Ancient Wisdom can enhance Derby prospects with Dante win at York

Charlie Appleby’s colt won four from five during an impressive juvenile campaign

Ancient Wisdom
Ancient Wisdom can enhance his trainer's Derby hand with victory in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York on Thursday (Nigel French/PA)

CHARLIE Appleby had a disappointing 2023 by his own high standards but with one Classic already in the bag this term, Ancient Wisdom can enhance his trainer’s Derby hand with victory in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.

Fresh from Notable Speech’s 2000 Guineas win at the start of the month, Appleby takes the wraps off another Epsom contender on the Knavesmire, with his Moulton Paddocks yard already boasting one of the ante-post favourites in Arabian Crown.

Ancient Wisdom is also prominent in the betting after a fine juvenile campaign that saw him win four of his five starts, with his only defeat coming when third to the top-class Rosallion, where the reopposing Al Musmak was second.

That proved a minor blip for the son of Dubawi who roared back to form after a break, running out a cosy winner of the Autumn Stakes, with impressive Lingfield Derby Trial scorer Ambiente Friendly back in third, before ploughing through the Doncaster mud to win the Futurity Trophy.

Ancient Wisdom moves up to 10 furlongs here, but the distance should be no problem judged on both pedigree and performances, while rain will only help his cause.

Free Wind can secure back-to-back victories in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies’ Stakes.

Now a six-year-old, this daughter of Galileo has four Group-race wins in the bank and a fine record of running well first time up, winning on her seasonal bow in each of the last three years.

While she has won at up to a mile and six furlongs, Free Wind had enough speed to triumph over this 10 furlongs 12 months ago, although her campaign was a bit up and down after that, with her best performance coming when only just beaten in the Yorkshire Oaks.

With a clutch of younger rivals taking her on, Free Wind would be vulnerable to an up-and-coming filly, but her form so far just gives her the edge.

Big Evs makes his return in the British Stallion Studs EBF Westow Stakes and it would be a huge surprise if last year’s Breeders’ Cup hero was beaten.

Admittedly his only disappointing effort of the last campaign came over this five furlongs, but he just came unstuck against seasoned sprint stars in the Nunthorpe that day and is much better judged on his juvenile-only exploits.

Mick Appleby’s charge showed all ground comes alike to him last year, so the slightly unsettled forecast is not too much of a worry while even under his 5lb penalty, Big Evs is still best at the weights.

Dutch Decoy is the pick in the Oakmere Homes Hambleton Handicap after notching two second places already this term, while Al Mootamarid can reverse recent form with Per Contra in the Collective Green Energy Handicap.

Beaten a length and a quarter when getting 2lb at Wolverhampton, the regally-bred Al Mootamarid has an extra 4lb pull this time.