THE knockers have been out in force since LIBERTARIAN caused a 33/1 surprise in the Dante on Thursday. This is a race that is normally carved up by the big Newmarket stables. But not this time. Libertarian was the first northern-trained winner of the Group 2 race for a very long time. He was also a deserved winner. It was no fluke and he is now the best hope of an English-trained winner at Epsom (unless Telescope takes his place in the field).
Trained in beautiful Leyburn in North Yorkshire by Karl and Elaine Burke, Libertarian was very impressive on his Pontefract debut, and his time for the final two furlongs was eye-catchingly strong. There were valid excuses for his below-par run in the Sandown classic trial and the Burkes were keen to get more racecourse experience into him in the Dante.
The way he picked up and then picked off good horses such as Ghurair, Indian Chief and Trading Leather was impressive. And, as with Liber Nauticus the previous day, there was the rich promise of much more to come. The extra two furlongs at Epsom should really suit this son of Derby winner New Approach and if you go through the latest Epsom Derby betting there are very few horses who you can safely say will get the trip. This includes the hot favourite Dawn Approach.
Although Jim Bolger, the trainer of Dawn Approach, may have been happy that nothing spectacular has emerged in any of the English Derby trials, Libertarian deserves a bit more respect than he’s getting. Could he be the first northern-trained winner of the Epsom Derby since Dante in 1945?
He is generally available at 20/1 and could be worth a sporting each-way bet on June 1.