Libertarian got the better of some well-touted rivals when striding home strongly to land the Dante Stakes at York by a length and a quarter from Trading Leather.
Trained in Middleham by Elaine Burke, the son of New Approach was supplemented for the Derby back in March before making his debut in a ten-furlong Pontefract maiden. Despite appearing to be a little outpaced in the early stages of the Dante, Libertarian worked his was steadily into contention under William Buick and launched his challenge on the Aidan O’Brien-trained favourite Indian Chief inside the final furlong.
The winner is now trading at around 20/1 for the Derby, while the manner of his grinding performance has also earned him quotes of 16/1 for the St Leger.
“He’s a proper horse, we’ve always thought a lot of him,” said Burke’s husband Karl. “He’s a big backward animal and has taken a lot of time and has done nothing but improve.”
Jim Bolger’s runner-up Trading Leather looks like to head for the Prix du Jockey-Club on May 2 with his stablemate Dawn Approach still all the rage for the Derby the day before. The only question mark over the unbeaten colt’s Epsom claims is the limited stamina on the female side of his pedigree – something which should not be an issue for his paternal half-brother Libertarian.
The Burkes’ rangey colt, who only reached his third birthday three days before the Dante, is out of Intrum Morshaan, a daughter of Darshaan who won over two miles at Haydock for John Dunlop. Libertarian’s half-brother Prince Siegfried is a Group 3 winner over ten furlongs despite being by the largely sprint-orientated Royal Applause, while another half-sibling Bigzam (Zamindar) was a Listed winner over a mile and five furlongs at Saint-Cloud.