The Foxes on target for Betfred Derby after Dante win

Andrew Balding seeks a first win in the Epsom Derby with The Foxes.

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ANDREW Balding believes The Foxes is a legitimate contender for the Betfred Derby at Epsom on June 3 after winning the Dante Stakes at York yesterday.

The Foxes raced towards the rear of the 11-runner field under Oisin Murphy before improving his position two furlongs out to take the lead at the furlong marker. He kept on well to finish a neck ahead of White Birch – who made a great run from the back of the field – with a length and a half back to third-placed Continuous and the luckless Passenger, who did not get a clear run, and dead-heated for third place in the extended 10 furlong contest.

Balding has twice saddled the runner-up in the Derby, most recently with 150-1 shot Hoo Ya Mai – who finished two and a quarter-lengths behind last year’s winner Desert Crown – and Khalifa Sat, second to Serpentine in 2020.

“He did a bit of meandering across the track. He’s a very good horse, it looked a deep Dante today,” Balding said.

“He’s very professional, he was the most beautiful yearling and he’s been a star to train so far.

“You’d have to think Epsom is the next step as long as you take the usual caveats into account, it comes close enough for example, but if he comes out of it well I think we’d have to give it a go.

“The way he’s hit the line there he’d give himself every chance of getting the trip, it didn’t look like he was stopping at the end there to me.

“I think the main thing is he’d give himself every chance of staying because of his demeanour.

“We’ve gone close in the Derby a few times, but I think he’d be the best chance we’ve had going there as both Hoo Ya Mal and Khalifa Sat were big prices.

“His half-brother Bangkok went there after winning this well fancied, but he ran poorly. We always thought he’d stay, but he was a real 10-furlong horse.

“I think he’ll stay as his dam got a mile and a half well.”

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