Godolphin’s Secret Number to stake Derby claims in DanteYork preview and report
Trading Leather, a Group Three winner last season, represents Jim Bolger
Liber Nauticus (Ryan Moore) stakes her claim for the Epsom Oaks when landing yesterday’s Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York. Photograph: Getty Images
Godolphin’s Secret Number can stake his Investec Derby claims as he lines up in today’s Betfred Dante Stakes at York. With the Jim Bolger-trained Dawn Approach a strong favourite for Epsom on the back of his impressive 2,000 Guineas win in Godolphin’s blue silks, Secret Number could emerge as a strong second string if he can rise to the challenge on the Knavesmire.
The Raven’s Pass colt won a Kempton maiden on his only start at two before landing a Listed race at the Dubai Carnival in impressive fashion. He was considered by many to be unlucky when only third in the UAE Derby.
Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor’s string have been slow coming to hand this year but he issued an upbeat bulletin on his Classic hopeful. “Secret Number worked on Sunday and went really nicely,” said Bin Suroor.
“He ran very well out in Dubai and finished third in the UAE Derby, and he was a bit unlucky in that. He doesn’t show too much in a morning but I think he is a mile-and-a-half horse. The Dante is only 10 furlongs but it should suit him well enough for now.
“I’m really happy with him. We’ll start him off in the Dante and then go from there. He’ll learn a lot in a race like the Dante as it looks like being a good race.
“We’ll keep his Derby options open as I’m sure a mile and a half will suit him best.”
The first three from a valuable sales race at Newmarket’s Craven meeting all clash again. That day Mark Johnston’s Windhoek defied a lengthy absence and inexperience to just come out on top against Luca Cumani’s Greatwood and the John Gosden-trained Ghurair.
Ghurair was beaten just half a length in third and jockey Paul Hanagan believes he goes to York in much better shape. “I’m very happy with this horse. I don’t think we saw the best of him at Newmarket. He was still a bit rusty,” Hanagan told At The Races.
“I’ve ridden him twice now in work. I’ve always thought a lot of him and I don’t think he’ll let us down. I don’t know if he’s good enough to win, but we’ll find out. He’s in great order.”
Bolger knows exactly where he stands in the three-year-old division this season as he handles both Dawn Approach and Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial second Loch Garman. Trading Leather, a Group Three winner last season, will represent Bolger here as he makes his seasonal bow, but Secret Number looks the pick.
Michael Stoute will be pondering Liber Nauticus’ Investec Oaks prospects after she came cleanly through her warm-up in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York. The trainer himself is still recovering at home in Newmarket after an operation and received a timely boost from the unbeaten filly after her length-and-a-half defeat of Romantic Settings.
Liber Nauticus lost her position in the market after the recent performances of Moth and Secret Gesture, but victory in what is generally perceived as the most important trial leaves her one of the main contenders.