2024 Dante Meeting: Day 1 picks

2024 Dante Meeting: Day 1 picks

With the Chester Boodles Festival having come and gone, attention has now started to turn towards the second festival of the flat racing summer, the York Dante meeting.

Taking place between the 15th - 17th May, there are an abundance of Group races up for grabs and the next three days will provide many clues as to who could be a force at the upcoming Classics and big races later this summer.

Day 1 will be headlined by the Group 2 Clipper Stakes but there are six other races to enjoy, read on to discover our picks for every race. 

Race 1: Sky Bet Race to the Ebor Jorvik Handicap (1 mile and 4 furlongs)

Fourteen horses will head down to post for the first race of the day and this contest looks wide open. 

Marhaba The Champ has enjoyed a great record at York over the last few seasons, tasting success in both of his last two visits to the track. Both of those wins have come when the ground has been good and with the recent rain that has fallen, today’s conditions may not suit.

If the rain continues to fall then it could be worth siding with Flash Bardot. Able to open up his account for the season with a good win at Doncaster a few weeks ago, he loves testing ground and if this turns into a slog he has to be one for the shortlist. 

 Sky Bet Race to the Ebor Jorvik Handicap

Race 2: Churchill Tyres Handicap (Six furlongs)

The second race of this year’s Dante meeting is arguably one of the toughest to predict. With 21 runners having been declared, there are a host of horses in with a chance of victory.

Wobwobwob heads into this race having won two weeks ago at Thirsk. A winner of last year’s Ayr Silver Cup he has won previously in big fields and should like the ground. There is plenty to like and he should run a big race.

Magical Spirit finished third in this race last season and is another who likes it when the ground is soft. No stranger to races with many runners, he will be hoping to build on his success at Doncaster a few weeks ago. 

At a price it could be worth taking a second look at Woven. Oisin Murphy will be on board and he has a knack for winning races like this. Although he has form to prove, he should be another who likes the ground and if he can reproduce the effort that saw him finish third at Doncaster a few weeks ago he could be in with a major shout. 

Race 3: Duke of York Clipper Stakes (6 furlongs)

The most prestigious prize of York’s opening day comes in the Duke of York Clipper Stakes.  A Group 2 contest, fifteen runners will line up for their shot at glory.

Azure Blue looked like a horse heading places last season when victorious in this contest twelve months ago. However, since that victory he has only been seen once, finishing well down the field in the 2023 July Cup. He arrives with fitness to prove and although he has already proven he can win this race, a leap of faith will be required for those that want to back him.

Montassib heads into the race in great form. A winner at the track last year, he has already bagged listed honours this year. A lover of soft ground, everything looks perfectly set for another big run and he looks a major contender. 

Mill Stream has mixed it in some great company and was thought highly enough to run in Group 1 races. Although he wasn’t able to leave an impression, he is a former Group 3 winner and a race of this nature certainly isn’t out of his reach.

Few horses arrive at this race in better form than Washington Heights. A surprise winner of the Abernant Stakes a few weeks ago, he beat several reopposing rivals in that contest and he looks primed to run another big race today. 

Race 4: Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (1 mile and 2 furlongs)

Often a great indicator ahead of several big races later in the year, this year’s Musidora Stakes features several fascinating runners.

Starting as many punters banker of the day, the John Gosden trained Friendly Soul will start as the one they will need to beat. 

The Gosden stable has dominated this race in recent seasons and with Friendly Soul they have another horse who looks capable of producing something special. 

Unbeaten in her two career starts, her Listed victory at Doncaster a few weeks ago was done in impressive fashion and her connections will hope she can back that performance up here.

Classical Song can’t boast the same record as the favourite but has been previously pitched into Group 1 races and is clearly highly regarded. Unlike others, this will be her first race of the season and she may need to shake the rust off. The step up to a mile and two furlongs should suit and a big run can be expected. 

Any Aiden O’Brien horse has to be respected and Mayfair will start the race at a decent price. Yet to break her maiden, she has plenty to prove, but her Irish form stacks up well and if looking to back one at a price she could be worth considering. 

Tattersalls Musidora Stakes

Race 5: Conundrum HR Consulting Handicap (7 furlongs)

After the group action we return to handicaps and fifteen runners will try to land the fifth race of the day.

As long as the ground doesn’t get too soft then one horse that could take all of the beating is Elmonjed. Unbeaten, this will be his first crack at seven furlongs but he is bred to stay this far. Potentially progressive, he looks to be the class angle of the contest.

Fire Demon has enjoyed a great start to the 2024 Flat Season winning two races on the All-Weather. Whilst he has flat form to prove, the projected soft ground should significantly boost his chances and he could cause the favourite problems. 

Richard Fahy has a formidable record at York and his horse, Quiet Resolve, could be worth chancing. 

Yet to race on turf, he has won over the distance on the All-Weather and his third place finish last time out has seen the winner go onto win a Group 3 in Germany. With that form boosted, he could be worth a small play at big odds.

Race 6: British Stallions Stud Ebf Novice Stakes (5 furlongs)

The shortest race of the day comes in the penultimate contest, the British Stallions Stud Ebf Novice Stakes.

Eleven horses will head down to post, with the impressively bred Against The Wind due to start as the favourite. 

Related to two winners at six furlongs, he should have the speed and stamina to leave a real mark on his debut. 

In a race where few have had experience, Francisco’s Piece is one that will attract real interest. A winner on debut at Pontefract, his experience could be vital and he has to be considered even with his weight penalty. 

King of Light was able to finish third on his debut but did a lot of his best work when running for the line late on. With improvement likely, he has to be another for the shortlist.

Race 7: Stuey Weston & Friends Getting Out Handicap (1 mile and 3 furlongs)

Another competitive handicap will round out the card and it will see twenty horses head down to post.

Followers of Wahraan would have been frustrated at his last start in Windsor. Sent off as a heavy favourite, he swerved out of the stalls and lost a tonne of ground before clawing his way back into the race to be narrowly denied. 

Had he got away to a better start, he would have surely won and if he can get away on even terms he could be the one to side with.

In a race where several horses arrive out of form, one horse to side with could be Asgard’s Captain. Having enjoyed a great season on the All-Weather where he notched three victories, he returned to the turf a few weeks ago and put up a good showing, finishing second to a progressive rival. Stepping up on a trip here, further improvement could be squeezed out today. 

Bring back memories will be having his second start at the track but returns with good memories following his narrow second last July. A horse that relishes softer ground conditions, everything looks in place for him to have another big run and another bold showing can be expected.