This Thursday sees the action on the Knavesmire kick up a gear as the Dante meeting moves into its second day. The headline contest is of course the race which gives its name to the whole meeting, the key Derby Trial of the Dante Stakes itself. Always a pointer towards future Group race success, the 2018 edition looks as intriguing as ever.

With contests ranging from the five furlong opener for the speedballs, to the stamina sapping two miles and half a furlong of the finale, there’s something for everyone on Day Two. Here’s where our cash is going in each of the days events.

2.20 – Betfred “Supports Jack Berry House” Handicap (Class 2), 5f

Line Of Reason each way at 14/1 with Ladbrokes

There are 19 runners going to post in our opener, but a look at the recent draw statistics for the race allows us to trim that number down considerably. Eight of the past 10 winners have emerged from stall five or below.

Paul Midgley has a decent recent record in this race, having sent out a winner, a third placed finisher and two fourths in the past four years. Older horses have also fared pretty well, with nine of the past 10 winners being aged six or older. Those two facts combined make Midgley’s eight year old, Line Of Reason, look interesting here.

A previous course and distance winner rated as high as 111 in his pomp, he has a solid 25% strike rate on good to firm and is down to a mark of just 92 here. Recent efforts can be excused on account of missing the break and heavy ground and it would be the biggest surprise to see him bounce back at a big price.

2.55 – Betfred Middleton Stakes (Group 2), 1m2½f

Mori to win at 3/1 with Bet365

The one to beat on ratings here is the John Gosden runner, Coronet. Winner of the Ribblesdale last season, second in the Yorkshire Oaks and third in the British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes, she is seven pounds clear on official ratings and deserves her place at the head of the market.

There was however only a neck to separate Coronet and the re-opposing Mori in that Ribblesdale contest, with the Sir Michael Stoute filly only running out of steam close home over that one mile, four furlong trip. Back in distance, having had a wind op, and with a handler whose horses invariably improve significantly from three to four, we fancy this daughter of Frankel to turn the tables.

3.30 – Betfred Dante Stakes (Group 2), 1m2½f

Wells Farhh Go each way at 15/2 with Bet365

Next up the big one. The race won by subsequent Derby heroes such as Benny The Dip, North Light, Motivator, Authorized and Golden Horn over the years. Will there be anything to follow in those hoofprints in this year’s line-up?

John Gosden has taken this twice in the past three years and sends out both the first and second favourite in the market in the form of Roaring Lion and Crossed Baton. Fifth in the 2000 Guineas last time out, Roaring Lion boasts the best form in the race, but this step up in trip poses a question. Crossed Baton on the other hand has already won twice at around this distance, but only by a head in a Listed contest last time, and so needs to prove he is up to this class.

Wells Farhh Go is second best in this field on ratings and yet only fourth in the betting. That’s probably down to the fact that he hails from the yard of Tim Easterby and not the likes of a Gosden or a Stoute. He is nevertheless unbeaten in two career starts to date, with both runs coming at this track. The second of those wins, when mowing down 2000 Guineas seventh, James Garfield, looks particularly solid. By Farhh and out of a Galileo mare, he’s bred to be even better over this sort of trip and is fancied to at least make the frame.

4.05 – Betfred TV Hambleton Handicap (Class 2), 1m

Baraweez to win at 5/1 with Coral

William Haggas’s Original Choice heads the betting here, and makes plenty of appeal on his win at Wetherby last time out. He has however been beaten by a total of 21¼ lengths in just two starts on good to firm, which is enough to put us off at a short price.

Afaak looks an interesting each way option, with his second to subsequent Lincoln winner Addeybb last season looking an excellent effort. He showed absolutely nothing last time out at Newbury though and is – a little reluctantly – given the swerve.

This is a quick turnaround for the Brian Ellison runner, Baraweez, who won at Chester only last week. However, the eight year old has gone well off a short break in the past, and is officially three pounds well in on the ratings. Rated 100 as recently as March last year, he looks feasibly treated off 90 here. In form, and getting in towards the foot of the weights, with the quick ground on which he goes so well set to be in place, he looks a solid option.

4.35 – British Stallion Studs EBF Westow Stakes (Listed Race), 5f

Hey Jonesy to win 

Another strong bias towards the low numbers in our next handicap, with nine of the past 10 winners being drawn in stall five or below.

Kevin Ryan’s Hey Jonesy is the top-rated runner in this line up, but having run well without winning in Group company last term, he avoids the penalties and looks to be well treated at the weights. Seven furlongs was never likely to be in his favour on his comeback in the Free Handicap at Newmarket, but that effort will have served to blow away the cobwebs.

The drop to the minimum trip for the first time ought to suit a horse who had the pace to lead the likes of US Navy Flag and Cardsharp for a long way in the Middle Park Stakes last season. We expect him to get on the lead and be tough to peg back from stall four.

5.05 – Stratford Place Stud Breeds Group Winners ebfstalluions.com Maiden Stakes (Class 2), 6f

Burning Lake to win 

Maiden action up next, with nine of the ten runners on show making their racecourse debut. Getting towards the rail seems to be an advantage for the inexperienced runners in this, with the majority of the recent winners again being drawn low.

Money doesn’t always talk, but it can be a good guide when it comes to juvenile contests such as this. As such the one to catch our eye from a low draw is the Charles Hills runner, Burning Lake. By smart sire, Le Havre, and out of a dam that has already given us a Listed class winner in Baby Foot, he will do for us here.

5.35 – Investec Wealth Handicap (Class 3), 2m½f

Arrowtown to win

A marathon handicap contest to close out the day’s action, with a number of interesting contenders in the line-up. Richard Hughes’ recent recruit from the Aidan O’Brien yard, Claudio Monteverdi, was deemed good enough to contest the Irish Derby in 2016, and whilst he wasn’t up to that standard, he does look a bit of a plodder and may yet boast potential as a stayer. Under top weight, and having been last of 11 on stable debut, we would however need to see more before backing him.

One who does look solid to go well is the Michael Easterby runner, Arrowtown. On his last start over this course and distance back in October, he looked a seriously unlucky loser. Cantering in behind a wall of horses on the far rail, there was nothing he could do as October Storm kicked for home down the centre of the track. Once the gap did appear, Arrowtown fairly rocketed home to go down by just an agonising short head. Only three pounds higher here, he looks well worth a punt.