Dance primed for Epsom repeat
David John has four additions for Flat Notebook 2013 in his latest update.
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York's Dante Festival has provided a quartet of entries for the Notebook this week and hopefully three of them will be able to provide some quick returns and could potentially have Epsom on the agenda in a little over a week.
First up is the William Haggas-trained Haikbidiac, who finished a creditable third in the novice stakes over five furlongs.
The Kodiac colt left his rivals for dead on his debut at Doncaster and showed that he was going in the right direction in better company on the Knavesmire.
My first notes on the race said something to the effect of beaten off inside the distance but he was actually finishing as strongly as anything in the closing stages.
A step up to a sixth furlong could be ideal as the next plan of action and the Woodcote Stakes on Derby day would be a really appealing option for him.
The Investec Dash takes place on the same card and a possible interesting candidate is David Elsworth's filly Cheworee.
I have to admit to not being a massive fan of sprint handicaps and the 20-odd of them blasting down the straight at Epsom is probably the biggest crapshoot of the season.
That said, she deserves extra credit for last week's effort after completely fluffing the start but still having the wherewithal to make some sort of show behind Ancient Cross - and on the opposite side of the track to where all the main action took place.
Her previous narrow success at Windsor suggested she could be in for a good campaign and I am prepared to forgive her that blunder from the stalls at York if making the line-up for the Dash. If not, she still could be a sprinter to follow in the near future.
Dance And Dance is a real Epsom specialist having won the Investec Mile and also finished runner-up in the Diomed Stakes and I think he is being lined up for another cracker at the former.
He has not shown a great deal this season but might be just coming to the boil after finishing in mid-division in the Hambleton Stakes run in a monsoon.
He tried to pick his way through the field up the home straight but did not find the clearest passage as the field gathered on the far rail - like the good old days at York - up the home straight.
Joe Fanning was never able to ask for maximum effort because of the traffic problems but he does now look handicapped to put up a big show in a bid to win the race at Epsom he landed back in 2011.
Steelriver has more to offer judged on his fifth in the seven furlong, three-year-old handicap and he finished to great effect once getting in the clear.
Ted Durcan had little option but to drop him in at the rear from his wide draw and the combination spent much of the straight trying to plot a route through to the front rank.
A gap or two finally opened but the race was over although Steelriver did manage to cut the arrears as a group flashed across the line in a bunch finish for the places behind Lancelot Du Lac.
James Bethell's inmate is bred to get better when tackling a mile so this was a very pleasing comeback to build on.
So on to the two recent runners for the feature - Azenzar and Secret Missile.
The former looked to be on an attractive mark of 72 for her handicap debut at Newbury in a fillies' event but ran an absolute nothing race despite being the market leader. She was a bit slow out of the stalls and travelled in rear but made absolutely no impact on the race from the two-furlong marker.
This was puzzling after such a good first outing at Leicester and was one of the few horses to run flat for Roger Varian over the weekend. She is worth another look next time to see if the record can be put straight.
Secret Missile had flopped badly at Newmarket during the Guineas meeting but was backed from an overnight 20/1 down to 8s to gain compensation at Windsor.
However, he never was able to go the pace over the five furlongs and some modest late headway saw him come home in fifth without ever looking a threat.
His cause was not helped to be fair by losing ground going left to the centre of the track under pressure but that did not make any difference in the grand scheme of things.
The strong support in the betting before the off earns him one more chance when facing a stiffer test of stamina.