York’s Dante Festival 2022: Day One Tips

York's Dante Festival 2022: Day One Tips

Betfred columnist Owen McMahon shares a couple of tips for the opening day of the 2022 Dante Festival at York

What a day we have in store on the Knavesmire, with a handful of super-competitive handicaps either side of back-to-back Group contests – including the G3 Musidora Stakes, a big trial for the Epsom Oaks in June, at 3.35. I won’t be ‘officially’ tipping anything in that race, but I fully expect the short-priced favourite Emily Upjohn to oblige. In fact, dare I say I’d be shocked if she doesn’t.

I thought John & Thady Gosden’s daughter of Sea The Stars was incredibly impressive in a decent-looking novice event at Sandown last month, winning by a supremely comfortably nine-and-a-half lengths, carrying a 7lb penalty. She’s already our 7/2 favourite for the Oaks, and may well be significantly shorter by the end of the day…

Anyway, onto the first leg of our double header this afternoon, and I’m looking at the other Group race on the card – the Duke Of York Clipper Stakes at 3.00. Ten go to post in this competitive 6f sprint, with Owen Burrows’ MINZAAL and Roger Varian’s Dragon Symbol fighting it out at the head of the market.

I do think the pair have the race between them, with my preference for the former at 5/2f at time of writing.

Minzaal is a very lightly-raced four-year-old, having only ran six times in his career – on four occasions as a two-year-old and just twice last season. As a juvenile he landed the G2 Gimcrack Stakes over today’s course and distance, before finishing third in the G1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.

The son of Mehmas was late to the party in his three-year-old campaign, competing in just a couple of events at Ascot in October – a warm-up in a Listed contest over 5f before a very respectable third in the Champion Sprint Stakes, showing that he’d retained all his ability despite a lengthy lay-off.

Dragon Symbol was all the way back in 14th that day, but I would draw a line completely through that as it was likely a result of a grueling campaign for Archie Watson. He’s now with Roger Varian, which is very interesting indeed and makes him especially hard to predict. He’s the big danger, for sure.

However, I think Minzaal has plenty of improvement in him, and the vibes coming out of Burrows’ camp are very positive indeed: “He has been with me all winter, ticking over. Physically he has really strengthened up this year and I’ve had a good preparation with him.”

He’ll likely be held up by jockey Jim Crowley, and providing Owen Burrows hasn’t left too much to work on I’m expecting him to come with a strong challenge and finish better than the rest. That’s the theory anyway…

York Dante Festival Odds

Next up, I’m jumping to the very last race of the card – a 5f sprint for two-year-old novices – at 5.15.

This is, in my humble opinion, a modest contest, with the form on offer from Honour Your Dreams, Thunder Moor, King’s Crown and Mersea doing little for me. Therefore, I’m taking a chance on one of the newbies – and that’s STARMAS for Richard Hannon and Sean Levey.

She’s one of a handful of fillies in the line-up, getting 5lbs from the colts, and interestingly has a whole host of fancy entries that would indicate her work at home has been pleasing her expert handler.

While she might want a furlong more in time, Starmas is bred to be quick, and it might just be the case that Richard Hannon has found a very winnable starting point for her.

She’s 7/2 with us at present, and I would suggest a market check throughout the day as any substantial support would only enhance the aforementioned.

Today’s Horse Racing Odds

Author: Lucille White