, that race got nowhere near to the bottom of him after he was denied a clear passage through, but he looked in good form and off an attractive rating, with the race likely to be run to suit, he makes plenty of each-way appeal.


CRUSH AND RUN

Trainer: Richard Hughes.

Race: Longines Irish Champions Weekend Handicap - 5.20pm, Friday.

Crush And Run finished second at Nottingham last time out

Without seeing the final field, and the draw or any prices, I can’t put up Crush And Run as a bet at this stage, but he is a horse I suspect I will be interested in backing on Friday.

Second to Justcallmepete (who has twice shaped well in defeat since) at Southwell in March, he stepped forward from that form when narrowly beaten in a tight finish behind Sandbeck at Nottingham last month.

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Close to an overly strong pace there, he did well to make an improving winner work as hard as he did and pulled well clear of the third, who has since come out to win well at Windsor.

Nudged up 4lb since, Crush And Run still looks well-handicapped off a rating in the low 70’s. At a track that should play to his strengths, I’m expecting a big run on Friday.


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KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR RAASEL

With a bit of luck there’s a winner or two amongst that trio above, but I’d take three losers now in return for a win from our horse Raasel in the opener on Thursday, and you might hear me from a fair way down the track if he comes through to challenge under James Doyle, who knows him very well.

He goes in there in great form, and I believe he’s still a well-handicapped horse, despite now being rated 101, but it’s a competitive race, the draw might not be ideal and he’s been well found in the market, so I don’t have that much interest in backing him, unless he drifts. I’m certainly hopeful he can at least go close with luck on his side, though.


HORSES FOR YOUR RACING TV TRACKER

Onto a couple of horses that I stuck into the notebook following recent Racing TV shifts on track, plus a few horses to note from the wrong part of the track in the Victoria Cup.

LYRICAL LADY

Trainer: Hughie Morrison.

James Doyle judged the fractions perfectly aboard Phantasy Mac as she brought up the hat-trick at Nottingham on Friday night, and I thought Lyrical Lady did very well to get as close as she did from the back of the field.

Held up early, she made her ground in eye-catching fashion down the outside from 3f out to 2f out, but her effort petered out slightly after that big move into contention.

The way she shaped suggests to me she has a bit in hand off her current mark and she’s likely to show that’s the case when racing in a more strongly run contest, which I expect will provide her optimum test.

CANARIA PRINCE

Trainer: Tim Easterby.

Canaria Prince may only have a limited level of ability, but he has more talent than a mark of 47 suggests and he can win a low-grade handicap or two for Tim Easterby this summer.

Sent to Thirsk for his seasonal return on Saturday, he disputed a very strong pace from an early stage and hung around much longer than anything else that raced close up to be beaten less than two lengths into third.

He won’t always be asked to go so quick so early in a race and in a more suitable scenario, he might have too much pace for what could be some limited enough rivals at the level he’s able to contest. He’s one to note when getting his chance in a 0-60 handicap or lower.


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ANGLE TO NOTE

As is often the case in big field handicaps, the draw appeared to have a major bearing on the Victoria Cup at Ascot on Saturday, with those drawn low and racing more in the centre of the track at a significant disadvantage.

Three of those to run well, despite their draws, were Ropey Guest (5th from stall 6), Star Of Orion (8th from stall 8) and Dark Shift (11th from stall 4), so each of that trio, along with a few others, are well worth making up.

The three mentioned all appeal as well-handicapped horses when things go their way and are up to winning a good handicap this season, with the Royal Meeting back at Ascot likely to be on the agenda for them all.

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