Investec Derby Festival 2013 

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Burke Hoping Libertarian Can Bounce Back in Dante

The Group Two Betfred Dante Stakes at York is always an informative trial for the Investec Derby, the premier British Classic which is staged at Epsom Downs on June 1.

North Light (2004), Motivator (2005) and Authorized (2007) all annexed the extended 10-furlong contest en route to glory at Epsom Downs since the turn of the century, while Workforce (2010) finished second in the Dante before going on to win the Epsom Derby in record time.

Trading Leather
© Caroline Norris

Trading Leather
A strong field of eight will go to post for this year’s renewal of the Dante Stakes on Thursday, May 16, and Ireland’s champion trainer Aidan O’Brien could add another string to his Investec Derby bow with Leopardstown maiden scorer Indian Chief, currently a 25/1 chance for Classic glory at Epsom Downs with Coral, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival.

Ireland will also be represented by Jim Bolger’s Trading Leather (25/1), who won two of his four starts as a juvenile including the Group Three Autumn Stakes at Newmarket in October, while Saeed bin Suroor will be relying on Secret Number (20/1), who forfeited his unbeaten record when a luckless third in the Group Two UAE Derby on Tapeta at Meydan in March.

Windhoek, Greatwood (20/1) and Ghurair, who filled the first three places in the £200,000 Tattersalls Millions 3-Y-O Trophy at Newmarket last month, all reoppose.

© Racehorse Photos

Dante (1945) was the last Northern-trained winner of the Derby and Libertarian (100/1), trained in Yorkshire by Elaine Burke, will be hoping to put himself in the picture for Epsom Downs.

The son of 2008 Investec Derby winner New Approach was a second entry for the Epsom Downs Classic in April and made a winning debut over 10 furlongs at Pontefract on April 9. He was subsequently fourth at Sandown Park in the Group Three bet365 Classic Trial on April 26, when he was carried across the course and lost a substantial amount of ground.

Karl Burke, husband and assistant to the trainer, said: “Libertarian is in great form. He didn’t come out of the Sandown race quite as we would have liked and his participation in the Dante was under review but in the last week he has really blossomed.

“The only positive you could take out of the race at Sandown was that he managed to finish as close as he did and, because of that, I think he has gone under the radar a bit.

“I’m not saying he would have won, but after reviewing the race so many times, I cannot see how he wouldn’t have been at least five lengths closer to them which would have put him on the heels of the first three.

“We know he is crying out for a mile and a half already and the Dante is probably going to be on the sharp side for him as well but he is badly in need of experience if we are going to go for the Investec Derby.

“The course at York should suit him and it is also on our doorstep but whether a big raw horse like him can go and bounce back after almost three weeks is a question mark.

“Being realistic, if he can finish in the first four, not beaten too far and staying on, it will be an encouraging run. There is no superstar in the race and to me, everything looks up for grabs.

“If it wasn’t for the Derby, we would probably be going a completely different route with him but there is only one Derby and we are keen to get him there if it is at all possible. We will make a decision after his run on Thursday and everything is on hold until then.”

The field for the Betfred Dante Stakes is completed by David Elsworth’s Dashing Star. If one of the three Dante Stakes runners not currently entered in the Investec Derby (Dashing Star, Ghurair and Windhoek) were to run well on Thursday, then there is one final chance to make the field for the Investec Derby at the £75,000 supplementary entry stage on Monday, May 27.

Telescope, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, was expected to be among the declarations but has been ruled out with a minor leg infection.

Over the past week, trials for the Investec Derby have been held at Chester, Lingfield Park and Leopardstown in Ireland, resulting in a clean sweep for horses trained by Aidan O’Brien.

Ruler Of The World
© Caroline Norris

Ruler Of The World
In the MBNA Chester Vase, Ruler Of The World was an impressive six-length winner and is currently an 8/1 chance for Investec Derby glory with Coral. Magician also caught the eye when successful by four lengths in the Dee Stakes, although Coral were not so impressed with this performance and he is 20/1 to capture the premier Classic on June 1.

At Lingfield Park on May 11, the Ballydoyle bandwagon continued as Nevis triumphed in the Listed Betfred Derby Trial, scoring by nine lengths although his task was made simpler with the late withdrawal of favourite Greatwood. He is 25/1 with Coral for the Investec Derby.

Two of O’Brien’s three Investec Derby winners (Galileo in 2001 and High Chaparral in 2002) warmed up for Epsom Downs by landing the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown. This year O’Brien sent out Battle Of Marengo to success in the Group Two contest, with the Galileo colt scoring comfortably by a length and three quarters from the previously undefeated Loch Garman. Battle Of Marengo is 9/2 second favourite with Coral for the Investec Derby.

Some late Investec Derby clues could be provided in the Listed Fairway Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday, where four of the 10 entries are also engaged in the Investec Derby – Greatwood, Hillstar, Jammy Guest and Tha’ir.

Goodwood stages the Listed CASCO EBF Cocked Hat Stakes on Friday, May 24. Rewilding won the Goodwood contest in 2010 prior to taking third in the Investec Derby.

Secret Gesture
© Racehorse Photos

Secret Gesture
The Investec Oaks picture also became clearer over the last week with Secret Gesture, trained by Ralph Beckett, being installed as 3/1 favourite for the fillies’ Classic with Coral after a facile 10-length demolition of her rivals in the Listed Betfred ‘The Bonus King’ Oaks Trial at Lingfield on May 11.

Hughie Morrison’s Banoffee is likely to be supplemented for the Investec Oaks after an impressive success in the Listed Weatherbys Bank Cheshire Oaks on May 8. The daughter of Hurricane Run is a 12/1 chance with Coral.

Liber Nauticus, 5/1 third favourite for the Investec Oaks, and Woodland Aria (16/1) will put their unbeaten records on the line in the Group Three Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York on Wednesday. Sariska was the last filly to complete the Musidora-Oaks double in 2009.

The next scratchings deadline for the Investec Derby and the Investec Oaks is at noon this Friday, May 17.

Latest odds for the Investec Derby from Coral: 5/4 Dawn Approach, 9/2 Battle Of Marengo, 8/1 Ocovango, Ruler Of The World, Telescope, 10/1 Mars, 16/1 Windhoek, 20/1 Chopin, Greatwood, Loch Garman, Magician, Secret Number, Van Der Neer, Zand, 25/1 Bravodino, Foundry, Improvisation, Indian Chief, Leading Light, Nevis, Pedro The Great, Steeler, Tarikhi, Trading Leather, 33/1 Achtung, Eye Of The Storm, Festive Cheer, Flying The Flag, Galileo Rock, Genius Boy, Lake Michigan, Lake Nova, Leitir Mor, Lord Provost, Manndawi, Mighty Yar, Mutashaded, Parker Ridge, Qahir, Royal Flag, Saskatchewan, The Vatican, Vayakhan, Victory Song, 40 Bar

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