13-2 DELIGHT AS DAQMAN HITS PERFECT DOUBLE WHAMMY: Daqman last night opposed odds-on shot Perfect Delight (lay, 2nd 4-6) at Kempton Park, and named the winner of the race, Dedication (win bet, WON 13-2): they were separated by a nose. Perfect Delight was his second successful lay of the day following Fly Fisher (unplaced 5-1) during the afternoon at Beverley.

IS THE DERBY WINNER AT YORK TOMORROW? York’s fabulous three-day Spring festival opens today with the fillies’ Classic trial, the Musidora Stakes, but the hub of the meeting is the Dante tomorrow, a heat which has produced three Derby winners in the last eight years and in which Daqman has an Epsom outsider.

Rain is the key to today’s big sprint. Hoof It needs the ground to continue drying out – any more rain could scupper his chances – if he is to hold off the challenge of the Abernant and Palace House winner, Mayson.

1.30 York: Four-year-olds are five in a row in this; so are Newmarket stables and all three horses saddled by Saeed Bin Suroor since 2007 have won.

Single-figure stalls have grabbed 12 of the 16 places in the frame in the last four years, yet three of the winners have come from 8, 12 and 17.

In other words, the ability to weave through a big field, or come down the wide outside, is just as good as a rails pozzy.

Trying to beat the percentages today will be Frankie Dettori’s task on the Godolphin runner, Flag Officer, from 16, while another trainer who likes to win this, Sir Michael Stoute, has Labarinto in the one stall.

Labarinto was on many a horses-to-follow list, or featured as a ‘dark horse’ special, for the start of the season but, though he has won on the soft, he made no show in the Newbury Spring Cup.

He did his winning in July last year and September the year before, so may be the Freemason Lodge Cambridgeshire horse. Luca Cumani’s Kirthill is also likely to need the run.

Against Flag Officer is that he’s never won on turf: he did run second to Stoute’s subsequent St Leger third, Sea Moon, over today’s CD last June, but the horses behind have collectively scored only one win since, and that in a lower grade.

Suits Me will probably get the rail early but I can see Area Fifty One extricating himself from the pack to join battle. The Easterbys do well on their home track and Mirrored will enjoy the fast pace. Gatewood could be anything.

But the in-form horse, second in the race last year, is Right Step, with the jockey Jim Crowley in terrific form with six winners in nine days: 10.0 on BETDAQ. Each way.

2.00 York: Six of the last seven winners had finished first or second in a big field and first or second in a class-2. High numbers in the draw are not much help: during the last six years, 15 of the 18 to finish in the first three came from stalls 3 to 13.

Those that fit the stats are Waffle, Kaldoun Kingdom, Victoire De Lyphar, Valery Borzov, Baby Strange and Shropshire.

Shropshire (7.8 on BETDAQ) ran much the best of some of these when they met at Newmarket recently and, like Right Step in the opener, is the horse in form, which counts for a lot at this time of year.

You can fancy Instance, whose trainer can score with them first time, and Coolminx, with Paul Hanagan back in the saddle for Richard Fahey, but stalls 19 and 20 are off-putting, and they are easy to back this morning. Fahey seems to be talking up Kaldoun Kingdom.

York Glory has a big chance at 7.8 but may not have beaten Barnet Fair on this course in August had his rival got a clear run. Barnet Fair is often trapped in the pack and may make his own trouble but, at 15.5, with Silvestre De Sousa now given the reins, he’s the best outsider of the race.

2.30 York (Musidora Stakes): Although this race has few runners these days, with five (twice), six (twice) and eight (twice) in the last six years, it has retained its credibility via Lush Lashes (won both Coronation Stakes and Yorkshire Oaks), Passage Of Time (Vermeille and Breeders Cup thirds), Short Skirt (Oaks third) and Sariska.

Sariska (2009) was the only Oaks winner among them; in fact, she did the double at Epsom and the Curragh.

Those star-name winners had had four runs at most, and fillies who make up half this field – Esentepe, Good Morning Star and Salford Art – look pretty well exposed, while Nell Gwyn winner Esentepe has drifted like a lonely dog on a raft this morning, out to 13.5 as I write.

You would expect to see big strides from Aniseed, The Fugue and Twirl, with Twirl already rated on 103, some 3lb in front of Esentepe, after running the mare Chrysanthemum close in the Park Stakes at the Curragh.

However, The Fugue has lines to the Irish form, in that she split Maybe and La Collina behind Homecoming Queen in the Newmarket 1,000 Guineas, to suggest that she should have a rating similar to Twirl’s.

You could argue for 102 because the filly immediately behind her at Newmarket was racing off 101 but the pair seem so close, in line with offers of 2.36 Twirl and 2.62 The Fugue. Watching brief.

3.00 York (Duke Of York Stakes): Three-year-olds are strongly represented today but haven’t scored since the Nineties: Owington (1994) and Sampower Star (1999).

Six winners in the last decade had won at Group level. Six came from the very narrow ratings parameter of 110-112; all falling between 105 and 114.

Outside the range today are, from eon extreme, Tiddliwinks (official rating 100), to the highest level, Society Rock (117, target Royal Ascot) and Hoof It (118), twice a winner at York last season but beaten in both career starts with give in the ground.

Hoof It is also disadvantaged by stall 11; low numbers have won the last three runnings on the soft. Lay him if it rains again.

The 110-112 ratings parameter gives us only Elnawin, Libranno and Mayson, all three Group winners, all three scorers on an easy surface, a seemingly formidable stats trio against Hoof It.

But Richard Hannon tells us that Elnawin will need the race after injury and Richard Hughes rides Libranno, who looks far too big at 16.5 for one capable of forcing tactics and with winning form at 7f.

Palace House winner Mayson, the horse in form, is one of my 10 to follow. I keep asking him to do more, and he keeps running up against the unwilling or the unready, so he could go close again.

Bath: Mick Channon, 25 winners this year, is having a tremendous run (currently 6-17), and it will be dear to his heart for Strong Conviction (7.10 Bath) to win. He is son of one of Mick’s great sprinter, Piccolo, and half-brother to the yard’s three-time two-year-old winner, Rileyskeepingfaith. Nap.

BET 3pts win GATEWOOD, 2.2pts win and place RIGHT STEP and 1.6pts win (stakes saver) FLAG OFFICER (1.30 York)
WIN-30 JACKPOT: 4.4pts win on each SHROPSHIRE and 2pts win and place BARNET FAIR (2.00 York)
BET 5.5pts win MAYSON and 1.2pts win and place LIBRANNO (3.00 York)
BET 5.8pts win (nap) STRONG CONVICTION (7.10 Bath)
HORSES TO FOLLOW: Mayson (3.00 York)

* Daqman’s selections are backed to win 20 points (unless otherwise stated) so, if you divide 20 by his stake, you know the Betdaq offer taken at the time of writing.

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