BUNKER will test his credibility as a possible Epsom Derby contender in the Betfred Dante Stakes at York on May 15.
As he is owned in partnership by Al Shaqab Racing, the Hurricane Run colt is a major ride for Frankie Dettori, who helped him to beat subsequent Prix Jean Luc Lagardere winner Karakontie in a Listed race at Deauville last August.
The Richard Hannon stable decided to end Bunker’s season on a high at that point.
“He needed a break and the plan is to start in the Dante,” he said. “We’re not sure he’s a Derby horse, but he has won his Listed race, he’s very well and his form is rock-solid.
“He has a bit of an attitude – he can just turn it on sometimes – which is fine when you’ve won a Derby.”
There are 35 horses at the stable owned by Sheikh Joaan’s Al Shaqab operation, including two of Hannon’s stable stars.
QEII winner Olympic Glory, who was disappointing on his final start in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, remains in training along with Toronado who has been absent since weakening to last in the Juddmonte International at York last August.
“They’re both being trained for the Lockinge at Newbury,” Hannon said.
Buoyed by his first century of winners, Sam Twiston-Davies is being tipped to end the 2013-14 campaign in winning style aboard Same Difference in Saturday’s season-ending Bet365 Chase at Sandown.
Second last year to the Andrew Tinkler-ridden Quentin Collonges, the progressive chaser is now 10-1 favourite with William Hill whose spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke noted: “Same Difference is blatantly well-handicapped off a 7lb lower mark than when second in 2013.”
Saltburn jockey James Reveley’s good run of form continued at Kelso yesterday with an impressive double courtesy of Doubledisdoubledat and Mr Supreme.
Meanwhile, Whiskey Ridge’s Wetherby success was a 61st of the campaign for Sue Smith – and a 53rd, a new personal best, for the High Eldwick trainer’s stable jockey Ryan Mania.