13:30 - Newmarket stables have dominated the opening handicap that starts proceedings in recent years, winning the last five renewals, and trainers from Flat racing's HQ are well represented once more. The most unexposed horse in the field is John Gosden's Gatewood who has just a Salisbury maiden win to his credit from three starts. The four-year-old is from a family that gets better with age and it would be a surprise were he not capable of improving on what he has shown so far. Another relatively lightly-raced Newmarket contender to include is Labarinto trained by Sir Michael Stoute. The Khalid Abdulla-owned colt won a similarly competitive handicap at Glorious Goodwood last summer and is expected to leave his reappearance run in very soft ground behind upped to a more suitable distance. It makes sense to have some insurance should either one of these fail to live up to expectations, and a more battle-hardened performer that needs considering is Space War who should be spot on after a recent run at Thirsk.
14:00 - If Newmarket trainers have dominated the opening contest, the sprint handicap has been something of a Northern benefit of late. Last year's winner Hoof It went on to be placed in the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock, and if there is a similar type in the field this time around it is undoubtedly York Glory. A winner at the Ebor meeting last year he appeals as being the best long-term prospect and should go close. Barnet Fair was another who progressed well as a three-year-old and with the potential of more to come he also makes the shortlist. Similar to the first leg, it could pay to have a more-exposed type on our side and Baby Strange, who ran well from a poor draw at Doncaster last time fits the bill.
14:30 - Six fillies put their potential classic aspirations of the line in the Musidora Stakes, but in truth this looks a match between The Fugue and Aidan O'Brien's Twirl. The Fugue put up a huge effort for a horse on just her second start when fourth in the 1000 Guineas, and looks sure to benefit from the step up in trip. However, that was only 10 days ago and having been struck into during the race it remains to be seen if she has fully recovered from those exertions. A full-sister to her yard's multiple Group 1 winner Misty For Me, Twirl shaped with abundant promise on her seasonal reappearance back in March, and with today's conditions looking ideal she is preferred.
15:00 - Hoof It looks the one to beat in the Duke of York Stakes having made great strides last season after taking the sprint handicap on this card 12 months ago. He looks sure to play his part in some of the top races later in the year, but may find the race-fit Mayson a tough nut to crack this afternoon. Richard Fahey's improving colt has won his last two starts in impressive fashion and should be incredibly hard to keep out of the frame.
15:35 - A competitive staying handicap follows just over half an hour later where Aldwick Bay lines up under a penalty for his smooth win at Windsor last week. That was a career-best effort on his first run since being gelded and he looks set to go well in a bid to follow-up. Another hoping a gelding operation can have a similar effect is Marcus Tregoning who saddles Mulaqen. This son of Haafhd has only made the track five times in three seasons of racing, but it appears significant that connections have chosen to persevere. Similarly unexposed is The Fun Crusher who caught the eye on just his second career start at Doncaster at the end of March and will appreciate the step back up in trip.
16:10 - The final leg is a minor event for two-year-olds and the one to be with could be Tatlisu. Richard Fahey's youngster did well to overcome trouble in running to make a winning debut at Musselburgh earlier this month and is capable of leaving that form well behind.
13:30 - 4,12,13
14:00 - 4,14,19
14:30 - 6
15:00 - 4,6
15:35 - 4,5,18
16:10 - 4
= 54 lines
There were 8 top-rated winners at the Dante Festival last year. Download York Race Cards HERE.