Today’s Dante Stakes is the feature race of the three-day York May meeting and has proved an excellent trial for the Derby in recent years with Workforce (2010), Authorized (2007), Motivator (2005) and North Light (2004) all running in the race before going on to Epsom glory.

This year’s renewal is fascinating because two of the first three in the market pulled hard on their reappearance and will have to be more amenable to restraint this afternoon in this better grade. Favourite True Story (8/11 at BetVictor) is only 11/2 for the Derby, will be ridden by Kieren Fallon and there are mixed messages from the form book with regard to his, visually, impressive win in the Newmarket Feilden Stakes last month.

The runner up (Obliterator) was green and eased when beaten, the third (Truth Or Dare) was beaten half the track next time but the fourth and fifth (Barley Mow and Somewhat) have run very well next time especially the former who won a decent listed contest back at Newmarket at the Guineas’ meeting. This will be the slowest ground True Story has run on and connections were considering pulling the colt out earlier in the week. It is possible that it was just freshness, hadn’t run since July, that made the Godolphin trained runner pull hard at Newmarket but he makes no appeal at 8/11 and is readily overlooked.

The form of Bunker’s listed win over Karakontie at Deauville reads very well given the latter landed the French Guineas last weekend but I am going to take a chance on Arod (2.45) who pulled like a train but still came home an impressive Windsor maiden winner when backed as if defeat was out of the question.

He can’t afford the luxury of wasting energy raised to this class but, as with True Story, the hope is that the run will make him more amenable to restraint and he gets the vote at 8/1 with BetVictor.

The Group 2 Middleton Stakes is the day’s other feature with the trip likely to be on the sharp side for the penalised The Lark and the ground may not have dried up suffice for Ambivalent. The vote goes to Ralph Beckett’s Secret Gesture (2.15) who ran away with the Lingfield Oaks trial on her first start last year before finishing runner up in the Oaks.

Her form tailed off towards the end of the season but we know she goes well fresh, her stable are in excellent form and at 7/2 I would be surprised if she didn’t go very close.

Justice Day (3.50) maintained his form very well as a juvenile and the hope is there is plenty more to come this term although I am slightly surprised to see him back at the minimum trip given he hasn’t run over 5 furlongs since the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot back in June.

That said this is a race that will tell us whether he has the speed for 5f and whether races such as the Temple Stakes and King’s Stand Stakes back at the Royal meeting are realistic early season objectives.

It wasn’t Ryan Moore’s finest hour when Calculated Risk (5.00) was beaten at Pontefract last time and the gelding is given another chance in a cracking finale given he was very well supported into 15/8 favourite on that occasion.

Entihaa’s second to Hassle at Nottingham was given a boost when the winner followed up last weekend back at the Est Midlands track but, at the foot of the weights, Calculated Risk can keep the prize in Yorkshire.

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