This was Buick’s third Dante win – his 2013 winner Libertarian was then third at Epsom for Leyburn’s Karl and Elaine Burke before Golden Horn, victorious at York two years later, triumphed in the Derby under Frankie Dettori.
The great Golden Horn, a subsequent Arc hero, remains the last of 10 champion colts to complete the Dante-Derby double since its inception in 1958.
But Buick, a champion jockey contender, appeared particularly taken by the Charlie Appleby-trained Hurricane Lane, named after a cyclone that swept through Hawaii in 2018, who is now unbeaten from three starts for Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation.
And the manner of the York win, coming from behind to overhaul the long-time leader Roman Emperor in the final furlong, suggests the extra quarter of a mile in the Cazoo Derby will bring about further improvement.
At the finish line in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes, Hurricane Lane had three quarters of a length in hand over John and Thady Gosden’s Megallan (in the Golden Horn colours) who is bound for the French Derby next.
Back in third was Aidan O’Brien’s long-time ante-post Derby favourite High Definition who was given a lot to do by Ryan Moore and was doing his best work at the end of this 10-furlong contest run under threatening black clouds.
It remains to be seen whether he has the maturity to handle Epsom’s undulations – or the form to beat stablemate Bolshoi Ballet who remains the clear favourite for the Derby after an imposing comeback win at Leopardstown last week.
Back in fifth on the Knavesmire was Gear Up for Middleham trainer Mark Johnston who was left to rue a slow start by Ben Curtis’s mount who was then unable to assert himself and set the pace.
Yet Johnston maintains Gear Up will be more effective over longer distances – there’s every likelihood that he, too, will reappear at Epsom before a tilt at the St Leger in September at Doncaster.
However this should take nothing away from Hurricane Lane, a beautiful chestnut colt, who caught the eye in the tree-lined paddock and was cheered by youngsters walking across the Knavesmire on their way home from school.
A son of the great champion Frankel, out of the dam Gale Force, the aforementioned Buick says the colt has more stamina than the raw speed of Godolphin’s Masar who he rode to Derby glory in 2018. “We all know the Dante is always a good trial and this year’s looked to have plenty of quality in it,” enthused the winning rider.
“I think what this horse has in his locker is that he will improve for a mile and a half, he will stay. Everything he does, he does it right, he went through the gears nicely and when he got company he battled back – he did that at Newbury, too.
“He’s gone from strength to strength, he’s improved with every run and has taken every run well, he’s got a real good mind. I can’t see much more you could ask of him. Obviously he’ll have to step up again, but at least he’s got the experience now and he’ll get a mile and a half.”
Buick added: “It was a solid-run trial, a true-run race, unlike some of the trials it was an end-to-end gallop. He travels well and is well balanced, obviously he hasn’t been to Epsom but I’m not too worried about Epsom.
“Masar was a top juvenile, won the Craven and was placed in the Guineas, we knew he’d get 10 furlongs – we weren’t sure about 12, but he got it very well. You never know about that race until the day.”
This was eched by winning trainer Charlie Appleby who appears to be the best trainer to stop the Derby dominance of the aforementioned O’Brien who is seeking a third successive win in the Classic and ninth in total.
“Hurricane Lane has got a great temperament for a big horse and is a good mover. He’s jumped and travelled well and stayed well, so he ticks a lot of the boxes for the Derby,” said Appleby.
“I was a bit worried Hollie Doyle’s horse Roman Emperor had got away from them, but once I saw he was stopping, I was confident our horse would keep galloping.
“He’s proven he’s got stamina in abundance and the step up in trip at Epsom should suit him. I’ve been on the phone to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and he was pleased, so as long as the horse comes out of it fit and well, that (Epsom) is the obvious place to go.”
With a fair wind, of course.
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