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The run of Classic trials continues at Lingfield on May 13 with the Letheby and Christopher Derby Trial and the Oaks Trials respectively for the real things at Epsom the following month. It isn’t just the Classic colts and fillies that are in the firing-line at Lingfield because the Surrey course also stages the totesport Victoria Cup, a closely fought and always influential 7f handicap that frequently throws up a Royal Ascot winner or two.

Over in France the following day, May 14, the European Flat season raises the volume with the Poule de’Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas) and the Poulai d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas) on the same card at Longchamp. Ballydoyle and Godolphin have begun to target these two important races in recent seasons and their runners should be respected, but Criquette Head-Maarek’s Quiet Royale will be fancied for the ‘Pouliches’ after a satisfactory spin in second at Longchmap the other day. Flat racing’s domestic caravan rolls on to York for their three-day Dante meeting and the potential Oaks fillies will run in the Musidora Stakes on May 17, the meeting’s opening salvo which is now a Wednesday on account of the fixture moving forward by a single day. On May 18 the Derby hopefuls will run in the Dante Stakes and it’s worth recalling that in recent times, North Light and Motivator, the last two winners of this race, have gone on to glory at Epsom in just over three weeks’ time, while looking a little further back in the race’s illustrious history, it’s worth noting that Shahrastani, Reference point, Erhaab and Benny The Dip all went on from the Dante to Derby success. This mile and a quarter Group 2 contest has clearly become a key Classic trial in recent seasons and mustn’t be missed. There’s sure to be a host of top-class performers in contention on the Knavesmire and Sir Michael Stoute has the best contemporary Dante record with two winners and three placed horses.

On the same day as the Dante keep a close eye upon the outcome of the Hambleton Stakes, a valuable mile handicap that has a habit of throwing up the winner of the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot the following month especially if the Hambleton winner is trained by Sir Michael Stoute.

The final day of the Dante meeting sees the stayers take centre stage in the Yorkshire Cup, a useful pointer to the rest of the campaign’s leading staying races. Alan Swinbank’s stable star Collier Hill, a winner of the Irish St Leger last season, is a likely runner and may well be capable of surprising more fancied horses.

On May 20 it’s the turn of the season’s crack milers to unleash their firepower in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and this has been a good race for Saeed Bin Suroor and the boys in blue in recent seasons, and it would be no surprise to see them land this Group1 event with Proclamation, who is surely heading for the top after joining Godolphin on the back of a brilliant three-year-old season. In France the following day Longchamp’s Prix d’Ispahan always draws the top mile and mile and a quarter horses and this a race that mustn’t be missed as a key pointer to some of the season’s top races over this classic ten furlongs.

The month of May rounds off with the Irish 2,000 Guineas on May 27 followed by the Irish 1,000 Guineas on the following day. Both these valuable races tend to go to horses that have raced in the equivalent events at Newmarket and inevitably British trainers hold an excellent record in both races.

Finally, Sandown’s two-day fixture at the very end of the month is always informative with the Henry 11 Stakes for top-notch staying horses on May 29 followed on May 30 by the Temple Stakes for sprinters over the minimum trip and the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes in which trainer Sir Michael Stoute boats a useful record. Any runner from his yard should be noted carefully.

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