Pearl of Wisdom on Dante day

Thursday 16th May, 3:45pm

Ancient Wisdom @ 11/8
Al Musmak @ 10/3
Caviar Heights @ 4/1
Cambridge @ 10/1
view odds

*prices correct at time of writing. 

Ah, it’s mid-May, the sun’s out (more than it has been) and Epsom’s just around the corner: it must be time for the first big week of the year on the Knavesmire, featuring the Al Basti Equiworld Dante Stakes (Thursday, 3-45). The Dante, named after the last colt from flat racing’s northern circuit to win the Derby (in 1945, and at Newmarket), has proved a reliable guide to the Epsom and Irish stagings of the premier Classic.

All but two are in at Epsom, though the others, Cambridge and Economics (what a pairing), can be supplemented for £75,000. Ancient Wisdom became Godolphin’s highest-rated European juvenile in 2023 – ten pounds behind City Of Troy – when winning four out of five races including the Kameko Futurity at Doncaster, with God’s Window third.

Understandably, with his progressive profile, Ancient Wisdom heads them, and sentimental support will doubtless come his stable’s way too following Hidden Law’s fatal injury after his Chester Vase success. Al Musmak brings quality form having finished runner-up in the Royal Lodge, behind the 2000 Guineas fourth Ghostwriter and in front of Dee Stakes winner Capulet (third), and, like Godolphin, the stable has a Guineas under its belt.

Caviar Heights ran out a comfortable winner of the Newmarket Stakes on the Rowley Mile. Coolmore’s Cambridge was well-held behind Hateem in the Craven Stakes, but is sure to enjoy this longer distance. Economics is one for the “could be anything” category; his reputation on the gallops is A* and the form of both runs has a striking look to it.

As a signpost to the middle-distance Classics, the Dante should live up to its billing: it’s Ancient Wisdom for me – what about you?

In the Jorvik Handicap (Wednesday 2-15), the seven-year-old Kihavah relishes the course and distance challenge, having won three races from five starts. Oisin Murphy rides.

Surprising stat alert: the Clive Cox-trained Diligent Harry (Duke of York Stakes, Wednesday 3-15) has never won on grass; he’s seven from eleven on an artificial surface, but is surely much too good for that turf record to last too much longer.

Team Gosden has dominated the Musidora Stakes (Wednesday 3-45) in recent years, and, with the unbeaten Friendly Soul, is on a hatrick after the victories of Oaks hard-luck story Emily Upjohn and last year’s Epsom heroine Soul Sister. Friendly Soul took the Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket (ten days ago) with a fair degree of authority, and could be a horse to cement the post-Dettori association for the stable with Kieran Shoemark. Classical Song and La Pasionaria are from a stable bubbling with filly-talent so any moves in the betting should be noted.

Big Evs is back, in the Westow Stakes (Thursday 4-15); how will his three-year-old career pan out after all that magnificence at Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood, Santa Anita etc? It’s probably irrelevant, but his only big-race blip in 2023 came over course and distance in the Nunthorpe.

For all your bets at the Dante Festival, visit our dedicated horse racing betting page.

Please play responsibly