Favourite for the Investec Derby, Saxon Warrior, heads an 83-strong entry for the £165,000 Betfred Dante Stakes which will staged at York on Thursday 17 May.
His trainer, Aidan O’Brien. is a four time winner and has entered twenty colts in this prestigious Group 2, landed in the past by ten subsequent Investec Derby winners. Golden Horn was the last horse to complete the York-Epsom double, in 2015.
Ballydoyle inmate Saxon Warrior, victorious in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, is one of two Group 1 winners in the entry for the extended mile and a quarter race. The other is also trained over the Irish Sea, this time by Jim Bolger, Verbal Dexterity was the very impressive winner of the National Stakes by three and a half lengths last September.
In all, the top ten from the Derby betting feature in the entry for the Betfred Dante Stakes.
As well as those that made their mark as two-year-olds in 2017, the Betfred Dante entry holds some unexposed types. One such horse is the Harry Dunlop-trained, Knight To Behold, winner of a maiden at Newmarket on just his second start last October.
Owned by Neil Jones, Knight To Behold is a son of Sea The Stars from the family of St Leger winner, Millenary. He is bred for the part, with his sire having won the Juddmonte International over course and distance. His trainer is optimistic that he can step up to the mark this season. Lambourn-based Dunlop said: “Knight To Behold has wintered well. He went to Kempton for a racecourse gallop the other day and I was very pleased with him.
“The plan is to start at Newbury on April 20 in a mile and a quarter conditions race and if it goes well, the Dante is a race we shall consider.
“It is a long way off but we have always liked him. He ran two very good races at two, finishing second at Newbury (in the Haynes, Hanson and Clark Conditions race) before winning at Newmarket. He is bred for the trip so fingers crossed.”
Last year there was a Yorkshire winner of the race with the ill-fated Permian victorious for Middleham-based trainer Mark Johnston. This time, Johnston has entered three including the unbeaten colt Elarqam. A son of Frankel and Classic heroine Attraction, Elarqam won the Judith Marshall Memorial British EBF Novice Stakes over seven furlongs at York before taking the Group 3 Somerville Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket.
Another unbeaten Yorkshire challenger is Group 3 Tattersalls Acomb Stakes winner is Wells Farhh Go who represents trainer Tim Easterby’s Habton Grange stable.
The Betfred Dante Festival runs from Wednesday 16 May 16 to Friday 18 May inclusively.