Dr Fong has the cure for Dante riddle
DR FONG can follow in the footsteps of last year's winner, Benny The Dip, by taking the Group Two Dante Stakes at York prior to an Epsom Derby glory bid.
Reference Point, trained by Henry Cecil as is Dr Fong is another to have completed the Dante-Derby double. The emphasis here is very much on quality rather than quantity and Michael Stoute has thought better of fielding his Derby hope Greek Dance.
Stoute is toying with the idea of running Greek Dance in the Glasgow Conditions Stakes at York tomorrow. But Greek Dance will still not have things all his own way as he will have to take on the Cecil-trained Capri.
Following the win of stable companion Bahr yesterday, bookmakers Coral make City Honours the 9/4 favourite for the Dante and then go 5/2 Dr Fong, 100/30 Border Arrow and 4/1 Saratoga Springs.
Ian Balding's Border Arrow, a running-on third to King of Kings in the English 2000 Guineas is shortest-priced (at 8/1) for the Derby among the sextet. Dr Fong is 14/1 to complete the double with Saratoga Springs, stable companion to King of Kings, at 33/1.
Trained by Aidan O'Brien, Saratoga Springs produced what was arguably his most impressive run of last season when winning the Acomb Conditions Stakes at York in August. Teapot Row was a long way behind but that was only over 6f against today's 1m 2f.
That was a first time with a visor also for Saratoga Springs but both he and Godolphin's City Honours are now at a fitness disadvantage with Dr Fong. Still, Saratoga Springs showed himself to be a particularly tough type when winning the Racing Post Trophy in October. But Dr Fong is unbeaten after three starts and the stable vibes are very good.
At York yesterday, Bahr retained her unbeaten record and advanced her Epsom Oaks claims. However, the Group Three Musidora Stakes was not a totally satisfactory trial the odds on shot, Midnight Line, was giddy going down to the start and reluctant to go into the stalls.
Midnight Line was forced to make her own running under hat-trick-seeking jockey Kieren Fallon and the race was undoubtedly run to suit the 6/4 winner. But it could be a different story in the Oaks.
Afterwards the York stewards administered a sharp shock to Fallon after the champion jockey was hit with a three-day suspension after a lively performance to deliver Bawsian a half-length winner over Rafaello in the Shepherd Trophy.
The stewards decided that he was guilty of irresponsible riding for interfering with the unplaced Last Christmas. But the offence was classed as minor irresponsible riding, allowing Bawsian to keep the race.
Fallon had earlier shown his strength when teeing up a double on Largesse in the Yorkshire Life Magazine Handicap. He was kept up to his work in the closing to repel the favourite Crystal Falls by three-parts of a length.
Largesse, providing 12-horse trainer John Berry with the biggest success of his career, is a possible for the Ebor back at York in August provided the ground is not too firm.
* The Sporting Life ceases publication following today's edition after 139 years as a racing paper. But plans are afoot to relaunch it as Britain's first seven-day-a-week newspaper covering all sports. Its former rival the Racing Post, which was bought out by the Mirror Group last year, will be the sole daily racing paper, running as the `Racing Post incorporating The Sporting Life'.
* Peter Savill yesterday pledged strong leadership and the improvement of racing's finances after emerging as the new chairman of the British Horseracing Board. His appointment was unopposed.
* Richard Dunwoody has delayed his return from injury to the middle of next week. He was expected to be in action at Chepstow today after aggravating an old shoulder injury last week.