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Dubai contenders seek Derby boost

Three-day day Dante Festival at York to provide several Classic clues

Gulf News

Dubai: Five colts with a Dubai connection will be looking to lay down a marker for the Epsom Derby when they line-up to contest the Group 2 Dante Stakes, the highlight on the second day of York’s three-day Dante Festival meeting and a rich source for future Derby winners.

Four of them represent Godolphin, including the Charlie Appleby-trained Wolf Country (William Buick), fresh from a winning seasonal debut at Saint-Cloud, Kevin Ryan’s Syphax (Jamie Spencer), a noteworthy runner-up on the Newcastle all-weather, the David Elsworth-trained Swiss Storm (Jim Crowley), an effortless winner of his maiden, and Godolphin’s very own Saeed Bin Surour, who saddles Crave Stakes (G3) third Benbatl.

Mark Johnston seeks a career first Dante victory as he sends out Permian for Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.

Elsworth, who had been hoping to run Swiss in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket two weeks ago, said: “He just didn’t ‘arrive’ in time for the Guineas.”

Meanwhile, Godolphin aim three at the Group 2 Duke of York Stakes, which has attracted several high-class sprinters, led by last year’s winner Magical Memory.

All three horses are trained by Appleby, produced some creditable effort at Meydan during the Carnival.

Jungle Cat (William Buick) landed the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint before going on to finish fourth in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night on March 25.

Comicas (James Doyle) was a respectable second to high-class American speedball Mind Your Biscuits in the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, while Baccarat (Adam Kirby) has a lot to find on form after finishing down the field in the Al Quoz Sprint.

However, the Godolphin sprinters will have their work cut out for them as they meet the first three in last season’s Group 1 British Champions Sprint — The Tin Man, Growl and Brando.

Appleby commented: “There was a lot of rain in Dubai prior to World Cup night, meaning that the ground went against both Jungle Cat and Baccarat in the Al Quoz Sprint.

“Jungle Cat had previously put together a good set of performances on quicker going and, if he can reproduce those efforts, he should be competitive on a sounder surface.

“It is the same situation with Baccarat — the ground is a key factor to him.

“All three horses have come back from Dubai in good order and I have been very happy with their training.”

Godolphin’s classy filly Sobetsu will sidestep the Group 1 Epsom Oaks in favour of the Group 1 Prix de Diane at Chantilly on Sunday.

Features Races

Dante Festival May 16-18


6:30pm Clipper Logistics Stakes (G2) 6f

4:05pm Musidora Stakes (G3) 10f


5:55pm Middleton Stakes (G2) 10f

6:30pm Dante Stakes (G2) 10f


6:30pm Yorkshire Cup (G2) 11f