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Dante Festival Begins at York Race Course


9:26am 15th May 2013

York Racecourse's James Brennan tells Minster FM the highlights of this year's Dante Festival.

Nagle Seeks York Sprint Prize With Maarek

TOP sprinter Maarek is among 18 horses declared for today’s feature at York, the Group 2 Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes.

Trained in Ireland by David Nagle, the son of Pivotal ranks not only as one of the best sprinters in Europe, but also one of the most consistent, only once finishing out of the first four since August 2011.

Last season the six-year-old won four times culminating in an impressive triumph in the QIPCO Champions Sprint at on British Champions Day.

He started 2013 where he left off, winning on his reappearance at Naas in April. The form of that race was boosted when the runner-up that day, Scream Blue Murder, won a Listed race at Nottingham on Saturday.

Maarek had been penciled in to tackle the Prix de Saint-Georges at Longchamp on Sunday but having travelled to France, Nagle decided to wait for the £100,000 contest at York, in search of more suitable ground.

He said: “We were set to run in France but the ground was very fast. As long as there’s no sting in it he’ll run at York.”

“He won his first race of the season very easily and has been in great form since. I would be hopeful of another good effort from him.”

Maarek’s rivals include Group 1 winners Gordon Lord Byron and Society Rock and improving fillies Mince and Tickled Pink.

Seven time Champion trainer at York, Richard Fahey, is hoping to start the new campaign with a flourish courtesy of Romantic Settings, a filly who can continue improving and so make her presence felt in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes.

A choice field of six fillies have been declared for the Group 3 staged over an extended 10 furlongs with Fahey's charge sent in search of a three-timer.

The chestnut daughter of Mount Nelson won her maiden last September at Haydock Park and made a successful return to action at Musselburgh earlier this month, beating subsequent winner King Of The Danes.

But Fahey, who trains at Musley Bank not far from the track, is very aware that Romantic Settings - now rated 85 - has to have progressed again to get competitive in her latest assignment.

He said: "It will be interesting but she has got to step right up on what she has done.

"Before she won the other day, she wasn't working that well, so it's hard to get a line on her. But the second came out and won (at Ascot). The owner is keen to run, so we will see what happens."

Trainer Sir Michael Stoute has won the race on no fewer than seven occasions and will be represented on Wednesday by Liber Nauticus, victorious on her only start to date.

Fellow Newmarket-based trainer John Gosden has won the last two renewals of this recognised Investec Oaks trial and he'll be hoping Woodland Aria - a debut scorer at Wolverhampton last month - can follow in the hoofprints of Joviality and The Fugue.

The field of six is chasing the increased prize money pot of £75,000 is completed by Discernable, Hollowina and Indigo Lady.

Wednesday's seven-race card gets underway at 1.45pm.


Cecil Sprint Star On Course For York's Opening Day Feature

THE Sir Henry Cecil-trained Tickled Pink is on target for a tilt at the Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes, the sprint feature on the opening day of York’s Dante Festival, next Wednesday, 15 May.

Cecil’s charge was given a supplementary entry at the six-day stage for the £100,000 Group 2 event and comes into the race in top form having won on her seasonal bow in the Group 3 Abernant Stakes at Newmarket’s Craven Meeting.

Tickled Pink made every yard of the running that day to beat a field of seasoned sprinters by two lengths under stable-jockey Tom Queally. That effort was even more impressive considering it was only her fifth ever racecourse appearance and her first in Group race company.

Prior to her Newmarket victory, the daughter of Invincible Spirit had just a Yarmouth maiden to her name and was only seen twice on a racecourse in 2012.

Her official rating has been raised to 109, making her one of the most exciting young sprinters in Britain.

Cecil said of his improving four-year-old: “Tickled Pink seems in very good form and has done well physically since her win in the Abernant Stakes.

“She has strengthened up and all being well the plan is to head to York and I expect her to run very well.

“These sprint races are always tough but this filly has a touch of class, she stays six furlongs very well and has a good turn of foot. I wouldn’t want to swap her for anything else in the race.”

Other high-profile contenders to stand their ground include Group 1 winners Society Rock and Gordon Lord Byron, the last named is already a York winner, an accolade also held by fellow contender, Mince , a winner of her last five starts.

This year’s Cammidge Trophy hero Jack Dexter, multiple Listed-scorer for Yorkshire owner Reg Bond, Ladies Are Forever, and Maarek are other entries of note. The latter, trained in Ireland by David Nagle, was an impressive winner of the QIPCO Champions Sprint at Ascot last October.


Cox Targets Duke Of York With Lethal Force

Trainer Clive Cox has named the Duke of York Stakes on day one of the Dante Festival (Wednesday, May 15) as the seasonal starting point for his exciting four-year-old Lethal Force.

The son of Dark Angel is one of the stars of Cox’s Lambourn-based stable and he will bid to become the first of his age group to win this £100,000 Group 2 contest since Kevin Ryan trained Amadeus Wolf to victory back in 2007.

Lethal Force has already won at this level, having landed the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury last summer. He was also third in Doncaster’s Park Stakes and fourth in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Those efforts were all over seven-furlongs but Cox is not worried about the drop down a furlong in trip.

