Syphax hoping to cement place in York’s Dante

Syphax ridden by Jamie Spencer (left) beats Best of Days ridden by William Buick (right) to win the Tattersalls Acomb Stakes at last year's Ebor Festival.
Syphax ridden by Jamie Spencer (left) beats Best of Days ridden by William Buick (right) to win the Tattersalls Acomb Stakes at last year's Ebor Festival.

Syphax attempts to book his ticket for the Betfred Dante Stakes at York on May 18 when he reappears at Newcastle this afternoon.

Trained in Hambleton by Kevin Ryan, the son of Arch made a successful debut at Musselburgh last July before heading to the Knavesmire for the Ebor Festival a month later.

He was sent off at 16-1 for the Acomb Stakes, but showed battling qualities which belied his inexperience to just get the better of Best Of Days, who went on to frank the form by landing the Royal Lodge.

That performance prompted Sheikh Mohammed to snap him up and Syphax will carry the royal blue colours of Godolphin for the first time in the inaugural running of the 32Red Burradon Conditions Stakes.

“He’d have penalties in most of the other races so when this came up I mentioned it to John Ferguson (of Godolphin), who thought it was a great idea,” Ryan said.

“We’ll use it as a prep race and if all goes well, we’ll be heading to the Dante with him.

“I just hope we get a good pace, they seem to go steady at Newcastle for some reason, but it’s a good surface and a stiff track, a nice place to start him off.

“In the Acomb you’d have thought it was his first start again, he was very green, but Jamie (Spencer) was great on him and was very patient.

“I thought it was a great performance to win so well, there’ll be a lot of improvement in him.

“He’s not slow, but there’s a chance in his pedigree he’ll stay and we’ll find out in the Dante.”

Challenging Syphax for favouritism is the Andrew Balding-trained South Seas, who won the Solario Stakes at Sandown last year before finishing sixth in the Dewhurst behind Churchill and second to Thunder Snow in France.

He was beaten further by Saeed bin Suroor’s Thunder Snow than Guineas favourite Churchill, though, and that form was franked by the winner in Dubai.

“He won three last year and proved he was a high-class horse,” said Balding. “He went and won the Solario, a Group Three, and he signed off by being second to a very good horse in a Group One.

“There is obviously a question mark about him racing on the all-weather for the first time, but I’ve seen no reason why he won’t act on it. You’ve no idea until you try, despite what is in the pedigree.”

It is also All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield, and Sovereign Debt bids to go one better than he did last year in the Sunbets All-Weather Mile Championships Conditions Stakes.

The grey has been an excellent campaigner on the all-weather and turf, and has joined North Yorkshire handler Ruth Carr following the retirement of David Nicholls. His first outing for new connections came over 10 furlongs – his first run at that trip – but he was not disgraced, finishing fast to take third behind Absolute Blast in the Magnolia Stakes at Kempton.

Carr said: “He’s come out of Kempton well, he’s got a decent draw in stall six and we’ve kept him fresh since then, we haven’t done much with him. He was a bit unlucky to be second in this last year so hopefully he goes one better.”

John Gosden’s Musidora winner So Mi Dar, who was forced to miss the Oaks through a setback last summer, is on course to return at the Dante meeting.

The Dubawi filly returned from the sidelines for a back-end campaign and after scoring at Yarmouth, was beaten just half a length into third behind Speedy Boarding in the Prix de l’Opera at Chantilly.

“So Mi Dar is fine and the plan with her is to go to the Middleton,” said Gosden, who was at Chelmsford overseeing a few workers, including Derby contender Cracksman, before racing on Thursday.

“Royal Artillery and Western Hymn we are looking towards the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown. It was good to bring them here to see the racecourse again and they both worked nicely.”

Dubai Sheema Classic winner Jack Hobbs will not run again before Royal Ascot.

The Hardwicke Stakes and the Prince of Wales’s Stakes over 10 furlongs are his options at the showpiece meeting in June, with Gosden saying: “He will go on anything except firm ground. He travelled out there (Dubai) well and has come back well.

“We will point him towards Royal Ascot as most of the big middle-distance races are not until June.”