Our racing expert Ben Linfoot has two Value Bet selections for day two of the Dante Festival at York as Too Darn Hot makes his seasonal reappearance.
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Aidan O’Brien has dominated the Derby trials this season but Thursday’s Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York is all about the return of last year’s top juvenile Too Darn Hot.
Rated 126 after an unbeaten two-year-old career, John Gosden’s charge showed tremendous speed throughout a campaign that culminated in Group One glory in the Dewhurst.
That form was franked by Anthony Van Dyck in the Lingfield trial at the weekend and now Too Darn Hot gets the chance to display his own Derby credentials, where a win would likely see him reclaim Epsom favouritism from O’Brien’s Sir Dragonet.
His family have a history of missing Classic engagements and he suffered a splint problem that saw himself miss the Guineas this season, but if he’s as good over 10 furlongs on Thursday as he was over seven at two the rest will be playing for second.
It’s a fascinating prospect on day two of the Dante meeting and while the feature is a race to watch and learn from, a couple of handicaps get the betting juices flowing including the Matchbook Betting Podcast Hambleton Handicap at 3.35.
Mutafani is the interesting horse in this, a handicap debutant for Simon Crisford who made a big impression in a couple of novice events just under a year ago.
He hasn’t been seen since, but the handicapper hasn’t given him an easy task off 91 for all his potential and his lack of experience is enough to put me off at short enough odds.
At the other end of the experience scale is LOVE DREAMS for Mark Johnston and at 12/1 (Ladbrokes, 11/1 General) he looks primed and ready to run a big race.
This time last year he was second in this very contest off a mark of 100, beating all bar Afaak comfortably with recent Victoria Cup winner Cape Byron back in fourth.
That’s good form and he followed up the run with an easy win at Goodwood seven days later, so we know this is his time of year and he gets in this time around off a 5lb lower mark of 95.
His form tailed off towards the end of last season and he didn’t fire in Meydan at the start of the year, but he’s looked right back to his old self in two runs back in England, seconds at Kempton and Goodwood ample evidence that he’s working his way back to his best.
He got caught late on at Goodwood last time but pulled well clear of the rest and a 2lb rise for that performance looks fair enough.
Drawn centrally on Thursday, he should get across and gain a prominent pitch under PJ McDonald and, perfectly at home on Good to Firm ground, it might just take a good one to catch him.
I will leave it at that for the Hambleton, although Bless Him was very much on the radar.
He won the Britannia off a 5lb higher mark two years ago and ran well at York last July where he missed the break before making up his ground well in a race that didn’t suit the hold-up horses.
This son of Sea The Stars has now been gelded, but he’s not been easy for David Simcock to train and might just need the run ahead of a potential crack at the Royal Hunt Cup, if he gets in.
Earlier on we have another impossible-looking York sprint in the 1.50 Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap but there is a great deal of pace on the far side with Saaheq, Abel Handy, Juastanotherbottle and Henley likely prominent racers from the low numbers.
Whether that translates to the winner coming from over on that part of the track remains to be seen, but it does mean that TOMMY TAYLOR should get a nice tow into things and he’s worth backing at 12/1 (General).
Rated 107 at his best, he’s really well-handicapped off 91 now and showed enough speed in a first-time visor at Doncaster over six furlongs last time to suggest he can cope with the drop to five.
Getting a bit of cover over a strongly-run five could well be ideal for him and it’s with hope the retained visor has the desired effect again as if he runs like he did at Doncaster he won’t be taken off his feet.
That’s the worry looking at his earlier form, but he likes York, he likes fast ground, the visor seems to have perked him up and this could well be run to suit.
If you don’t feel those drawn towards the stands’ side will be inconvenienced, the speedy Eeh Bah Gum and Royal Birth, 10lb well in on his all-weather form, are two to consider.
Ben Linfoot's Value Bet aim: The Value Bet is designed to generate long-term profit by searching for overpriced horses in the feature weekend races and at the big Festivals in the UK and Ireland. Running total: +323.69pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 BST on 15/05/19.