Dante Ups The Ante
We’ve seen several trials for the June Classic’s at Epsom meeting come and go but the Dante on Thursday stands on it’s own right as a very serious race that will take a lot of winning, not just advertising of well being a month in advance of the big day.
Jack Hobbs, Elm Park and John F Kennedy line up as the current front three in the market for the Investec Derby so no hiding places remain come this afternoon and each put their credentials very much on the line. The remainder of the field could well be harboring something better with the likes of Ol’ Man River, Nafaqa, Lord Ben Stack, Medrano and a second Gosden entry Golden Horn yet to show what they could still have to offer as we approach the main part of the summer this Flat season.
Jack Hobbs has the most to prove but also perhaps the biggest weight of expectation having soared to the top of the market in recent weeks after a facile and impressive win at Sandown last time out.
“The Dante is renowned to be the best trial and I think this year it looks the strongest Everyone has avoided the soft ground here, there and everywhere and turned up at York. He toyed with his handicap mark, but now he’s taking on the big boys and we’ll see what he’s made of. His work has been tidy. I’ve been happy with him and I’m as excited as everybody. I want to see what he’s made of. – Frankie Dettori rider of Jack Hobbs.
John Gosden accepts the challenge is perhaps steeper than the market would suggest, rising so quickly from handicap company to taking on the big gun juveniles from last season.
“Jack Hobbs and Golden Horn are in different Derbies. Jack Hobbs only won a handicap off 85 and I think people are getting carried away. I think the bookmakers are just trying to create a market when there isn’t one. Jack Hobbs had only worked on the bridle at home, but he obviously has lots of ability. He has a huge frame and my concern is that it is all coming a bit early for him.”
Aidan O’Brien will hope his two runners Ol’ Man River and John F Kennedy can repair their Derby credentials after poor returns this season. “They are both coming into it off disappointing runs. John F Kennedy disappointed at Leopardstown, but it was a while ago and the ground was heavy. Hopefully he can leave that run behind. Ol’ Man River disappointed in the Guineas, but maybe he wasn’t ready mentally and it was probably the wrong thing to run him.”
Andrew Balding saddles a very obvious candidate for the race and the Derby itself with his stable star Elm Park and has been very much looking forward to getting him back having skipped the 2000 Guineas due to the ground. “Elm Park seems very well and this has been his intended starting point since we were forced to miss the 2000 Guineas, We felt that the ground at Newmarket was a bit quick to have his first run of the year on. I think he will come on for the run but he’s done enough at home and goes there in good shape.”
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