May 13th, 2021 | Marten's Current Racing Diary
There have been mixed messages from the Derby trials this season and, if anything, the waters looked muddier following today’s Dante Stakes at York.
The race was won in gutsy style by Hurricane Lane, who battled on strongly to beat Megallan by ¾ of a length.
High Definition, who carries my long-term hopes for the Derby, ran a strange race to finish third. The proximity of 89-rated Roman Empire in fourth and Pythagoras, rated 98 in sixth place, casts a slight doubt on the value of the form.
Given that today’s distance is almost two furlongs short of the Derby trip, I would expect High Definition to reverse form with the winner if they meet again. As was the case last year, the son of Galileo took an eternity to find his stride. He was closing the gap at the line and probably would have won in another 200 yards.
The question regarding the Derby is whether such a long-striding colt will manage to engage top gear around a track as undulating as Epsom. The other dilemma, specifically facing Ryan Moore, is whether he should ride this colt or stay loyal to Bolshoi Ballet, who was so impressive in Ireland last weekend.
As always on such occasions, my first point of reference is the form book, which reveals that Bolshoi Ballet is rated on 117, 2lbs superior to High Definition. Having said that, High Definition was beaten today by horses rated 16lbs and 10lbs inferior to him on official figures. Consequently, I would suggest that High Definition needs to improve by about 6 to 10lbs to beat his stable companion.
Of the others in today’s race Gear Up ran a little ‘flat’ in finishing fifth. Mark Johnston will probably be slightly disappointed with this given that he was the only Group 1 winner in the field. That victory came in heavy ground in a race run at a muddling pace, so circumstances may not have suited him.
Roman Empire was probably flattered having been the recipient of an enterprising ride by Hollie Doyle.
Flying Visit, who had chased home Bolshoi Ballet in his previous race, ran too freely, while Uncle Bryn lost his action and may not have finished sound.
John Gosden says that Megallan will go to France for the Prix du Jockey-Club. The trainer added that his colt would be more effective on quicker ground.
Finally, it’s always important to look at the time of the race and the clock reveals that Hurricane Lane was 0.17 seconds slower than impressive winner Queen Power one hour earlier in the Middleton Stakes.
In the race after the Dante, Tim Easterby’s Winter Power made all to win the 5f Westow Stakes by three lengths, with a further five lengths back to the third. She will now head directly to Royal Ascot for the King’s Stand Stakes for which she is a top price of 6/1.
To conclude, it proved an informative and intriguing day but I am not sure we are any the wiser.