TRAINER Joseph O’Brien is hoping Rekindling can boost his Investec Derby credentials with a big performance in the Betfred Dante Stakes at York on Thursday 18 May.
The High Chaparral colt is among 21 horses in the renowned Group 2 ‘trial’ race at the latest entry stage. Permian, winner of the Listed Newmarket Stakes last Saturday, and Century Dream have been supplemented at a cost of £12,000 each.
Rekindling made a fine start to his season when winning the Group 3 Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown last month.
That was his first outing for O’Brien’s string, having been trained in 2016 by David Wachman, who retired at the end of that season.
The Ballysax Stakes success was Rekindling’s second from four career starts and he is now a 14/1 chance with Betfred for the famous Classic at Epsom, staged on 3 June.
O’Brien said: “We were delighted with his reappearance – his first run for us. He’s a quite laid-back horse so it’s very hard to know how good he is.
“He never is a horse that sparkles at home, so you have to kind of take things for granted and look forward to him on the racecourse.
“We were hopeful he’d run well but we were over the moon, obviously, when he won.
“We’ve been very happy with him since. He seems in good form and the plan is to go onto the Dante. It will be a very competitive race, I’m sure. We’re looking forward to it.
“He won one of the Derby trials in Ireland. At the minute, he has all the credentials to be an Epsom Derby candidate. I suppose he has to go to York and show us that he is.”
O’Brien, 23, is in his second season as a trainer, having enjoyed many high-profile wins as a jockey – including on Camelot and Australia in the Derby. Now he is dreaming of taking Rekindling to the Classic.
He added: “It’s unbelievable to have a horse to think about even going to a Derby.”
So far O’Brien has been the only person in the Derby trials to head the Ballydoyle battalions of his father, Aidan.
The trio of Ballydoyle horses that followed home Rekindling in the Ballysax Stakes filled the first three spots in last Sunday’s Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown. This week at Chester, Venice Beach led home another 1-2-3 for Aidan O’Brien in the Vase, while Cliffs Of Moher won the Dee Stakes.
O’Brien snr has seven of the 21 entries in next Thursday’s race on the Knavesmire, which has seen an already record prize fund further boosted by the supplementary entries, to reach £185,700. Trainer John Gosden has won the last two runnings of the Dante and could be represented by leading Derby contender Cracksman as well as Monarchs Glen in the famous Juddmonte silks.
On the same card, 10 fillies and mares have been left in the Group 2 Betfred Middleton Stakes. Breeders’ Cup heroine Queen’s Trust and last year’s Tattersalls Musidora winner, So Mi Dar, are among those on course to chase the record £125,000 pot.
The Dante Festival runs from Wednesday 17 May to Friday 19 May inclusively.For tickets please call 01904 620911 x 225 or visit www.yorkracecourse.co.uk<http://www.yorkracecourse.co.uk/>