Libertarian stays on best to claim shock win in Dante Stakes

Aidan O’Brien’s Indian Chief finished third at York

William Buick riding Libertarian (right) win The Betfred Dante Stakes at York. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

William Buick riding Libertarian (right) win The Betfred Dante Stakes at York. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images


Libertarian caused a huge shock when staying on best of all to win the Betfred Dante Stakes at York.

All eight runners had something of a chance two furlongs out, but the unheralded Libertarian had been off the bridle for some time.

Sent off at 33 to 1, William Buick moved to the inside on Elaine Burke’s colt and he powered home to beat Jim Bolger’s Trading Leather, with Aidan O’Brien’s Indian Chief, the 11 to 4 favourite, back in third.

Dashing Star took them along with Trading Leather not far behind, but two furlongs out Ghurair quickened into the lead and looked sure to play a part in the finish.

The previously unbeaten Windhoek threw down a challenge but the race had still to develop in earnest.

Joseph O’Brien tried to find a way through on Indian Chief but he did not quicken up as impressively as the winner, who was well beaten behind Patrick Prendergast’s Sugar Boy in the Sandown Classic Trial.

To his credit, Trading Leather stayed on again, a length and a quarter away, and Bolger is likely to be the happiest behind the Burkes as his Dawn Approach was cut across the board for the Investec Derby on June 1st.

Karl Burke, the winning trainer’s husband and assistant, said: “It is a great win for the yard and everyone connected with the horse.

“He’s a proper horse and having not had many (Derby) horses, or Dante horses even, you are tilting at windmills at bit. We have always thought a lot of him.

“If you watch the race at Sandown it was a nonsense of a race for him. Unfortunatrely Phil (Makin) got stuck on the outside of a horse that was hanging badly and he drifted out.

“He’s such a green horse which is why we came back today to give him more racecourse experience.

“He’s a big backward animal that has taken a lot of time. It was only in March time that he really began to pick up in his work and he’s done nothing but improve since then.”

Buick said: “It was a true-run race and the best horse won on the day.

“He’s a fine big horse. Karl said to me beforehand that as long as I did’t get too far away he’d have a squeak as he stays very well.”

Bolger said of Trading Leather: “I couldn’t be more happy with him and we expect him to come on a lot for the run, although he was as fit as I could get him at home.

“He’d only go to Epsom if something happened to Dawn Approach. This horse and Loch Garman have the options of the Irish Guineas and the French Derby.”

Coolmore’s UK representative Kevin Buckley said of Indian Chief: “Joseph (O’Brien) was happy enough with him and he’s probably still a bit inexperienced.

“This was a big step up, but Joseph felt confident he’d get a mile and a half.”