Elaine Burke’s Libertarian caused a massive shock at York in the last big Investec Derby trial of the season when powering to a 33/1 success in the Group 2 Betfred Dante Stakes to present his credentials for consideration in the main event scheduled for Epsom on June 1.
Always highly regarded by his Middleham handler, the son of 2008 Derby winner New Approach had made a winning debut at Pontefract in April and then was reportedly unsuited by racing alone for much of the contest in the Group 3 Bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown a few weeks later, eventually coming home fourth behind Ireland’s Sugar Boy.
With the bare form appearing to be nothing out of the ordinary punters gave the northern-trained colt the swerve and concentrated on Aidan O’Brien’s Indian Chief, Luca Cumani’s Greatwood, John Gosden’s Ghurair, and Mark Johnston’s Windhoek.
But in a race of changing fortunes in which each of the leading fancies had a chance inside the final two furlongs, it was Ireland’s Trading Leather who appeared on the scene with what looked a winning run before Libertarian came with a wet sail on the inside of the track to catch them all and draw away to score a famous success.
Bookmakers reacted by slashing Burke’s new stable star to a 20/1 Derby Bet (from 100/1), a race he will almost certainly contest as having a runner in the great event has been the life’s dream of owner Hubert Strecker.
With the bubbles of the market principals well and truly burst, the most significant aspect of the Dante is it demonstrating the clear superiority over virtually all the opposition of the 2000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach who is now a general evens favourite to follow up and bag his second classic of the campaign.
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