York Dante Festival: Day 3 Picks

The third and final day of the York Dante Festival is upon us and the third day features the week’s headline race, the Yorkshire Cup. Worth just over £100,00 to the winner, the Aiden O’Brien trained Tower of London will start as the favourite.

As well as previewing that race, there are six other high class races on Friday’s card and we will provide our thoughts on all of them. 

Let’s get started.

Race 1: Clipper Ebf Marygate Fillies Stakes (5 furlongs)

Friday’s card starts with a sixteen runner Fillies Stakes race where Running Queen is due to start as the favourite.

Having finished fourth on her debut, she showed bundles of improvement when shedding her Maiden tag at Salisbury just a few weeks ago. 

Drawn to the wide outside, she has speed to burn and could be tough to beat.

It Ain’t Two was a good winner on her debut and won despite a poor start and hanging in running. She should be far better equipped for this race and is another major contender.

Ruby’s Profit will be having her first turf start but heads into the race having run a brilliant race on debut on the All-Weather at Kempton. Whether she can translate that form onto the turf remains to be seen, but she could be capable of landing the spoils. 

Race 2: Knights Solicitors Handicap (1 mile and 2 furlongs)

Another deep handicap awaits in the second race of the day, with sixteen runners heading down to post.

Set to lead the field is Botanical. A winner of two of his five career starts, he has been off the track since landing a strong handicap in October.

Yet to run a race in Group company, big things are expected and he will start as the one that they all need to beat. 

If Botanical fails to fire then Reach could be a solid alternative. A winner over course and distance last summer, this will be his first run of the season but if he arrives ready to race, he could be a solid option at a price.

At a big price Andaleep could be worth siding with. Another former winner at the course, he could be capable of another big showing. 

Knights Solicitors Handicap

Race 3: Sky Bet Fillies Stakes (7 furlongs)

Nine talented fillies are set to head to post for the Sky Bet Fillies Stakes and the horse to beat is Devoted Queen. 

Unbeaten in both of her career starts, she is clearly talented and is well bred. Often slow to start her races, she will be wearing a hood today in the hope it will help her settle.

If there are doubts over the favourite, then many will turn to Bolsena. Another well-bred Filly, she finally got off the mark on her fourth attempt when cruising to a three length victory at Haydock just a few weeks ago. 

True Cyan has raced in some strong company and was able to finish fourth in the 2024 Nell Gwyn Stakes. A Group 3 race, her connections would have been disappointed with that effort and they will hope she can bounce back here. 

Race 4: Yorkshire Cup (1 mile and five furlongs)

Just six runners will head down to post for this year’s renewal of the Yorkshire Cup. Worth £102,000 to the winner, remarkably Aiden O’Brien has never trained the winner of this race and will be hoping to seal it for the first time with Tower of London.

Able to finish fourth in the 2023 St Leger, he has raced well in the Middle East over the winter, winning two races. Arriving in good form, he will hope to win his first  race back on British shores. 

After conquering all before him this jumps season, Willie Mullins is back and targeting more success but this time on the flat. 

He sends Vauban into action and this former Group 1 hurdle winner can’t be discounted. Having spent most of last year on the flat, he has won at Group 3 level and is a seasoned flat performer. If Tower of London fails to produce, he could easily pick up the pieces.

Marco Botti won this race last year with Giavellotto and the legendary Italian trainer will be hoping his staying star can repeat the feat this year. A winner multiple times at the track, he has finished behind Tower of London in his last two appearances and will hope to reverse that form today.

Race 5: Darley Ebf Stakes (7 furlongs)

Another small field of six have been declared for the Ebf Stakes and it’s the John Gosden trained Lead Artist who should lead the betting. It’s been a bit of a frustrating few days for the master trainer who has seen several of his stars beaten.

Narrowly beaten on debut by the reopposing First Conquest, he will receive six pounds in weight today and many believe that could be enough to see him cross the line in first.

The winner of the Wood Ditton four weeks ago, First Conquest is the only winner in this field but to overcome his weight penalty for winning will require something special. 

Showing he was more race ready than all of his rivals on debut, he was able to cling onto victory but his rivals could be smarter this time around. If he is to emerge victorious he will need to produce something special.

Under Siege is another who will hope to win for the first time. He finished second on debut but the winner of that race has gone on to win the Dante so that form has certainly been given a boost. A strong traveller, he is another who looks to have the credentials to win here. 

Darley Ebf Stakes

Race 6: Yorkshire Equine Practice Handicap (7 furlongs)

After the Group races the card concludes with two competitive looking handicap races and the penultimate race of the day will see twenty horses enter the starting stalls.

Eldrickjones has been tearing it up on the All-Weather and will hope to bring his strong form from Newcastle onto the turf. Having raced as recently as Sunday, he proved to be a class above his rivals as he cruised to the line by a wide margin. If he can handle the change in conditions he could be one of the best value picks of the day.

Tropez Power has defeated Eldrickjones earlier in the season and has good form at the track, having finished second in a similar looking handicap last summer. He has dropped to a career low mark and could be ready to strike.

Another Investment was third in this race last year and warmed up for this year’s renewal with an encouraging return on the All-Weather a few weeks ago. He is on a long losing run but clearly likes it around York and he looks to have place potential.

Race 7: Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Handicap (5 furlongs)

The three day York Festival will conclude as it began with a competitive handicap. 

Vantheman warmed up for this race in taking style when cruising to a win on the All-Weather, however the handicapper hasn’t been kind and has raised him seven pounds for his win. 

A strong traveller, it remains to be seen if he can overcome this mark.

Jubilee Walk will represent strong connections and heads into the race having won his last two races. Untried over five furlongs he will be trying the distance for the first time and will be hoping his added stamina could prove to be decisive. 

Vince L’amour and Ziggy’s Missile are two others that bring in recent winning form and should thrive in the conditions. Both should be considered for the shortlist.