Dante Stakes PreviewThe Betfred sponsored Dante Stakes will take place on Thursday 17th May at York, over a distance of 1 mile, 2 furlongs and 88 yards. The race serves as a trial for the Derby later in the flat racing season, and this year’s Dante favourite is Andrew Balding’s Bonfire. But will the jolly oblige, or can we get him beaten? Read on to find out…

Race History

The Dante Stakes is named after the popular Yorkshire trained racehorse Dante, who was the last horse trained in the North to win the Derby. A winner of eight of his nine races (the sole defeat coming in the 2,000 Guineas where he finished second by a neck), Dante’s career was cut short due to a disease which left him blind.

The race that now carries his name is a reliable trial for the Derby; the Dante winner has gone on to success at Epsom three times in the last nine years, with a further three running into a place. Furthermore, other horses like Workforce have won the Derby after running well in – but not actually winning – the Dante Stakes.

But who will win the 2012 renewal of the Dante? Let’s take a look at some race trends in a bid to reduce the field from its current size of 12 runners.

Key Trends


  • All of the past 11 winners of the Dante Stakes were sired by a Group 1 winning horse, with a stamina index of at least 8.5
  • All of the last 11 Dante winners were born before April 30th, suggesting that we should be looking for a more mature selection


  • All of the last 11 winners had raced between two and five times in their career, prior to lining up in the Dante
  • All 11 had won at least once in their career
  • 9 of the 11 Dante winners had won over 8f (or further)
  • All of the last 11 winners made their debut over 7f or 8f

By applying all of the above trends to the 2012 Dante line up, we can thin out the field significantly, but another trend allows us to reduce the number to just two – last time out form. 9 of the last 11 Dante winners had won the race prior to their York success, suggesting that current form is very important, and by adding this particular trend to the mix we are left with just Mandaean and Noble Mission.


Mahmood Al Zarooni’s Mandaean is an interesting Dante contender and of the two, I marginally prefer him. Already proven over the Dante trip and seemibly capable of acting on a variety of different going conditions, the Godolphin colt is unbeaten from his two runs in France, including the Group One Criterium De Saint-Cloud, which suggests that he has a touch of class about him.

Noble Mission is a full brother to the brilliant Frankel and Sir Henry Cecil believes he might well be a Derby horse. The trainer commented after his win in the Newmarket Stakes, that, “He’ll need another race before we decide where we go. I think he needs a race to bring him to the boil before we think he might be a Derby horse.”

To me, these comments suggest that the Dante isn’t really the target for Noble Mission, whereas Al Zarooni recently said after a racecourse gallop that, “Mandaean needed the gallop and will be aimed at the Dante at York. If he proves good enough there, then the plan is to go for the Derby.”

With these comments in mind, I’ll be snaffling up the best price of 4.50 about Mandaean offered by Stan James.


The Betfred Dante Stakes
Thursday 17th May 2012, 14:30

Mandaean @ 4.50 (Stan James)