TOO DARN Hot is ready for his eagerly anticipated seasonal return this Thursday when he’ll contest the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.
Last year’s champion juvenile will face seven rivals in the £165,000 Group 2 race, regarded by many to be the leading Investec Derby trial.
The unbeaten son of Dubawi, owned by Lord Lloyd Webber, has raced up to a mile before, but his fifth career engagement will see him tackling an extended mile and a quarter.
Trainer John Gosden said: “In the case of Too Darn Hot we had to change the programme.
“A few days before the Greenham he came up with a splint issue and he had two weeks of walking.
“So, the Dante became the obvious place to go. And although we are happy with the horse it has been a very tight schedule to get him to this race.
“I’ve no doubt in my mind he will improve for it. Certainly, another ten days to prepare him would have been suitable, but we have no more time to play with now.
“Obviously we see the Dante as the best trial and it looks a very good field – and from the race we will know whether to point towards the Derby or the St James’s Palace.”
Gosden has won three of the last four renewals of the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante and he will also saddle Turgenev alongside stable-mate, Too Darn Hot. Turgenev was third at Epsom in the Blue Riband Trial last month.
Gosden added: “He has improved in himself and he’s there on his own merit, but he is a horse who likes to go at an even pace. He’s a lengthener, not a quickener.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a crawl, looking at the field.”
Amongst a host of notable runners in the line-up is the Aidan O-Brien trained, Japan, who won the Group 2 Beresford Stakes on his last start – in September. Ballydoyle has swept all before them in this year’s recognised Derby trials but O’Brien has not won the Dante since Cape Blanco triumphed in 2010.
Surfman (Roger Varian) and Line Of Duty (Charlie Appleby) are two further interesting big-race contenders from powerhouse stables.
The Group 2 contest on Thursday’s card for fillies and mares is the Al Basti Equiworld Middleton Stakes. Again, the spotlight in this £125,000 contest, will fall on a Gosden contender as Lah Ti Dar makes her seasonal bow.
A year older than her full brother Too Darn Hot, she has previous course experience having won the Sir Henry Cecil EBF Galtres Stakes last August, before finishing second in the St Leger.
Gosden said: “We’ve been pleased with Lah Ti Dar. This has been planned for some time.
“So, you might say this has been Plan A – with her brother it has not been Plan A!
“She’s happy in herself. It is a good starting point for any filly and we’re looking forward to running her.
“The Middleton is a lovely race, placed well in the calendar.”
The Dante Festival runs from Wednesday, May 15 – Friday 17 May inclusive.