In May of each year, the flat horse racing world converges on the famous York racecourse for the Dante Festival meeting. With three days of action on the Knavesmire, including prestigious races such as the Dante Stakes, the Yorkshire Cup, and the Musidora Stakes, some of the best flat horses in history have lined up at York in the past.
The Big Races
The Dante Stakes
The feature race of the three days after which the meeting is called, the Dante Stakes has become a pivotal race in the flat racing season. Considered to be a trial race for the Epsom Derby later in the season and a pointer for those who prefer ante-post horse racing betting online, there have been many successful Dante winners that have gone on to win some of the biggest races in the world.
Just twelve months ago, Desert Crown was an easy winner of the Dante on just his second start, before going on to win the Derby with consummate ease the following month. One other notable horse to have won the Dante/Derby double is Golden Horn, who became the tenth to achieve the feat in 2015 and then went on to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
It is not just winners of the Dante that have gone on to enjoy big race success elsewhere, with Jack Hobbs having finished second at York before winning the Irish Derby, a race also won by 2021 Dante winner, Hurricane Lane. 2014 Dante winner, The Grey Gatsby, went on to win the French Derby later that year.
If the Dante Stakes serves as a trial race for the Epsom Derby, then the Musidora Stakes can be regarded as a similar warm-up for the Oaks. Run over 1 mile 2 furlongs, the race pits some of the best three-year-old fillies in the game against each other, as they attempt to book their place in the Epsom Classic the following month.
The Group 3 contest has provided a total of seven future Oaks winners in the past, most recently the brilliant, Snowfall, who was a 3 and 3/4 length winner of the Dante in 2021, before demolishing the field in the Oaks by a breathtaking 16 lengths. She also returned to York later in the season to add the Yorkshire Oaks to her CV.
Others to do the Musidora/Oaks double include, Noblesse and Sariska, whilst 2015 winner, Star Of Seville, went on to win the French Oaks later in the year.
The Yorkshire Cup
Despite not being quite as important as the other two races on the flat racing calendar, the Yorkshire Cup is arguably the biggest race of the Dante meeting when it comes to the Yorkshire crowd. A Group 2 contest run over a distance of 1 mile 6 furlongs, the race is one of the first big staying races of the year and has been won by some very talented horses in the past.
The Yorkshire Cup is now part of the British Champions Series, and so, has been attracting a better calibre of horse year after year. The most famous of these is arguably legendary stayer, Stradivarius, who has won three of the past four renewals, as well as registering four Goodwood Cups, three Ascot Gold Cups, and three Lonsdale Cups amongst others.
Great 3 days at York topped off with the champion Stradivarius pic.twitter.com/ofEV48K1Zt
— Frankie Dettori (@FrankieDettori) May 17, 2019
The Dante Festival Meeting is one of the highlights of the year in flat racing. For all Yorkshire natives, it is a reason to be proud and celebrate being a huge part of the racing world. With top-class racing action, glorious sunshine, and the comradery of the crowd, the Dante Meeting is a feast of racing fun not to be missed.