Thanks to the performances of Golden Horn (2015) and Authorized (2007) who have both completed the double in the last decade, while Workforce was second here in 2010 before going once place better at Epsom the following month. Like the last-named, this year’s favourite Midterm sports the colours of Prince Khalid Abdullah and the ante-post Derby favourite will be the centre of attention as he bids to maintain his unbeaten start to his career.
Ryan Moore and Sir Michael Stoute teamed up to win the 2011 renewal of the Dante Stakes with Carlton House and the pair combined once more last month when Midterm made a successful reappearance, although his effort in the Group 3 Classic Trial at Sandown didn't please everyone, he should benefit a good deal from the experience and remains a horse with considerable potential. Incidentally, Midterm’s dam, the Oaks runner-up Midday, was herself a dual York winner, including the Middleton Stakes on this card in 2011.
Foundation would have enjoyed an unbeaten two-year-old season were it not for the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster where he finished full of running after meeting trouble in running. However, his seasonal debut behind Stormy Antarctic in the Craven Stakes was laboured. Whilst the trip here shouldn't pose any problems, it bears repeating that he's no banker to stay any further judged on pedigree.
Conversely, Wings of Desire, a stablemate of Foundation, has already shown that stamina is his forte, having shed his maiden tag at Wolverhampton over twelve furlongs last month. This is a quick and exceedingly large jump up in class but he is a brother to the high class Eagle Top, winner of the King Edward VII Stakes and a runner-up in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
Aidan O’Brien won this race in 2006, 2009 and 2010 and his Deauville finished behind Foundation twice last season and he could do better this season now tackling longer distances, while stablemate Black Sea needs to improve on the bare form of his reappearance win at Leopardstown. Of the others, Muntazah, for first-season trainer Owen Burrows, could outrun his likely odds.
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The aforementioned Middleton Stakes provides the appetizer to the Dante and the ten-furlong Group 2 is a traditional seasonal starting point for top fillies. The race was won by Roger Varian’s Ambivalent in 2014, and Varian subsequently provided the runner-up – Talmada – twelve months ago. Having switched from Luca Cumani to Varian, Lady of Dubai will bid to give the Newmarket handler more York glory. She was only able to add one win to her tally last season but she ran with great credit when third in the Oaks at Epsom in June.
John Gosden’s Journey makes her seasonal reappearance here and was a most progressive filly last term. In a season which included three victories, Journey improved further still when a three-quarter-length second to Simple Verse in the Group 1 Fillies’ And Mares’ at Ascot on her final start, and she looks the type to improve once again as a four-year-old.
Beautiful Romance was one place further behind Journey at Ascot that day – a step back in the right direction for Saeed bin Suroor’s filly, having disappointed in the Prix Vermaille at Longchamp on her preceding start a month earlier. Speedy Boarding signed off last season with a below-par ninth of 12 behind Journey and Beautiful Romance at Ascot but had progressed with each start prior to that effort. James Fanshawe’s tall filly still has plenty of scope for improvement this term and cannot be discounted, with the drop in trip seemingly in her favour.
Luca Cumani will be represented by Koora who won two of her four starts under Jamie Spencer last season - her first year on the track. Sir Michael Stoute won this race with Crystal Capella in 2009 and her half-sister Crystal Zvezda will bid to keep the family tradition alive, however she was far too keen on her reappearance in the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket and needs to leave that run well behind.
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Day two’s card gets underway with a terrifically competitive five furlong sprint, and also includes the Hambleton Stakes, a listed handicap won last year by Alfred Hutchinson who will bid to repeat the achievement of Navajo Chief who won the race in 2013 and 2014.
G2 - The Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle Race (class 1)
G2 - The Stanjames.com Champion Hurdle Trial (class 1)
G2 - The Peter Marsh Steeple Chase (a Limited Handicap)
G2 - The Altcar Novices' Steeple Chase (class 1)
G2 - The Olbg.com Mares' Hurdle Race (class 1)