Lion Sets High Dante Standard

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Roaring Lion | Racing Post

There is a strong feeling that we have already seen this year’s Derby winner with the 2000 Guineas followed by strong showings at Chester, Lingfield and Leopardstown, but York’s G2 Betfred Dante S. does carry the monicker of the race’s best trial and it is not too late for Thursday’s protagonists to enter the fray. Perhaps the most obvious winner is last year’s G2 Royal Lodge S. scorer and G1 Racing Post Trophy runner-up Roaring Lion (Kitten’s Joy), whose performance when just over two-lengths fifth to Saxon Warrior (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) is outstanding form in this context. Fast ground will be no impediment but while few colts have come here so quick after the Guineas, only The Grey Gatsby (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) and Alnasr Alwasheek (GB) (Sadler’s Wells) have managed to rebound from unplaced efforts in the Newmarket Classic and win this since 1992. Jockey Oisin Murphy said of Qatar Racing’s hardy flag-bearer, who is probably G1 Prix du Jockey Club-bound after this, “His run in the Guineas was a huge improvement on his Craven run and Mr Gosden says he’s in good form, so we’re looking forward to him. He’s bred to stay.”

It used to be rare for a Northern-trained horse to win this centrepiece of one of the two festivals held at the “Ascot of the North”, but the momentum has definitely shifted in the last five years. In that time, local stables have accounted for three winners with the aforementioned The Grey Gatsby following Libertarian (GB) (New Approach {Ire}) and the ill-fated Permian (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) succeeding 12 months ago. This time, it is the unbeaten Tim Easterby-trained Wells Farhh Go (Ire) (Farhh {GB}) and Apr. 17 Listed Feilden S. winner Mildenberger (GB) (Teofilo {Ire}) who are the defenders of Northern pride against Aidan O’Brien and Newmarket. The former is a fascinating contender, having won both his starts here with a late rattle over seven furlongs with James Garfield (Ire) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}) on the wrong side of the photo in the G3 Acomb S. in August. “He’s an exciting horse to have and we’ve had a few offers we’ve had to resist,” commented Easterby, whose finest hour on the flat came with the 2002 G1 St Leger hero Bollin Eric (GB) (Shaamit {Ire}). “He is in good form. I’m very happy with how he looks. Basically, it’s his first run of the season and a stepping stone to the future. He wants a mile and a half really.” Looking to the future, his trainer is unconcerned about heading somewhere other than York. “He’s a very adaptable horse–I can’t see any track bothering him,” he added. “He’s a big, rangy horse and he will improve as the season goes along.”

Juddmonte’s Apr. 25 Listed Blue Riband Trial winner Crossed Baton (GB) (Dansili {GB}) forms a two-pronged Gosden charge and he bids to atone for the defeat of relative Twice Over (GB) (Observatory) in the 2008 edition. His owner-breeder’s racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe is keen to see what he is made of. “He made all at Epsom which is never an easy thing to do there, so we thought he deserved a chance in a trial and this is the best one.”

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