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Special Features

Dante Stakes – Our Runner-By-Runner Guide to York’s Thursday Feature

Royal Patronage wins the Acomb Stakes at York.

The Dante Stakes is the feature race at York on Thursday and the recognised Derby trail is the feature race of York’s three-day Dante Festival. We have analysed this year’s Dante field, providing a runner-by-runner preview and big race verdict. Check this out below, alongside a new customer sign-up at Betfred, who are offering a Bet £10 – Get £60 In Free Bets Bonus.


Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes (1m2f, York, Thursday, May 12th 2022)


1. BLUEGRASS (Aidan O’Brien, Ryan Moore) 8/1

Well-bred Galileo colt who is the first foal out of Group 1 winning sprinter Quiet Reflection. Justified favouritism to land a Curragh maiden last August before fourth-place finishes in Group 3s the last twice; latest form franked by the second (Buckaroo) since. Powerful yard somewhat surprisingly hasn’t landed this race since 2010, but they’ve been moping up Derby trails in Britain recently and that makes Bluegrass difficult to dismiss.

2. DARK MOON RISING (Kevin Ryan, Kevin Stott) 50/1

Connections are no strangers to winners at this Festival and since a debut seventh at this track, this colt has produced encouraging form figures of 12314; including a nursery third here. Chelmsford conditions winner on reappearance earlier this year, but he was held upped to Listed level at Newcastle subsequently and this represents a fairly significant step up on that. Bred to stay middle distances; dam 1m4f French winner, but others look more realistic contenders.

3. DESERT CROWN (Sir Michael Stoute, Richard Kingscote) 9/4

Nathaniel colt whose hefty 280,000 guineas price tag as a yearling looked potentially justified when he bolted up in a Nottingham maiden on debut back in November (Space Blues and Mishriff both recent winners of that race). That victory came on soft ground but there appears to be no obvious reason why he will not handle this quicker surface and he should stay at least 1m2f. Exciting prospect but this is a significant jump in class and it’s a slight concern that the horses to have run in his Nottingham maiden are a combined 0-18 since.

4. EL BODEGON (James Ferguson, Daniel Muscutt) 9/2

Progressive RPRs in five starts as a juvenile, culminating in a 111 figure recorded when landing the Group 1 Criterium at Saint-Cloud back in October. That form has been franked since (Stone Age second, Buckaroo third) and it would suggest that he’s the horse to beat here. Newmarket-based yard has made a decent start to the season so don’t expect this colt to come into the race too undercooked, but it is a concern that he’d been campaigned mostly on a slow surface in his career up to now and there’s not much rain forecast in the build-up to Thursday.

5. KINGMAX (David Loughnane, Rossa Ryan) 33/1

£120,000 yearling who’s the third foal out of a French 1m4f Group 2 winner in Baino Hope. Finished runner-up in a pair of maidens for Roger Varian last year but he was off the mark on debut for David Loughnane when landing a Kempton novice in March and he bettered that showing in defeat when fourth in the Craven next time out; Star Of India one place behind. Worth persevering with at pattern level on the back of that showing, and pedigree certainly offers hope for him staying this far. Improvement is required but he wouldn’t be a forlorn hope.

6. MAGISTERIAL (John & Thady Gosden, Frankie Dettori) 11/4

Top pedigree being closely related to Group 1 winner Lillie Langtry (herself the dam of multiple Group 1 winner Minding). Respectable fourth in a Newmarket maiden last September, and he has gone on to win both starts since, building on a 4/9F Haydock novice victory when landing a Leicester novice on his first start at 3. Did appear to get the run of the race on the last day, however, and it was a little concerning to see the third fail to frank the form when an odds-on failure at Windsor on Monday.

7. MASEKELA (Andrew Balding, Jason Watson) 11/1

Got to within a short head of Native Trail on his third start at 2 before going on to land a Listed contest at Newbury. Bounced back from a slightly disappointing Royal Lodge fourth when runner-up (albeit a fairly distant one) to Eydon in the Feilden back at Newmarket last month. That winner went on to finish fourth in the 2000 Guineas, so the form looks good, and he shapes as though this distance will be in range stamina wise. More experience than most but obvious claims on his best form.

8. ROYAL PATRONAGE (Charlie & Mark Johnston, Jason Hart) 14/1

Very progressive juvenile who looked a future staying type when running down Coroebus in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket last September; Masekela fourth. That form obviously reads very well now and although eighth in both subsequent starts it looks best to put a line through his Doncaster run (struck into) and he actually travelled strongly into last month’s 2000 Guineas before being outpaced late on. Bred to stay middle distances and is a course winner, so if he comes on for that reappearance he looks set to go well here.

9. WHITE WOLF (Saeed bin Suroor, Daniel Tudhope) 25/1

Godolphin colt who is the sixth foal out of Group 3 winner Long Lashes. Backed into 9/4F for a Southwell novice on racecourse debut last month and he justified that support to win going away. Entitled to have learned plenty from that initial experience, but it is worth noting that the 82-rated runner-up was attempting to concede a stone and was ultimately only beaten a half-length. Should stay 1m2f but he’s unproven on turf and can be only advised as a watching brief.


Dante Stakes Verdict

Desert Crown has been a real plunge horse in the Derby market recently and perhaps that explains his price here, but there are simply too many unknowns for him to be put up as an advised bet. El Bodegon probably brings the strongest form into this courtesy of his Criterium win over Stone Age, but this better surface is a significant concern, and at the prices, ROYAL PATRONAGE gets the vote. Winner of the Acomb here last year, Charlie & Mark Johnston’s colt claimed the scalp of subsequent 2000 Guineas winner Coroebus in the Royal Lodge subsequently when showing strong staying traits. He ran better than the bare form at Newmarket last time and if that run manages to bring him on it would be absolutely no shock to see him bang there at the business end in what looks at this stage like an open renewal of the Dante.


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