We had originally thought that the first classic of the season in Britain, the 2000 Guineas, was going to prove to be the race of the early part of the season but rather unusually it seems that the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York may well have that honour.
Thought of chiefly as a trial for the Derby at Epsom, the Dante is often competitive but some years can break up rather when it appears there is a horse of particularly good ability about to line-up though this year it is shaping up somewhat differently.
Already pencilled in for the 1m2½f contest at the Knavesmire on the 16th of May were the likes of Al Hilalee, a very well thought of Godolphin horse, National Stakes runner-up and Dewhurst third Anthony Van Dyck and Feilden Stakes winner Kick On but the race just keeps getting deeper.
Charlie Appleby has said in recent days that his impressive Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner from Churchill Downs, Line Of Duty, will bypass the 2000 Guineas and come to this race instead with a view to getting him to Epsom for the Derby and he could be joined by other star names.
Despite the Guineas now looking quite open, Appleby has said publicly that he needs to do what’s best for his son of Galileo who is sure to love going up in trip and he will be a leading fancy for both this and the big one on June 1st.
Joining him could be impressive Flying Scotsman Stakes winner and regally bred Sangarius of Sir Michael Stoute’s yard. Despite being well beaten on his final start behind Too Darn Hot, things didn’t really suit him that day and it’s fair to say he may appreciate this extra distance.
He’s long been held in high regard and could yet make his mark in what is admittedly a very hot year for three-year-old colts. He is by the same sire as Caylx but is a much more scopey type who is believed will do well over middle-distances this summer, potentially coming here before taking in something like the Eclipse Stakes in July.
Last but not least of course is the highest rated of the lot, Too Darn Hot. Having been forced to miss his intended date with destiny in the 2000 Guineas, John Gosden’s star colt will now contest either this or the Irish 2000 Guineas and it’ll be quite something if he comes to York to go up in distance on his first start of the season.
Although still just about favourite for the Derby, the son of Dubawi is far from certain to appreciate a mile-and-a-half but could be just right for this distance and his presence in the race would give it even more star quality than it already has. It is shaping up to be the race of the spring.