THE Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes is the feature race at York on Thursday 12 May when one colt will upgrade his Derby credentials with victory.
But 35 minutes after the richest ever staging of the famous Group 2, now worth £175,000 the aptly-named Project Dante is scheduled to return in the Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Westow Stakes.
The three-year-old made a winning debut for owners Bond Thoroughbred Limited and trainer Bryan Smart at the 2021 Dante Festival.
A month later, he was beaten by only a neck in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Connections are now planning a return to the Royal meeting with Project Dante entered in the King’s Stand and Commonwealth Cup – both of which are Group 1 contests.
But before that the son of Showcasing – whose last run was at Ayr almost eight months ago – is set to make his seasonal bow in search of a share of the record £65,000 for this Listed contest for sprinters in their classic season.
Hambleton House handler Smart said: “The horse is in good form – I’m very happy with him.
“He lost his way a bit last year. He’s as fit as I can get him without a run and it would be nice to start at York as we did last year.
“He’s a nice horse with ability, so we should be fine. I’d like a drop of rain.”
York was much loved by late owner-breeder – and Yorkshireman – Reg Bond, whose familiar black and yellow colours are carried by Project Dante.
The horse recorded his debut success in the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes. He scored by a head for an emotional triumph which came less than two months after Mr Bond passed away.. Reflecting on the win, Smart added: “It was great. It was a fantastic day – that’s what we wanted.”
Meanwhile, the latest entry stage of the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes saw 14 horses remain in the race.
Group-1 winning El Bodegon could represent the upwardly mobile stable of James Ferguson, Aidan O’Brien has left in four candidates, Godolphin have two possibilities. The best chance of following in the footsteps of Dante himself rests with the Tattersalls Acomb winner of 2021, Royal Patronage, being handled by Charlie and Mark Johnston from the same Yorkshire town of Middleham, where the 1945 Derby winner himself was trained.
The Dante Festival at York Racecourse runs from Wednesday 11 May to Friday 13 May 13 inclusive. For tickets please visit www.yorkracecourse.co.uk