Day 2 of the Dante Festival at York looks another cracker with some more great racing on the cards with the Dante, of course, the highlight. Classic clues are on offer there and here are Nick Luck’s thoughts on the big one as well as the rest of the ITV races.


VENTUROUS gets a narrow vote in York’s opening race on Thursday (1.40pm) at 12/1. He is generally a pretty consistent horse and, as everyone knows, the pick of his all-weather efforts will always make him competitive in this grade. There were strong signs last week at Chester, however, that he was capable of a very big run on turf in his current form. Indeed, he might well have won that with the rub of the green, and he’s worth another chance here. If he breaks on terms, a very fast run five furlongs will be fine.

CABALETTA gets the nod at 8/1 in a slightly weaker Middleton (2.10pm) than is usually the case. That said, I think this powerful, big filly could make up into a real one this year. Her best effort last year came when she defeated the useful Lady G at Newbury, after which she ran creditably when second behind Enbihaar at Goodwood. I am not convinced she really stayed 14 furlongs and, while she might want a mile and a half, I think today’s trip will be fine, as they get racing early enough at York and the long straight is sure to suit.

SHELIR can get the job done in a really tight mile handicap (2.40pm). I love the horse, but he’s making life hard work for himself by running a bit too keenly in the early stages. Notwithstanding that, he keeps running really well and I think he is lucky to have got away with only going up a pound for his narrow defeat at Haydock last time, when he travelled like a million times the best horse. That was another improved effort, suggesting there could be more to come, and I am hoping for another bold effort on the sharp end at 12/1.

HURRICANE LANE is a hopeful pick at 11/2 for an absorbing Dante (3.10pm). Charlie Appleby had a bout of seconditis in the Classic Trials last week, but this colt by Frankel might be the real deal judged on his victory at Newbury on his comeback. In beating the more experienced Maximal, he achieved a strong level of form, which was boosted somewhat (or at least confirmed) by another solid effort from the runner up in the Dee Stakes at Chester. The Newbury third, Tasman Bay, is still considered a potential Derby contender by his trainer. Hurricane Lane went through the gears comfortably, is open to progress, will love the conditions and represents fair value against the favourite here.

ACKLAM EXPRESS isn’t much of a price at 2/1, but has been found the right opportunity in the Westow Stakes (3.40pm). His efforts in Dubai appeared to show his form to have stepped up to another level, form which is not matched by any of these save Winter Power’s runaway win in the Cornwallis. That effort, however, was out of keeping with her previous efforts and she’s not got a cast iron pedigree to improve as a three-year-old.

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