CROSSED BATON AIMED AT BETFRED DANTE STAKES

CROSSED Baton has already been victorious in one Investec Derby trial – now he is set for another with connections confirming his intended appearance in the Betfred Dante Stakes at York on Thursday.

Prince Khalid Abdullah’s homebred colt made it three wins in four career starts when successful in the Investec Blue Riband Trial at Epsom last month.

He showed talent and tenacity in making all the running to win the Listed race by a head from My Lord And Master with Dee Ex Bee a further length and a quarter behind. The form already has a solid look to it with the runner-up and third-placed horse both finishing second in subsequent Epsom trials at Chester this week.

The John Gosden-trained Crossed Baton is now set for the stiffest assignment of his career to date, having been one of 15 horses to remain in the Group 2 Betfred Dante Stakes at yesterday’s latest entry stage.

Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager to Prince Khalid, said: “Crossed Baton worked pleasingly on Friday morning and is an intended runner in the Dante.

“I felt it was a very solid performance at Epsom. It’s always difficult to make all there and he did that. The form is at least appreciable.

“With the Derby all things become engrossing and he has come through an Epsom trial, progressed pretty nicely physically and in his work he is going the right way.

“So he deserves a shot at the Dante. I think that will give us a pretty good idea. Then you have to look at what’s going (to Epsom) and assess your chances as realistically as possible.

“Obviously if there’s a chance he could be a serious Derby contender we want to give him that chance.”

Crossed Baton is just one of many exciting horses left in the extended 10-furlong race worth £165,000.

The famous pink and green colours of Prince Khalid Abdullah may also be represented in the card’s other Group 2 – the Betfred Middleton Stakes, this time by Mori. This filly is one of nine in a select entry for the extended mile and a quarter race that has been won in recent times by top-class performers such as Sariska.

Mori, a homebred daughter out of Midday (herself a winner of this contest back in 2011), looked a potential star when winning in Listed company at Goodwood before being narrowly edged in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot last season. Though her final two runs of the year saw her form dip, when softer underfoot conditions may have counted against her.

Lord Grimthorpe said: “Everything Mori has been doing recently says she is back on track. So far everything has gone nicely.”

Mori’s Ribblesdale conqueror, Coronet, is, the highest rated of the remaining entries at 113, for the £125,000 Betfred Middleton Stakes.

Thursday’s seven-race card is due to get underway at 2.20pm.

The Dante Festival runs from Wednesday, May 16 to Friday 18 May 18.

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