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DANTE FESTIVAL: EXCITING ENTRIES FOR THE FEATURE CONTESTS

The first Pattern race of the York season, the Group 2 Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes could again be an early indicator of the Champion Sprinter for the year ahead. Thirty- three speedsters have been entered for the £100,000 contest on the opening day of the Dante Festival, Wednesday 12th May. The winner of the July Cup, Oxted, may represent Lambourn for Roger Teal, facing near neighbour, Starman, who won in Listed company for Ed Walker over course and distance, last September. Amongst the local challengers could be Moss Gill who gave the North Yorkshire stable of Edward Bethell a podium finish in the Coolmore Nunthorpe of 2020. More familiar faces in the starting stalls of big sprints will come up from Newmarket, with the likes of Dream of Dreams, the Haydock Sprint Cup holder from the yard of Sir Michael Stoute being amongst the possible runners.

Day two of the festival will see a colt hoping to become the eleventh horse to do the York- Epsom double, following a win in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante with success in the Cazoo Derby on the Downs. Amongst the seventy-one entrants for the Group 2 prize are many of the leading fancies for the Classic, High Definition heads the list of twenty-three contenders from the powerful Ballydoyle stable of Aidan O’Brien. The last horse to achieve that famous double was Golden Horn in the colours of the Oppenheimer family, trained by John Gosden, the same connections have entered Megallan for the York leg. The Middleham stable of Mark Johnston was responsible for the winner of the delayed 2020 race, Kingsley House have nominated Gear Up, the winner of the Group 3 Tattersalls Acomb on the Knavesmire last August to fly the flag.

Thursday 13th May also sees the feature race of the week for the older fillies and mares in the shape of the Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Stakes. With twenty names still in the frame, many eyes will have been caught by the James Fanshawe trained heroine of Breeders Cup night, Audarya. A run against a fellow Group One star such as Wonderful Tonight who scored on British Champions Day carrying the colours of music impresario, Chris Wright, would be mouth-watering. The winner of the Tattersalls Musidora of the previous season is often seen in this contest as it runs over the same ten furlong trip, Rose of Kildare may continue that trend for Mark Johnston’s operation.

The fourth Group 2 prize of the week is the highlight of Friday 14th May, the Matchbook Yorkshire Cup. Many of the best stayers, most recently Stradivarius, include this famous trophy on their list of honours and this champion holds an entry again this season. A memorable British Champions Day last October was capped for Hollie Doyle when winning the Group 1 Stayers contest aboard Trueshan, will the pairing pick up where they left off? Another with proven success at the highest level is the 2019 victor of the St Leger, Logician. Also a winner at York, for the romantic it would be a delight to see the Juddmonte colours of the late Prince Khalid Abdullah in the Winner’s Enclosure. A fascinating entry comes in the form of Twilight Payment, already successful in Group company in his native Ireland, the horse then travelled 8,000 miles to take the Lexus Melbourne Cup for Joseph O’Brien last November.

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