Ben Linfoot diary from day two of the York Dante Festival

The Telecaster team celebrate his Dante win
The Telecaster team celebrate his Dante win

Ben Linfoot was at York on Thursday to see a horse that isn't in the Derby beat a horse that won't go for the Derby in the Dante. But the third might well run at Epsom...

The pick of Thursday's action

Derby dilemma for Telecaster team

15.23pm. York parade ring. Telecaster has just won the Dante, so often the best Derby trial, but there is a problem. Telecaster isn’t in the Derby. It costs £85,000 to supplement, so a decision has to be made – and soon.

Mark Weinfeld, wearing an orange and black tie that matches the silks of his winner, is the owner-breeder.

“It’s a real thrill,” he says. “We’ve got a Derby horse on our hands, it’s just a case of which Derby.

“The supplementary fee for Epsom is more than the prizemoney than he has won today. It’s only two weeks away, as well. That’s probably a more important reason for not going, if we didn’t go.

“We’ll see what the trainer says.”

15.26pm. York parade ring. Telecaster’s trainer, Hughie Morrison, is asked what it feels like to have a potential Derby winner on his hands.

“It’s what it’s all about,” he says. “Training racehorses isn’t easy, there are ups and there are downs….and I’ve never had a horse like him to compare him to.”

A big decision has to be made. My gut feeling, after speaking to the owner, was that they’d wait and go for the Irish Derby. But, then again, there is only one Derby. And this horse is a 5/1 shot.

Surf's up for Epsom test

One horse that isn’t going is Too Darn Hot. He’ll drop in trip for the St James’s Palace Stakes and you can read about that here.

But the third, Surfman, could go. He’s a half-brother to Kitesurf, last year’s Group One Prix Vermeille winner, and this was his first go over 10 furlongs on turf.

About 40 yards away from the aforementioned Morrison and Weinfeld in the sun-bathed York parade ring stood Roger Varian, trainer of Surfman, and he was watching the replay on the big screen, doing the hand-as-a-visor thing.

“We’ve had a lot of ground to make up and I’m not worried about that,” says Varian, not looking too worried.

“He’s made up the ground up the middle very nicely. It’s the first time he’s been in a proper race and I think hindsight will tell us that it’s a good run.

“I’m not too worried he hasn’t won today given the circumstances.”

Kitesurf’s Group One win was over 1m4f. Surfman shaped today as if he’d get another two furlongs. But, only third in the Dante, will he run in the Derby?

“I think he’s going to stay a mile and a half,” Varian says. “I wouldn’t rule out running him in the Derby. We’ll see. I think it was a good run. He’s a beautiful horse.

“If you look where the winner was positioned and the second, he was the best two-year-old we’ve seen for a while. They had lengths on us, he’s come from way back and he’s galloped all the way to the line.

“This is a Derby trial and we didn’t win it, but I wouldn’t write him off, I wouldn’t say he hasn’t passed his Derby trial. We’ll see how he comes out of it and we’ll make a plan but he’s a very nice horse. We’ll see.”

A second ‘we’ll see’ seals it for me. He runs in the Derby. The way he kept on after being a tad keen in the early stages bodes well. Some bookies cut him to 10s for Epsom, some pushed him out to 16s.

He could yet be the only horse from the first three home in the Dante to strut his stuff in the Derby. He's a lovely looker, as you can see below, and I think he’ll go well.

Surfman after his promising Dante third
Surfman after his promising Dante third

Copper turns into Gold

While the Dante was all about the expensive blue bloods, there was a reminder of the gold that can be found at the lower end of the sales spectrum after the card’s opener.

“William bought him for five grand,” remarks Tim Easterby, referring to his son in the first instance, after the bargain buy in question, Copper Knight, won the Matchbook Betting Exchange Stakes.

This victory nestled him another £18,675 to the burgeoning six-figure sum he’s acquiring for his connections, the five-furlong speedster winning on Good to Firm ground for the first time.

That opens up more doors for him, and the Investec Dash, the fastest five furlongs on these shores, is next on the horizon.

A sweet £61,590 is on offer for the winning horse in that race and the swift of foot Copper Knight doesn’t look like he’s finished paying his way just yet.



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