TRAINER John Gosden is set to send four of his emerging talents to York for key races during its season-opening Dante Festival, which starts this Wednesday.
Cracksman (6/1 with Betfred for the Derby) will on Thursday bid to become Gosden’s third straight winner of the Group 2 Betfred Dante Stakes, after the triumphs of Golden Horn (2015) and Wings Of Desire (2016). He is unbeaten in his two races to date, including victory in the ‘Classic Trial’ at Epsom last month.
Shutter Speed has also won both of her starts and will seek a career hat-trick when she contests the Group 3 Tattersalls Musidora Stakes on Wednesday. She delivered a smart display in landing a conditions race at Newbury last month.
A year ago Gosden won the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes with So Mi Dar, who returns to York for the Group 2 Betfred Middleton Stakes on Thursday. It will be the lightly-raced four-year-old filly’s first racecourse assignment since finishing third in the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera at Chantilly last October.
Friday’s Betway Yorkshire Cup will see Gosden’s strong team represented by progressive stayer, Muntahaa. After finishing third in a Doncaster conditions race, he showcased an upwardly mobile profile with victory in the Group 3 registered as the John Porter Stakes at Newbury in April.
Newmarket-based Gosden said: “Shutter Speed won nicely at Newbury and we rather feel, at this stage, around a mile and a quarter is her trip. When she ran at Newbury, the plan was the Musidora. We said that straight away and we’re staying with the plan. She is a nice type of filly – she could do no more than what she has done so far.
“So Mi Dar has obviously been off a very long time, waiting for the Middleton because there’s nowhere else to go. She’s liable to be a little fresh and will come on a great deal for her first run.
“Cracksman has only had two runs in his life. The Dante is closer to the Derby than usual due to a late Easter. We’ve lost a week, which is not helpful. On the other hand he needs the experience to race if we are even to consider Epsom.
“It’s the smartest trial but I still see it as a trial. He came out of his last race and he learnt a lot; he has been in good order since and ate well (The record books show that a 16-day gap between the Dante and Derby need not be a barrier to success as demonstrated by the fact that Authorized won both races with a similar timeframe in 2007).
“Muntahaa ran nicely in the John Porter. Obviously, it’s logical to come to the Yorkshire Cup – a Group 2 after a Group 3 win. It didn’t work out for him in his first race of the year – that went a little bit wrong. But he ran a nice race the other day and he’s on good terms with himself.”
York’s season-opening Dante Festival runs from this Wednesday 17 to Friday 19 May inclusively.