Dante Festival 2015: Unbeaten Lightening Moon can brighten first day of meeting

'He's in great order. We're very happy with how he's done,' says trainer Ed Walker

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The Independent Online

Godolphin’s recent purchase Lightning Moon stakes his claim for sprinting honours when he defends an unbeaten record in the Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes, the keynote race on day one of the Dante Festival at York.

The four-year-old, who has remained with trainer Ed Walker, has only had three starts and will be having his first race since outpointing seasoned campaigners to land the Group Three Benbough Stakes at Ascot in October.

Walker reports Lightning Moon to be primed for a return to action, though he expects the Shamardal colt to be better for the outing at the Knavesmire. “He’s in great order. We’re very happy with how he’s done from three to four,” he said.

“What he achieved last year, especially in the Benbough, was pretty exceptional for a three-year-old against older horses and we very much hope he can step up again as a four-year-old.

“He’s had seven months off the track whereas a lot of his opponents have had a run this season, which would be a little bit of a concern. I think he’s going to improve for the run, but he’s ready to get back on the course.”

Muthmir showed last season he is a smart sprinter on good ground, winning a handicap over the course and distance in tremendous style and then the Portland Handicap at Doncaster.

Paul Hanagan, retained jockey for owner Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum, is hoping the weather stays dry for the William Haggas-trained five-year-old in the Duke of York. “He’s well, I’ve ridden him at home a couple of times and he’s done well over the winter, I’m just praying the rain keeps away,” Hanagan said.

“I’m really looking forward to him, I think he’s really good, as he showed when he won the Portland that day.”