Highest Ground looks ready to peak again for Stoute in the Dante Stakes
Sir Michael Stoute’s famously patient approach to training should pay a handsome dividend at York where Highest Ground, an unbeaten Frankel colt owned and bred by the Niarchos family, can win the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes today.
Traditionally a stepping stone to the Derby, it is no less interesting coming five days after an extraordinary Classic at Epsom and, if the word on Newmarket High Street is anything to go by, Highest Ground might well be a colt capable of putting it up to Serpentine at a later stage of the season.
The winner of a Leicester maiden last year, he reappeared at Haydock a fortnight ago, where he beat the race-fit Waldkonig 2½ lengths in a novice over today’s trip, prompting Ryan Moore, sparing with his praise, to believe that this was a proper colt in the making.
Quite apart from the timing, Stoute has been in this game far too long to sacrifice a potentially smart but green and inexperienced colt on the Derby altar on only his third start and, having watched Saturday’s race when Serpentine got loose, he can only have thought his decision was vindicated.
“Michael has liked him from a long way back,” said the Niarchos family’s racing manager, Alan Cooper. “He’s very low-key and likes to let the horses do the talking. He was an immature yearling who has progressed mentally and physically and Michael is hopeful he has a nice future. He’s won his maiden, his novice and today he steps up to the big plate. It’s an ascending path but whether he gets to the top of it is a different matter.”
Today’s Dante is nevertheless a good test for Highest Ground. Aidan O’Brien sends over Cormorant, the Derrinstown Trial winner, beating subsequent Ascot winner Russian Emperor.
At Newmarket a big weekend for the evolving racing nation of Bahrain starts with its sponsorship of a couple of races, while the Bahrainiowned Golden Horde is hot favourite for Saturday’s July Cup.
Lord Campari is clearly one reason Andrea Atzeni is staying in Newmarket rather than going to York to ride Juan Elcano, and he can win the Bahrain Sir Henry Cecil Stakes, while Royal Ascot winner Tactical can step up to six furlongs successfully in the Tattersalls July Stakes.
Great pedigree: Highest Ground, a son of Frankel, defends his unbeaten record