Ante-post: Benbatl to win the Dante (8/1) and Derby (33/1)

The first round of English and French Classics are wrapped up with the usual suspects, Aidan O’Brien and French champion trainer Jean-Claude Rouget, landing the majority of spoils.

We had one of the winners today with a brilliant performance from Brametot in the French 2000 Guineas, and he and the third home, William Haggas’s Rivet, look set to contest next month’s French Derby rather than the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh.

The Rivet form looks strong enough to tempt me into backing the horse that nearly beat him into second behind Eminent in the Craven Stakes, Saeed bin Suroor’s BENBATL, in the English Derby and it’s principle trial, the Dante Stakes at York.

Bin Suroor won the Derby trial at Lingfield on Saturday with Best Solution, who is half the price of Benbatl’s 33/1 quote for the big one at Epsom.

After winning he couldn’t help but put in a good word for the Craven third.

“We also have Benbatl, who runs in the Dante (at York on Thursday). He worked well today and I like him. He is a mile-and-a-half horse, but he needs some cut in the ground. He is doing really well, that horse.”

By Dubawi, who sired the recently-retired Postponed as well as French Derby winner New Bay and many other leading middle-distance horses, and out of a multiple-Group One-middle-distance-winning mare Nahrain, Benbatl is bred for success at ten and twelve furlongs.

With the Craven only his second career start he’s still a newbie, while he’s been keen in both races and should have loads of improvement in him if he learns to switch off in his races.

Given the Dante is headed by a narrow trial winner who is perhaps as short as he is because he races in the Golden Horn colours, and the second-favourite has done nothing more than win – albeit emphatically – a Nottingham maiden, I can’t help but think Benbatl is a big price at 8/1 for Thursday’s big race.

The Dante can attract a big field so there’s not much value taking each-way prices with better terms likely on the day, so I’m getting in early and backing him on the nose.

If he were to win, bookies would guillotine his 33/1 price for the Derby so I’m taking that as well, particularly with a few question marks over the favourites.

2000 Guineas winner Churchill currently trades favourite but he’s bred for sprinting trips from the dam side and, possibly, looks more likely to go down the mile route of the Irish Guineas and St. James’ Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

With or without him his trainer Aidan O’Brien will have a formidable hand in the race, but at 33/1 Benbatl looks overpriced and worth siding with early – very early.

1pt win Benbatl @8/1, Dante Stakes, York, Thursday 18th May (Coral and WillHill)
1pt win Benbatl @33/1, The Derby, Epsom Downs, Saturday 3rd June (various)

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