York’s eight-time top trainer, Richard Fahey, is hoping to start the new season on the Knavesmire with a winning week at the Dante Festival.
His sizeable team will include Growl in tomorrow’s Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes, Forest Ranger in Betfred Dante Stakes and the marvellously named Brian The Snail in the listed British Stallion Studs EBF Westow – the latter two contesting their respective races on Thursday.
Five-year-old Growl, one of 13 in the richest ever renewal of the G2 Duke Of York, is making his seasonal bow and the recent rainfall won’t present a problem to him.
Forest Ranger faces a step up in grade and distance in the G2 Betfred Dante. He won a mile conditions race at Newcastle last month but this is an altogether tougher assignment with Cracksman, Rekindling and the unexposed Crystal Ocean among the 11 declared runners.
Brian The Snail, owned by Godolphin, will be hoping to add to his unbeaten career record in the five-furlong listed contest, in which eight are set to face the starter.
Fahey said: “The rain will have helped Growl. It will hinder others and help us. We’re very happy with him, but it’s a very warm race. I’m sure he’ll run well.
“It has been the plan all year for Forest Ranger to go to the Dante. But it’s a fantastic Dante this year if they all turn up – extremely competitive. We’ve got a small outside chance. I’m a fraction worried about the trip because he’s a horse with plenty of pace.
“The race at Newcastle we earmarked for him and, as far as I’m concerned, he came through with flying colours. We’ve been very comfortable with him. He’s a huge horse now and is going to improve with racing.
“Rain helped me to make the decision to declare Brian The Snail. I wouldn’t have wanted to run him over five furlongs on fast ground. The slower ground will help him. We like him a lot. It’s another stepping stone for him – the next level. But we’d be very happy with him. He won a handicap at Ponte last month, carrying a big weight and did it well.
“It’s a tough week for us if we don’t have any winners. It’s a great week if we do!”