July Stakes: Project Dante has trainer Bryan Smart dreaming ahead of Newmarket Group Two test on Thursday

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Trainer Bryan Smart is confident Project Dante will adapt to conditions in the July Stakes at Newmarket on Thursday after finishing third at Royal Ascot

Leading July Stakes hope Project Dante already has his trainer Bryan Smart dreaming of further glory after finishing an unlucky third at Royal Ascot.

Smart's exciting two-year-old, a son of Showcasing, won on debut at York in May and met trouble in-running in the Norfolk Stakes at the Royal meeting last month, before a strong finish.

He lines up in another Group Two on Thursday as he takes on ten rivals at Newmarket.

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"When you go to Royal Ascot with a fighting chance you've got to be delighted," Smart told Sky Sports Racing.

"We were delighted with the horse it was just one of those things that happens in racing but the horse proved his worth.

"He did a nice piece of work on Friday and he's had a nice little blow this morning. Graham Lee rode him and was delighted, saying he feels as good as ever, if not better than he did before Royal Ascot.

"He's a horse that will improve for age as well so we're quite excited."

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Smart is happy to take a chance on the extra distance of the July Stakes - stepping up from five to six furlongs.

If Project Dante handles the trip, he is then likely to head for the Gimcrack Stakes at York next month and the Middle Park Stakes back at Newmarket in September.

"If you don't run them, you don't know," Smart said. "I think he'll get [the trip] because he settles and you can put him in most places.

Bryan Smart
Image: Bryan Smart says Project Dante can be versatile in terms of race tactics at Newmarket

"Graham will just work away and it'll be in his hands. If they go flat out, we'll just take our time. If they go steady, we know we've got the speed as well.

"Thursday will tell us if we stay at six [furlongs] or come back. We've got him in the Nunthorpe [Stakes] off no weight at all and if we have to drop back to five that's not a problem.

"If he went and won this you'd obviously be thinking of the Middle Park Stakes. [Project] Dante is just an exceptionally good moving horse.

"If he did settle and you could get further then we could really dream."

'Bond was rather naughty this morning'

Bond Chairman also put in a hugely promising display to be placed at Royal Ascot, finishing fourth in the Windsor Castle Stakes.

The "naughty" son of Kodiac, who holds an entry in the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at York next month, is likely to go for the Listed Rose Bowl Stakes at Newbury on July 16.

"He did his first little piece this morning and was very fresh, a bit strong early, but he looks grand," Smart said.

"He'll probably go to Newbury for the Listed race there, the Rose Bowl.

"He looks really well. In fact, he was rather naughty this morning, he was a bit too fresh."

Sir Titus, right, wins at Redcar in May
Image: Sir Titus, right, wins at Redcar in May

Three-year-old Sir Titus heads to York later this month, having won all three of his starts in 2021 and rising to a mark of 82 after an impressive front-running victory at Haydock on Saturday.

"He'll probably go to York for the five-and-a-half furlong three-year-old race coming up.

"He's a lovely horse. Not many go and win three on the bounce like him. He's a big individual, very flashy looking.

"I thought Graham [Lee] was very brave and very classy how he rode it [at Haydock].

"He's going forward all the time. They've stuck him up three [pounds] for the win but he should carry the weight."

Redcar winner Instinction has some strong form in the book, including in Listed company at York in May, and looks another promising two-year-old from Smart's stable.

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Things did not go to plan when finishing down the field at Beverley last Friday, but the trainer is taking the blame for that one.

"I think the trainer had a rush of blood to the head trying to enter her over five furlongs on a stiff track at Beverley," Smart said.

"She just didn't get home going at her pace. I apologised to the owner, I got that one wrong.

"She's very quick and I think she's getting quicker."

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