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York Dante Festival 2023 tips: Best bets and a 96/1 treble
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Enda McElhinney
Racing Post

- The Racing Post bumper preview is here 
- Key talking points for each day 
- Best bets of the week including: 
- Novakai to win the Musidora Stakes 
- Emily Dickinson to win the Yorkshire Cup

It's the start of a brand new season at York this week as they host their three-day Dante Festival from Wednesday onwards.

The racecourse labels the Dante Meeting as the beginning of the social summer with the scent of newly mown grass and freshly planted flowers on the famous Knavesmire turf.

Here is our look ahead to the big meeting at York this week.

Day 1 - Wednesday May 17

Key talking point - Will Cosmos be the toast of York?

The Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (15:35) is a key race on day one as Sir Michael Stoute's impressive recent Newmarket winner Infinite Cosmos steps up in class for this Fillies' Group 3 contest.

The daughter of Sea The Stars delivered an improved showing in that seasonal bow and her connections have every right to be hopeful she can avenge her debut defeat behind re-opposing Sea Of Roses from Doncaster in November now.

That pair are respected but look out too for Karl Burke's Novakai, the Lope De Vega filly was last spotted finishing a fine second behind Commissioning in the Group 1 Fillies' Mile at Newmarket in the autumn and her big-race experience could be key.

Wednesday's best bet: Novakai to win the Musidora Stakes (15:35) @ 11/2

This big-striding filly was outgunned by Commissioning over a mile at Newmarket last time but really stuck to her guns that afternoon, the pair well clear of everything else. She could excel upped in trip now.

Day 2 - Thursday May 18

Key talking point - Unbeaten trio to contest exciting Dante Stakes

As well as Infinite Cosmos on day one, Sir Michael Stoute hopes he has a star on day two with Passenger in the Dante Stakes
As well as Infinite Cosmos on day one, Sir Michael Stoute hopes he has a star on day two with Passenger in the Dante Stakes

A dozen contenders were declared for the Group 2 Dante Stakes (15:35), the feature race of this three-day meeting, and they include unbeaten trio Canberra Legend (James Ferguson), Continuous (Aidan O'Brien) and Passenger (Sir Michael Stoute).

The last-named impressed on debut in the Wood Ditton at Newmarket four weeks ago and has plenty of scope for progress, while Canberra Legend did well to win the Feilden Stakes at HQ, having got unbalanced in the dip. 

Ballydoyle inmate Continuous won both starts as a 2YO including a French Group 3 over a mile in September.

Add in 110-rated Flying Honours for Charlie Appleby, winner of the Zetland Stakes at Newmarket over 1m2f when last spotted in the autumn, and it's already a mouth-watering renewal with just a third of the field considered.

Thursday's best bet: Free Wind to win the Middleton Fillies' Stakes @ 6/4

John & Thady Gosden saddle Free Wind in this Group 2 and she looks a massive player. She won 4-5 starts in 2021 and was a comfortable winner of the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock last July on her sole start of last year. 

This slight drop in trip is not a massive worry for her and she gets a handy 3lb from market rivals Aristia and Toskana Belle. Frankie Dettori's mount is the one to beat.

Day 2 - Friday May 19

Key talking point - Is Emily Dickinson to become classy Cup contender?

Aidan O'Brien tends to know what he has got on his hands and the Ballydoyle chief pinpointed Emily Dickinson as a possible Cup horse for this summer before her impressive winning return in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan last month.

She won that in strong fashion and will be very interesting if taking up this engagement. 

Three-time Yorkshire Cup winner Stradivarius is now happily enjoying his retirement so there is a crown to be inherited and the Dubawi filly could be the one for the job.

Friday's best bet: Emily Dickinson to win the Yorkshire Cup (15:35) @ 9/2

Winner of her last two starts in Ireland in Group 3/Listed company by a combined tally of more than 10 lengths, she looks a smart recruit to this sphere and her Glorious Goodwood third behind Sea La Rosa last summer suggests that facing a quicker surface now will not hinder her claims.

York Dante Festival 2023 Acca: Our three to follow at odds of 96/1

Bet 1: Back Novakai in the Musidora Stakes (Wednesday 15:35) @ 11/2

Infinite Cosmos may ultimately prove a top-level filly but, for now, 113-rated Novakai can take her measure. Her Newmarket second in the Group 1 Fillies' Mile is strong form and Karl Burke's charge can improve at this increased distance.

Bet 2: Back Ramazan in the Conundrum HR Consulting Handicap (Wednesday 16:10) @ 5/1

This son of Kodiac ended last season with a fine effort when a one-length third in the Goffs Million at the Curragh over 7f, having won over 5f/6f at Beverley and Haydock earlier in the summer. He is unexposed at the trip and has been gelded over the winter. There should be more to come.

Bet 3: Back Free Wind in the Middleton Fillies' Stakes (Thursday 14:25) @ 6/4

Free Wind is a smart mare with five wins from only six starts on grass. Her only start in 2022 saw her utterly dominant in the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock (1m4f, soft) when accounting for Sea La Rosa — winner of three races at Group 1/2 level afterwards. This slight drop in trip is no concern and she gets 3lb from two of her main rivals.


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