One of the great Spring meetings gets underway on Wednesday with the Dante Festival at York. There promises to be some top-class action across the three days and here are Nick Luck’s thoughts and fancies for day one.


THRONE HALL is the choice at 17/2 in the TV opener at York on Day One of the Dante Festival (1.40pm). This is a seriously hot handicap in which any number can be fancied, but the selection has some really strong form, will like the ground, and is better off at the weights with Ilaraab from their meeting at Beverley last year, despite being somewhat unlucky that day. He got mugged trying to give nine pounds to a smart filly at Thirsk last time but remains highly progressive.

MR LUPTON can roll back the years in the six-furlong handicap (2.10pm) at 10/1. He found his form after the handicapper gave him a chance last year, but he has been dropped again to a winning mark since the start of this year, despite not really being out of form. He promises to get the perfect draft into the race here, as he is drawn right alongside likely pace Hey Jonesy, and he remains a class act against this calibre of opposition.

MOLATHAM is definitely worth a try as a sprinter, and I’m hoping his class will see him through as he drops in trip for the Duke Of York (2.40pm) at 17/2. I went back and watched his win in the Jersey Stakes and was struck by how smoothly he moved into that race before making quite heavy weather of it.  His subsequent efforts certainly seemed to suggest he was not a miler. His pedigree is inconclusive in this respect, but his half-sister Perfection was very effective at six furlongs and there are plenty of fast horses in the family.

TEONA is a pretty unoriginal pick in the Musidora (3.10pm), but she’s bred to be good (out of Group One winner Ambivalent) and looked potentially exceptional when breaking her maiden. Trainer Roger Varian has already finished second in two Oaks Trials (Chester and Lingfield; latter gives him a good line into Noon Star’s Wetherby form), but evidently rates this filly the best of the three, which makes her a compelling proposition here at 5/4.

BOWMAN will need to step forward again from Lingfield but might just do so in the concluding ITV handicap (3.40pm) at 17/2. He has a nice bit of tactical speed for this tricky seven-furlong track at York and seemed to get on very well with Silvestre de Sousa last time when beating a well handicapped rival that has franked the form.

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