Hurricane Lane extended his unbeaten record to three wins when capturing the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York. Charlie Appleby's colt had beaten Maximal in a ten furlongs conditions event at Newbury last month and stepped up on that performance as he tackled Pattern company for the first time. Aidan O'Brien's Roman Empire ensured the race was run at a decent tempo with Hollie Doyle sending her mount for home along way from the finish. As he began to faulter approach the final furlong, it was the Godolphin owned colt who hit the front and held off the challenge of Megallan by three parts of a length. The winner is a son of Frankel out of a Shirocco mare and from the family of Group 1 winner Seal of Approval. He is therefore bred to appreciate the step up to a mile and a half in the Epsom Derby. John Gosden's runner-up is set to remain over a mile and a quarter and contest the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly, a race his trainer won last year with Mishriff.
All eyes were on Aidan O'Brien's High Definition beforehand and, while he failed to maintain his unbeaten record, he emerged with plenty of credit having finishing third. Beaten two lengths, the son of Galileo came off the bridle soon after the leaders turned for home and it took an age for Ryan Moore's mount to engage top gear. Staying on with every stride, he is crying out for a step up to a mile and a half on this evidence. I would take a positive view because of the fact he was forced to miss the Lingfield Derby Trial last weekend due to an abnormal blood count and it was a race against time for him to line up at York. He will therefore almost certainly improve significantly for the outing. On the downside, it is a case of whether the Epsom Derby will come too soon and he will won't improve enough between now and Saturday 5th June - during recent years, stablemates Japan and Mogul have both run well at Epsom but progressed as the season went on. The other question mark is whether he has the speed to win a Derby - stamina is obviously important at Epsom but speed is just as crucial.
The Dante aside, it was Tim Easterby who dominated the second day of the Festival with a double. Copper Knight (11/2) recorded his fifth course victory on the Knavesmire when taking the opening five furlongs handicap. The seven year old had finished third at Chester last week and improved upon that effort here with a fine fronting display under James Sullivan. Registering his first win since July 2019, he stayed on well to win by half a length. Stablemate Winter Power (5/1) produced a blistering display in the Listed five furlongs event later on the card. A four times winning juvenile, the daughter of Bungle Inthejungle was forced to carry a penalty but it didn't prevent her from trouncing her rivals by upwards of three lengths. Making all, she displayed lightning speed to have all her rivals in trouble at halfway. The Group 1 King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot (15th June) is her next target and, given the fact she handles any ground, she will be a major threat to all her rivals with her age and sex allowance. Both Dominica (2002) and Lady Aurelia (2017) were the last two three year old fillies to land the five furlongs event.
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