York’s Dante Stakes the highlight of another week of Investec Derby Festival pointers – Aljezeera goes for Newbury Investec Oaks trial on Saturday

There is now just over a fortnight to go until the Investec Derby Festival gets underway and the trials season moves onwards to York this week, with the three-day Dante Festival taking place from tomorrow, Wednesday, May 17 through to Friday, May 19.
A field of 11 is due to line up in Thursday’s G2 Betfred Dante Stakes over an extended 10 furlongs at York, which has been won since the turn of the century by subsequent Investec Derby scorers North Light (2004), Motivator (2005), Authorized (2007) and Golden Horn (2015).
Seven of the Dante Stakes field currently hold entries for the £1.5 million Investec Derby at Epsom Downs on Saturday, June 3, headed by Cracksman (John Gosden/Frankie Dettori). The son of Frankel got his season off the perfect start when landing the Investec Derby Trial at Epsom Downs on April 26. He carries the colours of Anthony Oppenheimer, successful with Golden Horn two years ago.
Other Investec Derby entries engaged on Thursday include Crystal Ocean (Sir Michael Stoute/Andrea Atzeni). A Sea The Stars half-brother to the G1 winner Hillstar, the Sir Evelyn de Rothschild-owned colt was an impressive winner of a maiden at Nottingham last month and has been well-supported in the ante-post market in recent days.
The four Godolphin-owned runners include the Investec Derby entries Benbatl (Saeed bin Suroor/Pat Cosgrove), third in the G3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket on his seasonal debut, and Syphax (Kevin Ryan/Jamie Spencer), winner of the G3 Acomb Stakes last season.
The two other starters for the Maktoum family’s operation are the unexposed Swiss Storm (David Elsworth/Jim Crowley) and Saint-Cloud Listed scorer Wolf Country(Charlie Appleby/William Buick), who are currently not engaged in the Epsom Downs Classic.
Aidan O’Brien won both Investec Derby trials at Chester last week, with Venice Beach taking the Chester Vase and Cliffs Of Moher successful in the Dee Stakes. The Ballydoyle runner at York is Investec Derby entry Exemplar (Ryan Moore), who was G2-placed in 2016.
O’Brien’s son Joseph is also represented at York with Rekindling (Donnacha O’Brien), a son of High Chaparral who saw off subsequent Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial victor Douglas Macarthur when taking the G3 Ballysax Stakes at the Leopardstown on April 8. Rekindling is also entered at Epsom Downs.
The final runner on Thursday to also hold an Investec Derby entry is Contrapposto(David Menuisier/Jimmy Fortune). The Cacique colt was fourth in last month’s G3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket.
Dante Stakes – prices from Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival: 5/2 Cracksman; 100/30 Crystal Ocean; 6/1 Rekindling; 8/1 Benbatl; 14/1 Permian, Swiss Storm, Wolf Country; 18/1 Forest Ranger; 20/1 Syphax; 50/1 Contrapposto
Unibet Special: Cracksman to win both the Dante Stakes and Investec Derby – 16/1.
Pointers for the Investec Oaks could also come at York in tomorrow’s G3 Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (4.05pm). The five runners for the extended 10-furlong event are topped by Shutter Speed (John Gosden/Frankie Dettori), who is unbeaten in two starts and currently the 6/1 third favourite with Unibet for the Investec Oaks, which takes place at Epsom Downs on Ladies Day, Friday, June 2.
Some late clues for the Investec Derby Festival could come at the weekend, with trials being run at Newmarket and Newbury.
Newmarket’s Listed Betway Fairway Stakes on Saturday, May 20 takes place over 10 furlongs and could see Call To Mind (William Haggas), owned by The Queen and successful on his debut at Newbury on April 22, earn his place in the Investec Derby line-up.
Other possible starters at Newmarket who also hold Investec Derby entries are the Godolphin duo of D’Bai (Charlie Appleby) and Leshlaa (Saeed bin Suroor), plus local Epsom hope Corredordel Viento (Simon Dow).
Further Investec Oaks pointers could be provided in the Listed Haras De Bouqeutot Trial Stakes at Newbury on Saturday. Seven of the 13 entries for the 10-furlong event are also currently engaged in fillies Classic at Epsom Downs including QIPCO 1000 Guineas fourth Talaayeb (Owen Burrows), Gracious Diana (John Gosden), who scored impressively at Newbury last month, and recent Ascot winner Prosper (Roger Varian).
Aljezeera (Luca Cumani) was the impressive winner of her only start to date over a mile at Doncaster in August, 2016. The daughter of Frankel is out of dual US G1 scorer Dynaforce and cost 450,000 guineas as a yearling when purchased at Tattersalls in 2015.
Harry Herbert, racing manager for owner Al Shaqab Racing, said today: “Aljezeera will run at Newbury on Saturday.
“She has been a little bit slow to come to hand this year as she is a big, scopey filly. Her performance on Saturday should tell us if we are up to Oaks class.
“I think the jury is slightly out at the moment as the race she won last season didn’t turn out to be particularly good but she couldn’t have done more than win on debut as a big, backward filly.
“Luca thinks she might just need the run on Saturday to wake herself up and gain some experience as she can be a bit in and out in her work.
“We have got to know where we stand. Luca is keen to get her rolling and, as it is Al Shaqab Lockinge Day at Newbury on Saturday, it is a race we wanted to wait for.”
There is a scratchings stage for the G1 Investec Coronation Cup and £100,000 Investec Dash Handicap today, details of which will be revealed tomorrow, Wednesday, May 17.
The latest scratchings stage for the Investec Oaks is on Thursday, May 18, with the details unveiled on Friday, May 19.
The next scratchings stage for the Investec Derby is on Tuesday, May 23, with the latest acceptors revealed on the same day.
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