York Dante Festival Day 2 Preview: Too Darn Hot taken to sizzle in featurePublished on: May 14, 2019Author: David Metcalf
The Group 2 Dante Stakes takes centre stage on a fabulous seven-race card at York on Thursday (15:00).
This 1m 2f contest for three-year-old colts is one of the main Epsom Derby trials and 10 horses have won it before going on to capture glory in the premier Classic.
The most recent was the John Gosden trained Golden Horn in 2015, and the Newmarket handler has won three of the last four renewals.
His sole representative this time around is last year’s champion juvenile Too Darn Hot, a 13/8 shot with Unibet.
This beautifully bred son of Dubawi makes his eagerly awaited seasonal reappearance following a training setback which forced him to miss the 2000 Guineas for which he had been a red-hot favourite.
Too Darn Hot put in a sensational performance on debut at Sandown when beating Rowland Ward by seven lengths, and landed the Group 3 Solario Stakes at the same venue in terrific style when again quickening smartly before winning eased down by four lengths from Arthur Kitt.
He backed that up a jaw-dropping performance in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster under regular pilot Frankie Dettori when producing an explosive turn of foot to beat Phoenix Of Spain by 1 3/4 lengths.
Too Darn Hot went on to round off the campaign with yet another breathtaking display when cruising clear to impressively beat Advertise by 2 3/4 lengths in the Group 1 Dewhurst
Stakes at Newmarket.
Those performances have earned him an official rating of 126. It gives him 12lb and upwards in hand on his rivals; so, providing he is ready to do himself justice following 251 days on the sidelines and stays the 1m 2f trip, Too Darn Hot is going to be tough to beat.
Japan a major player for red-hot O’Brien
Top Irish handler Aidan O’Brien has made a sensational start to the season, landing the 1000 and 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
He has also been mopping up in Derby trials after landing the Ballysax and Derrinstown, having seen Sir Dragonet and Circus Maximus romp to victory in the Cheshire Vase and Dee Stakes at Chester, and Anthony Van Dyck defy market weakness to win in good style at Lingfield on Saturday.
So, given the quality of those horses, it makes Japan a fascinating contender in this as he was widely touted over the winter to be O’Brien’s number one hope for The Derby.
This son of Galileo is a full brother to Secret Gesture and Sir Isaac Newton, so is bred to excel over the 1m 4f trip of this.
He had just three runs as a juvenile, shaping with promise when a tenderly handled seventh of 13 to Sydney Opera House on debut at The Curragh before landing a nine-runner maiden at Listowel.
Japan went on to round off the campaign with a gusty short-head success over stable companion Mount Everest in the Group 2 Beresford Stakes over 1m at Naas, with the pair pulling three lengths clear of the third home.
He is clearly a very exciting prospect and looks the obvious danger to Too Darn Hot. Japan can be backed at 4/1 with Ladbrokes to provide O’Brien with a fifth winner of the race.
The Charlie Appleby trained Line Of Duty is a Grade 1 winner after scoring in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs in November.
He is the second highest rated in the line-up, so commands plenty of respect and could well be a bit of value at the 8/1 on offer with William Hill.
Lah Ti Dar has Middleton at her mercy
The other Group 2 on the card is the 1m 2f Middleton Fillies’ Stakes (15:25), and Lah Ti Dar looks a worthy red-hot favourite 4/7 with Coral to land the spoils and spark off a big race double for Newmarket handler Gosden.
This daughter of Dubawi is a full sister to Too Darn Hot and, like that one, carries the colours of Lord and Lady Lloyd Webber.
She created a huge impression when landing a 14-runner maiden on debut when scoring by six lengths, and then took the step up into Listed company in her stride when landing the Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket where she powered clear inside the last to slam Expressly by 3 1/4 lengths.
It was a performance which marked her out as a tremendous top-notch prospect that was bound for Group 1 glory and saw her installed at the head of the ante post betting for the Epsom Oaks. However, injury ruled her out of the fillies’ Classic.
Gosden gave her plenty of time to recover and his patience was rewarded when she totally destroyed the opposition in the Listed 1m 4f Galtres Stakes at this venue pulling effortlessly clear to beat Light Of Joy by 10 lengths.
Lah Ti Dar then ran a cracker when runner-up to Kew Gardens in the Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster, before rounding off the campaign with a solid 1 3/4 lengths third to Magical in the Group 1 Champion Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot.
This represents a drop in class, while an official rating of 114 means that Lah To Dar has 11lb and upwards in hand on her five rivals. It make her impossible to oppose and she is fully expected to justify her cramped odds.
Waarif each-way value in Hambleton
Waarif has caught the eye in his last two starts; so, now that he is back down to his last winning mark, looks cracking each-way value at 16/1 with Betfred in the 1m Hambleton Handicap (15:35).
This David O’Meara trained six-year-old enjoyed a productive time last season when scoring four times, with the last of those success coming at Ascot where he beat Fire Brigade by a length off a rating of 95.
He went on to finish a fine 1 1/2 lengths second of 16 to Just Hiss over this course and distance off 100, and now meets that rival on 9lb better terms.
Waarif also ran very well on his final start of the campaign when a five-length fifth of 20 to Sharja Bridge in the ultra-competitive Balmoral Handicap at Ascot off the same rating.
The son Arcano is now able to race off 95 again having been dropped 2lb since finishing a staying on never nearer four-length sixth of 16 to Haydah in the Thirsk Hunt Cup.
Prior to that, he had also shaped really when when slowly away and doing all his best work at the finish when a 4 1/4 lengths seventh of 12 to the thriving Petrus at Bath.
Waarif appears to be building up to a big performance and, on the pick of his form ,looks weighted to run a huge race in the hands of promising 3lb claimer Conor McGovern.
He is also versatile as regards ground and hails from a yard operating at a strike rate of 20 per cent in the last 14 days at the time of writing, so taking everything into account Waarif has far more going for him than his odds would suggest.
Beringer and Ledham among dangers
There are a whole host of dangers in a typically fierce renewal in which 18 are set to go to post and Beringer, a standout 13/2 with William Hill, looks sure to go well under in-form jockey Andrea Atzeni.
This Alan King trained four-year-old is a tough and consistent sort who has won four times and been placed on five occasions from 13 starts on the turf.
He ran a cracker on seasonal reappearance when a three-length third of 19 to handicap blot Auxerre in the Lincoln at Doncaster, and has since shown tremendous battling qualities to land a decent eight-runner contest at Newmarket by a head from Power Of Darkness.
The assessor appears to have been kind in raising Beringer just 3lb for that taking success, so a bold bid to follow-up looks assured in a race which should be run to suit.
Another with leading claims is the Sir Michael Stoute trained Ledham, a lightly raced and progressive four-year-old who shaped with plenty of promise on seasonal reappearance at Haydock when a 2 1/2 lengths second of 11 to Mordin.
The son of Shamardal kept on nicely and looks sure to come on a bundle for the outing, his first in 193 days. He is now reunited with Ryan Moore, who is 1-1 on him, and can be backed at 13/2 with Bethard.