The Dante Stakes has long been hailed as one of the most portentous Derby trials in the calendar, with the last nine victors earning two wins and three places in the Classic. Given the race’s fine record as an Epsom barometer, it could well be that Elaine and Karl Burke’s Libertarian is a shade overpriced in the Derby betting at 20/1.
Libertarian’s Dante victory was a highly promising stayer’s performance, with the non-more stamina-taxing finishing straight at York proving meat and drink for the son of New Approach. The Burkes’ colt had been one of the first to be given the gun under William Buick, as market principals Ghurair and Windhoek cruised along in front, but as those rivals melted away, Libertarian stayed on best of all to take the contest from Jim Bolger’s Trading Leather.
Whilst some may point to a Dante 33/1 winner as reason to question the worth of the form, it cannot be denied that he beat five rivals rated in excess of 102.
Perhaps part of the reason – besides being from a less than fashionable yard – for the market’s ambivalence to Libertarian before the Dante was his performance when fourth in the Sandown Classic Trial on his previous outing, which was as green as the turf on which he (falteringly) travelled.
Carried very wide on the turn for home, he was very nearly tailed off before staying on to nick fourth close to the line and there were still signs of inexperience at York with jockey Buick having to roust him along at the rear of affairs early doors.
With some runners ahead of him in the betting yet to race, let alone win in a race as competitive as the Dante, the 20/1 about Libertarian is a much more reasonable price than some on offer.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Telescope must become the first colt since 1996 to win the Derby without a prep-run if he’s to land odds of 6/1, whilst the form of 8/1 Ruler Of The World’s Chester Vase victory – six-length second Mister Impatience was a seven-and-half-length fourth in listed company next time – has hardly been given a glowing endorsement since.
Even hot-favourite Dawn Approach has doubts over his ability to see out the 1m4f trip to contend with, giving the 20/1 about sure-staying Libertarian – whose dam was a winner over 2m – some appeal.