Thursday’s Dante Stakes looks like being another cracker, with a field of nine going to post for the Al Basti Equiworld-sponsored contest.
There’s over £99,000 up for grabs for the winner but the bigger picture is, of course, that this is a notable trial for the Blue Riband Classic itself next month, the Cazoo Derby.
Recent winners of the race include three in four seasons between 2015-2018 for John Gosden, the brilliant Golden Horn setting the ball rolling, Wings Of Desire causing something of an upset a year later and then, having had no runner in the race in 2017, the superb Roaring Lion landing the prize in 2018.
Strangely enough, favourites do not have a great recent record in the race, with just Roaring Lion obliging in the past decade. Having said that, there have only been two double-figure priced winners in that period.
So, informed by the above, and with respect to the favourite El Bodegon, I’m going for an improved effort by the John and Thaady Gosden-trained Magisterial to enable him to win the contest.
Beaten on debut at Newmarket last September, he was found a novice event at Haydock next time in order to get off the mark. That came of soft ground, so he clearly won’t mind the going at York, which was slightly on the easy side of good.
Having been put away for the winter, the son of Frankel came out and beat the odds-on favourite Ruling Dynasty as he liked at Leicester (1m2f, good to firm) last month, fuelling optimism that he could be yet another Gosden-trained winner of the Dante.
He’s 25/1 for the Cazoo Derby, a race we’ll be covering for you on BestofBets.com, and it may be prudent to avail yourselves of those odds before the off today, because a win on the Knavesmire will see those odds slashed.
Granted, with an official BHA rating of just 99, he has to improve to win this race but the Gosdens take this race more seriously than some of the top yards and, given they have just the one runner this year (they often have two), there is probably some confidence that he can run a big race.
Add to that the yard’s successful opening day of the Dante Festival, with a double that included impressive Musidora winner Emily Upjohn, and there are several reasons to believe that shortly after 3.35 this afternoon, Magisterial will be carrying the wonderful Frankie Dettori to another big race win.
In opposition, the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud winner El Bodegon clearly merits much respect, while the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Desert Crown, who was extremely impressive in scoring at Nottingham on debut, could prove a major threat to the selection.
Mark Johnston (now Charlie and Mark Johnston) saddled both 2017 winner Permian and 2020 scorer Thunderous, so the Middleham representative Royal Patronage would no be the biggest shock winner that this race has ever seen, while Aidan O’Brien has Bluegrass in the line-up, although he needs significant improvement from a recent Group 3 defeat if he is to prove good enough.
It’s a fascinating Group 2 contest once again but I’m happy to side with Magisterial to give the Gosdens another Dante success.