Fewer things give Yorkshireman William Haggas more pleasure than saddling a winner at York and let’s hope he is punching the air in triumph after Victory Bond unveils his untapped potential in the Group 2 Betfred Dante Stakes on Thursday.

The Medicean colt is one of the least experienced contenders in the 12-runner field but Haggas doesn’t like to overface his horses and Victory Bond certainly looked a little special when treating his rivals with disdain when scoring by seven lengths from the 80-rated Under Attack over a mile and a quarter at Ripon last month.

That’s hardly form to win a Dante but he was heavily eased down in the closing stages and it is his debut effort over a mile at Newbury last October that makes him look overpriced at odds of around 16-1.

Despite needing the run, Victory Bond found only Algometer only three-quarters of a length too good and that rival had the benefit of a run. The formbook tells us that Algometer has since finished a highly creditable length-and-a-half behind Midterm in the Bet365 Classic Trail at Sandown last month where the third was eight lengths adrift and the Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt is a fraction of Victory Bond’s price at around 5-4.

Unlike previously years there appear no movers and shakers amongst the Aidan O’Brien team and Wings Of Desire, who won a worse-looking race than Victory Bond at Wolverhampton, is as low as 5-1.

Victory Bond clearly has to find around 10lb or more improvement to figure here but the front running tactics adopted a Ripon could well pay dividends on a track that suits and, with improvement almost certainly to come, can’t go unbacked at his current odds.

As stated in a previous column, Midterm has the best breeding on show and could well be one of those Sir Michael Stoute gems that does little at home but finds whatever on the racecourse, but he took time to get really motoring at Sandown and this faster course may not play fully to his strengths.

Haggas saddled Storm The Stars to finish third to Golden Horn in the Derby 12 months ago who went onto run a string of fine races and landed the Great Voltigeur at York last August. At this stage Victory Bond could well have more potential than that colt and if that proves correct then who know what might happen in the coming months.

A 1pt each-way stake looks the order of the day in a race that may not have that much strength in depth.

Roger Varian has done well with his influx of horses sent to him by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid and may have reason for further celebration with Lady of Dubai in the Group 2 Betfred Middleton Stakes.

Varian has targeted this race for her reappearance for some time and she showed she can come to hand early when beating Encore L’Amour three-and-a-quarter-lengths over ten furlongs in the Listed Height Of Fashion Stakes at Goodwood last May.

Lady Of Dubai didn’t quite appear to fully last out a mile-and-a-half when third to Qualify in the Investec Oaks at Epsom the following month but she could well improve further with another winter on her back and this looks a good starting point. A 1pt win is recommended.
Victory Bond - 1pt e/w @ 16/1
Lady Of Dubai - 1pt @ 5/1