Economics adds up for Dante delight but Derby picture left murkier than ever

<span>Economics, ridden by Tom Marquand, wins the Dante Stakes at York.</span><span>Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA</span>
Economics, ridden by Tom Marquand, wins the Dante Stakes at York.Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

The Dante Stakes, the last recognised Derby trial before the Classic on 1 June, had the emphatic winner that everyone had turned up hoping to see on Thursday, but with one significant caveat that left the ante-post market murkier than ever.

Economics, a strapping chestnut trained by William Haggas, cruised up to the leaders and then accelerated six lengths clear of Ancient Wisdom, one of last season’s best juveniles, a performance that one bookie suggested would be more than enough to make him the clear Derby favourite – had he not been taken out of the race at the second entry stage last month.

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There is, of course, a supplementary stage six days before the Classic when it would be possible to get Economics back into the Derby field, and the £75,000 fee would presumably be only a minor irritant for the colt’s owner, Sheikh Isa Salman al Khalifa, who banked £110,000 from Economics’ win here on Thursday.

But the mood music from Maureen Haggas, the trainer’s wife and assistant, was surprisingly downbeat given the authority of Thursday’s victory.

Economics was bleeding from his nostrils as he pulled up, but Haggas was confident that it was “not an issue” of concern. His size, inexperience and stamina – he is a son of the 2,000 Guineas winner Night Of Thunder – were all mentioned as potential reasons why he might be steered around Epsom, however, and while Coral chalked him up as the 10-1 favourite for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October, City Of Troy, who beat only two opponents home when favourite for the 2,000 Guineas earlier this month, remains the firm’s 5-2 Derby favourite.

Haggas is renowned for allowing horses to develop at their own pace and his patience has been richly rewarded many times in the past. At the same time, though, six-length Dante winners do not come around too often and while it has spawned many imitations, next month’s race is called “the” Derby for a reason.

“We took him out because we didn’t think he’d stay and I’m still not sure he would,” Maureen Haggas said. “He’s beautiful, but still a baby. I think the more he races, the more switched on he’ll become, and 10 furlongs will be his best trip. I thought he looked a bit all over the place in the final furlong, he’s a big horse and this is just his third race. You’ve got to be switched on to go around there, it’s a big ask for any horse and he’s an inexperienced, big baby.”

Two of the last 10 Dante winners – Desert Crown and Golden Horn – have followed up in the Derby, but several more have instead proved themselves at Group One level later in the season in races including the Irish Derby, Irish Champion Stakes and Eclipse.

“The Derby is the one we all want to win,” Haggas said. “We’ve been lucky enough to win it once [with Shaamit in 1996] but it was that long ago, I’ve almost forgotten what it was like. We’d love to win it again, but we have a very nice horse and there are a lot of other nice races to win, and we need to make sure he stays a nice horse and that has to be the priority.”

Ancient Wisdom, meanwhile, could yet join his stable-companion Arabian Crown, the current second-favourite for the Derby, in the field at Epsom.

Last year's Grand National hero Corach Rambler has been retired, trainer Lucinda Russell has announced. The 10-year-old struck gold at Aintree in 2023 to give Russell and jockey Derek Foxtheir second National after One For Arthur in 2017.

He was fancied to run a big race once more in this year's renewal after finishing third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but parted company with his rider at the first fence. He went to Punchestown after that, but was pulled up.

Russell said: "After a lot of thought and discussion we have decided that our brilliant 2023 Grand National winner Corach Rambler is going to be retired. In some ways the decision is laced with sadness. Corach has been a horse of a lifetime for his seven-strong syndicate of owners who won the greatest steeplechase in the world.

"He also has had a special relationship with our jockey Derek Foxand has brought so much joy to all our staff here at Arlary. But the decision is also a joyous one. Corach Rambler will always be a special horse for us, we owe him so much. More than anything we want him to go out at the top, in excellent physical condition and able to hopefully enjoy a long and happy retirement.

"Corach has had a massive influence on the fantastic run of success we are enjoying and influx of new horses and owners to our stable. His story has resonated with both racing fans and those people who take a casual interest in the sport.

"The fact he only cost £17,000 and mixed with and beat equine millionaires gave hope to any owner and trainer that they can compete no matter what their budget." PA Media

“I think it depends how much he progresses from it, really,” Charlie Appleby, who trains both colts for the Godolphin operation, said. “A mile-and-a-half is definitely going to be his trip. I think at the moment Will [Buick] would have a job getting off Arabian Crown, but if this horse comes out and does a decent piece of work, it might be a different ballgame.”

Mullins up for the Cup with Vauban

Having just become the first Irish-based trainer to win the UK jumps championship since 1954, Willie Mullins turns his attention to the Flat on Friday when Vauban (3.45), the beaten favourite in last season’s Melbourne Cup, lines up for the Group Two Yorkshire Cup on the final afternoon of the Dante meeting at York.

Vauban made his name over jumps, completing a Grade One treble as a four-year-old that included the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but also showed very useful form after switching codes last year on the Flat last year.

A wide-margin success as the even-money favourite for the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot was followed by a Group Three win at York, and while his stamina seemed stretched by the two-mile trip at Flemington in November, Friday’s mile-and-three-quarters on the Knavesmire looks ideal.

York 2.15 Karl Burke has won the last two runnings of this Listed event for juvenile fillies and Kaadi, off the mark in a decent time at Windsor last month, could be the pick of his three runners.

Newbury 2.30 Having racked up four wins last summer, Gallant Lion looked set for another productive season when finishing a close third on his debut for Alan King at Newbury last month and he remains on a workable mark.


2.00 Darvel

2.30 Gallant Lion

3.00 Diligently

3.30 Jarraaf

4.00 Clockmaker

4.35 Trouville

5.10 Niloufar

5.40 Waxing Gibbous



2.15 Kaadi

2.45 Qaasid

3.15 Blue Thunder

3.45 Vauban (nap)

4.15 Under Siege

4.45 Tropez Power

5.20 Jubilee Walk (nb)



2.23 Dakota Power

2.53 T’Challa

3.23 Skukuza

3.53 Gold Medallist

4.25 Iron Lion

4.55 Giorgio M



5.30 Sixcor

6.05 Up The Clarets

6.40 Catherine Chroi

7.15 Capital Theory

7.50 Kristal Klear

8.25 Persian Phoenix

9.00 Ski Angel



5.45 Roaring Legend

6.20 Raffle Ticket

6.55 Petit Tonnerre

7.30 Kinondo Kwetu

8.05 Space Voyage

8.40 Prophesea

York 2.45 Qaasid’s win at Newbury last month was a match for anything in his career to date and Julie Camacho’s gelding looks overpriced at around 16-1.

York 3.15 Devoted Queen was left in the 1,000 Guineas until the five-day stage and could prove to be a cut above this field, but her bare form to date does not merit such a short price and Bright Thunder, a five-length winner on debut, could be a value alternative at the likely odds.

York 4.15 Under Siege ran a fine race on debut behind Economics – Thursday’s Dante winner – last month and has an obvious chance to get off the mark.