Prestigious Dante Stakes to be run at York - but after Epsom’s Derby
It was assumed that the race, the most significant Epsom Derby trial, would not be run after May’s Dante festival was cancelled because of the Covid-19 lockdown.
But it was confirmed last night that the prestigious Group Two race on July 9 when racing is due to return to Knavesmire – albeit behind closed doors.
And while the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai-sponsored Dante will, ironically, take place days after the Derby is staged at Epsom on July 4, it is a measure of its prestige that it will still go ahead and feature in the record books.
The idea is that the 10-furlong contest will provide another opportunity for three-year-old colts to gain valuable ‘black type’ for breeding and bloodstock purposes.
The race will also be a tantalising proposition to highly-rated horses who might not be suited by Epsom’s unique undulations – still the ultimate test of a thoroughbred.
First run in 1958, it is named after Dante – the last Yorkshire horse to win the Derby. That success came 75 years ago when the Classic was staged at Newmarket instead of Epsom.
Ten winners from Lester Piggott’s mount St Paddy in 1960 to the John Gosden-trained Golden Horn in 2015 have completed the Dante-Derby double.
Meanwhile the last two renewals have been won by Roaring Lion and Telecaster for Oisin Murphy, the current champion jockey, who won last weekend’s Qipco 2000 Guineas on Kameko, the new favourite for the Derby.
The Musidora Stakes, a noted Oaks trial, will also take place on the same July 9 card – again a mark of its prestige.
York is also preparing to hold its John Smith’s Cup meeting on July 18 and 19 – a week later than usual.
It will have another doubleheader the following week on July 25 and 26, the traditional slot for the Sky Bet York Stakes.
They will be precursors to August’s flagship Ebor festival.
The Dante decision came as the British Horseracing Authority tweaked its race programme to best respond to the needs of trainers.
Meanwhile field sizes will increase from 12 to 14 next week – while heritage handicaps, like those due to be staged at Royal Ascot, will have maximum fields.
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