He said: “The plan is very much the Duke of York Stakes for Lethal Force. He is a speedy horse and I don’t think the drop back to six (furlongs) will inconvenience him.

“He has done very well over the winter and really strengthened up. His progress this spring has been good and I hope he’ll have a good year.

“The one thing he doesn’t want is very soft ground so we will be hoping for good or fast ground at York.”

Fellow emerging speedsters Mince and Yorkshire-trained Pearl Secret are among a 39-strong entry for Dante Festival’s showcase sprint.

More experienced campaigners in the race include two-time Group 1 winner Society Rock and Hawkeyethenoo.

York’s three-day Dante Festival runs from Wednesday, May 15 through to Friday, May 17.


Society Rock Has Duke Of York Target

TRAINER James Fanshawe is planning to give star sprinter Society Rock his first run of the season in the Duke of York Stakes today (Wednesday 15 May) – the opening day at York’s curtain-raising Dante Festival.

The dual Group 1 winner is among a 39-strong entry for the six-furlong Group 2, worth £100,000, which also includes emerging sprint ace Gordon Lord Byron and the highly promising Jack Dexter, winner of last Saturday’s Listed Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster.

Fanshawe’s charge, now six, confirmed himself as a top-class speed horse last season when adding the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock to a CV that already had a Golden Jubilee Stakes success on it.

Society Rock also finished a close-up third in the Duke of York Stakes last year behind Tiddliwinks.

Fanshawe said: “We are aiming Society Rock at the Duke of York Stakes. It is the logical race for him as it is the first place where he wouldn’t have to carry a huge penalty for his Group 1 win last autumn.

“I am very happy with him; he looks really well and seems in very good form. He has wintered well.

“He ran very well in the Duke of York last year, so we know he goes well on the track.”

Society Rock is likely to once again face a strong Yorkshire challenge in the contest with last year’s winning trainer Kevin Ryan represented at the initial entry stage by four (Bapak Chinta, Bogart, Tiddliwinks and York Glory).

Fellow local trainers David Barron and Mick Easterby have respective entries very much to be respected in Pearl Secret and Hoof It, while handler Geoffrey Oldroyd could saddle Ladies Are Forever. The daughter of Monsieur Bond has been in terrific form this spring, winning two Listed races at Lingfield.

William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course at York, said: "We are delighted by the support of owners for our four Group 2 races at the Dante Festival which with an overall entries of 188 includes some of the best and most exciting horses in Europe and represents a record overall number of entries for our early closing races for Dante. 

"With eye-catching entries from Ireland, France, Britain and, of course, Yorkshire, it looks set to provide some fabulous racing action for our traditional curtain-raiser which is all about quality racing and burgeoning talent for the summer ahead.  Prize money for the Dante Festival is set to increase by £66,000 to a record £947,000 and we very much look forward to getting the new season underway on Wednesday 15 May."


Bolger Tests Leather Quality in Betfred Dante Stakes

Trading Leather will bid to strengthen trainer Jim Bolger's hand for the Investec Derby when he contests the Betfred Dante Stakes at York on Thursday.

Bolger already has the market leader for British Flat racing's showpiece in the shape of unbeaten colt Dawn Approach.

His powerful stable also contains the Group 1-winning Loch Garman, who was second to Battle of Marengo in last Sunday's Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown.

But Bolger is not looking beyond the Group 2 feature on the Knavesmire at present for Trading Leather.

The Teofilo colt, out of a Sinndar mare, was a high-class two-year-old winning the Group 3 Autumn Stakes at Newmarket.

He was unable to reproduce a similar level of form on soft ground at Doncaster in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy, landed by Kingsbarns. And Bolger is keeping his fingers crossed that the rain stays away from York where the going description was given as 'Good to Firm' on Tuesday morning.

He said: “Everything has gone well with Trading Leather – I'm very happy with him. He needs good ground, that's all. Hopefully, there won't be any significant rain.

“I think the step up in trip will suit him. He got the mile well last year and I think he will get a mile and a quarter."

Trading Leather will face eight rivals in the £150,000 Group 2, including the unbeaten Windhoek and the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Secret Number, who was last seen finishing third in the UAE Derby at Meydan.

The other feature on the card is the Group 2 Betfred Middleton Stakes, won last year by subsequent Group 1 winner Izzi Top.

A field of eight will face the starter including Starscope, who represents last year’s winning combination of trainer John Gosden and jockey William Buick.

The Saeed Manana-owned Semayyel is among the entry and connections are hoping for a good run from this four-year-old.

Trained by Clive Brittain, Semayyel won a Listed race at Yarmouth last September before finishing a creditable fifth in the QIPCO Champion Fillies and Mares Stakes at Ascot. She has to put a poor reappearance at Newmarket behind her but if she puts her best foot forward the daughter of Green Desert would have a chance.

Bruce Raymond, Manana’s racing manager, said: “She won a Listed race well and some of her form is good.

“We couldn’t account for her poor run at Newmarket in the Dahlia Stakes but we know she is better than that and we are hoping for an improved effort from her.”

The seven-race card gets underway at 1.45.

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