This afternoon’s Group 3 Betway John Of Gaunt Stakes (4.00) at Haydock may well provide the talented Dutch Connections with a first success since Godowood’s Select Stakes last season at a similar level.
Since then the Charles Hills-trained six-year-old has kept lofty company, finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile in Canada last September prior to going lame and having to be pulled up when contesting the Group 2 Challenge Stakes at Newmarket a month later. Already this season the son of Dutch Art has shown that he’s back in the swing of things with a very good fourth place behind the high-class Rhododendron in the Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last month, and connections are hopeful today’s drop back to seven furlongs will be a perfect fit for the five-time winner.
“He ran a blinder at Newbury and it’s been the plan to aim for this race since,” admitted Hills. “I think coming back to seven furlongs will definitely suit him and he does want fast ground, so I hope they don’t get any more rain. It won’t be easy, that’s for sure, but he has some good form and hopefully he has a decent chance.”
Dutch Connection is 3/1 second-favourite with Bet365 , behind 11/4 shot Emmaus, with Tabarrak at 10/3 and Dbai 7/2, indicating just how open this event could be. Emmaus, trained by Roger Varian, is still relatively unexposed having won three of his four career starts, including last time out in listed company at Leicester where he proved too strong in heavy ground for Donjaun Triumphant. He has yet to race on a surface faster than good.
Tabarrak won the listed Spring Trophy over course and distance last month and prefers a decent surface, so his trainer, Richard Hannon, will be hoping it stays dry in the north-west. Dbai, hailing from the Derby-winning yard of Charlie Appleby, made a good start to the term when runner-up to the smart The Tin Man in listed company at Windsor 10 days ago and is rated only 1lb behind Dutch Connection at 112.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.