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Runner-by-runner guide to the Betfred Dante Stakes at York

Thu 18 May 2017

Who wins the Dante at York on Thursday? Oliver Brett runs his eye over the entries, plus watch galloping clues, analysis and interviews

By Oliver Brett

1. BENBATL

Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor - two Dante wins, one Derby (Lammtarra, 1995)

General odds: 8-1

Derby odds: 33-1

Does not possess the best form of the three colts wholly owned by Godolphin in this race, but the market suggests this son of Dubawi is their likeliest winner.

Needs to have improved markedly since finishing third in the Craven Stakes considering both the horses who finished in front of him that day were beaten three lengths plus in subsequent (albeit Group 1) races.

2. CONTRAPPOSTO

Trainer: David Menuisier

General odds: 40-1

Derby odds: 100-1

A not unexpected ninth of 10 in the Racing Post Trophy last October, and midfield in the Craven in only run since. Nothing in breeding to suggest much-needed dramatic improvement is on the way.

3. CRACKSMAN

Trainer: John Gosden - three Dantes, two Derbies (Benny The Dip, 1997 and Golden Horn, 2015)

General odds: 11-4

Derby odds: 7-1

It is easier to be seduced by the Gosden-Dettori-Oppenheimer combination that produced Golden Horn than the bare form he has shown so far, notably when struggling to get past Permian (see below) in the Epsom Derby Trial.

The added spice is that he is a potential flag-carrier for the first wave of Frankel three-year-olds. Failed to settle early at Epsom but should find that side of things easier on the Knavesmire and if he does must run a big race on Thursday.

4. CRYSTAL OCEAN

Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute - six Dantes, five Derbies between 1981 & 2010 (Shergar, Shahrastani, Kris Kin, North Light & Workforce)

General odds: 100-30

Derby odds: 12-1

It is a mark of the perceived weakness of the three-year-old middle-distance colts that the winner of the Hucknall Sheet Metal 40th Anniversary Maiden Stakes (Nottingham, 22 April) is clear second favourite for this and prominent in the Derby market too.

Never forget that Workforce had a similarly low profile when destroying his rivals at Epsom seven years ago, and that was after losing the Dante.

But there have been other "talking horses" from Sir Michael's yard who have taken longer to come to full fruition.

5. EXEMPLAR

Trainer: Aidan O'Brien - four Dantes, five Derbies between 2001 & 2014 (Galileo, High Chaparral, Camelot, Ruler Of The World, Australia)

General odds: 9-1

Derby odds: 33-1

The trainer nonpareil of our times has not tended to favour the Dante as a workout for the best of his Derby contenders.

It is telling that none of his four York winners have gone on to win at Epsom and O'Brien appears to have played his aces in other trials this year once again. That said, Exemplar is a Galileo half-brother to Blue Bunting and he won his maiden last year on soft ground which he will get again at York.

6. FOREST RANGER

Trainer: Richard Fahey

General odds: 20-1

Derby odds: n/a

Produced a pleasing last-to-first performance to win a valuable conditions race over a mile on the all-weather track at Newcastle (14 April) with Syphax (see below) beaten nearly three lengths into second place.

This will be a completely different test and he may struggle to show his best in rain-softened ground too but has interesting claims if others disappoint.

7. PERMIAN

Trainer: Mark Johnston

General odds: 14-1

Derby odds: n/a

Rebounded from narrow defeat to Cracksman (see above) to win a fairly thin Listed event at Newmarket 10 days later.

This event will be his fourth start of the season but stable excels in turning horses around quickly. Was a solid if unspectacular two-year-old and is arguably not open to as much improvement as others.

8. REKINDLING

Trainer: Joseph O'Brien

General odds: 7-1

Derby odds: 14-1

Won on first start for fledgling trainer when a bold placement in the early-season Group 3 Ballysax Stakes was rewarded with a pleasing win over three colts trained by his father.

That trio then filled the frame in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial so the form looks seriously solid and there's plenty to suggest that this son of High Chaparral could be a very exciting prospect.

9. SWISS STORM

Trainer: David Elsworth (one Dante win - Salford Express, 1999)

General odds: 16-1

Derby odds: n/a

By Frankel out of a mare, Swiss Lake, who has produced a string of consistent performers, this colt does not appear bred for a trip beyond a mile and that may explain why he has no Derby entry.

Made a decent impression in winning a solid Newbury maiden last September but nothing to go on since then.

10. SYPHAX

Trainer: Kevin Ryan (one Dante win - The Grey Gatsby, 2014)

General odds: 20-1

Derby odds: 66-1

Closest of seven rivals behind Forest Ranger (see above) at Newcastle last month, this US-bred colt won the Group 3 Acomb Stakes as a two-year-old under a classic Jamie Spencer hold-up ride.

Looks well enough equipped to outrun his odds but should still struggle to hit the frame.

11. WOLF COUNTRY

Trainer: Charlie Appleby

General odds: 16-1

Derby odds: 33-1

Does not hold a Derby entry but after watching him win a Listed event over a mile and a half at Saint Cloud on 1 May (eased down in closing stages) connections will surely be willing to stump up a supplement should he then go on and win on Thursday too. The trainer's string have been in fine form.

CONCLUSION: With Derby watchers crying out for clear-cut clues, a taking win from either Cracksman or Crystal Ocean would help settle some arguments at least. Neither present rock-solid cases for Dante success, however, so REKINDLING - assuming he's trained on since his Ballysax win - is the suggestion for a small investment in the race.

Want to get the Dante juices flowing a bit more? Watch six of the best below

 

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