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York Dante Festival: Dates, runners, history and more

A new season at York gets underway with the Dante Festival in mid-May as the scent of newly mown grass and freshly planted flowers adds to the sense of new beginnings on the famous Knavesmire.

Horse Racing

York Dante Festival date

The Dante Festival is traditionally held in mid-late May and takes place from Wednesday 15th May until Friday 17th May in 2024, with three days of fantastic Flat action in store.

York Dante Festival venue

The Dante Festival takes place at York Racecourse, one of Britain's best-loved tracks. York's Knavesmire track has existed since 1730 and it continues to thrive almost 300 years on. Left-handed, flat and wide, the track at York is viewed as being very fair to all competing horses.

The home straight is long and, therefore, jockeys face a sometimes agonising decision on when to commit their horse for home.

York Dante Festival how to watch

Every race from the meeting can be viewed via the bet365 live sports streaming service, while all three days of the Dante Festival from York will feature on ITV Racing for terrestrial viewers in Britain and every race will be covered on Racing TV.

York Dante Festival details

The Dante is the feature race on day two of the meeting taking place on Thursday 16th May. The Group 2 contest is a recognised trial for the Epsom Derby in June and is run over an extended mile-and-a-quarter journey at York, with a most recent prize fund of £175,000.

Run over the same course and distance as the Dante, the Musidora Stakes is the feature race on day one at York, Wednesday 15th May. The fillies-only Group 3 had a prize pool of £125,000 last time and is one of the key early-season trials for the Epsom Oaks in June.

The Group 2 Yorkshire Cup headlines day three of the Dante Festival on Friday 17th May.

The race is run over a trip just shy of one-mile-and-six-furlongs and it is now the first event in the long-distance division of the British Champions Series, with further races at Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood, York's Ebor Festival, and Doncaster's St Leger Festival and on British Champions Day at Ascot following through the season.

Alongside the features, there are plenty of quality races at York's Dante Festival.

Their leading two-year-old contest is the Listed Marygate Fillies' Stakes on Friday 17th May, a five-furlong dash across the York turf.

On day one, look out for the Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes, a three-year-old contest for sprinters over six-furlongs.

And on the middle afternoon, before the Dante, there is the Middleton Fillies' Stakes over the same course and distance, the contest being open to fillies aged four years and older.

York Dante Festival history

After the 2022 successes for Desert Crown in both races, 11 winners of the Dante have gone on and achieved victory in the Epsom Derby subsequently.

The first was St Paddy in 1960 for Lester Piggott and Noel Murless, and the most recent include Golden Horn in 2015 for William Buick and John Gosden (though Frankie Dettori was on board for the Epsom Classic afterwards as Buick was retained by Godolphin to ride Jack Hobbs) and the 2022 York/Epsom hero Desert Crown for Sir Michael Stoute and Richard Kingscote.

York Dante Festival most successful trainer

Sir Henry Cecil and Sir Michael Stoute share the record for Dante wins, with seven apiece.

Cecil sent out Approval (1970), Lyphard's Wish (1979), Hello Gorgeous (1980), Simply Great (1982), Claude Monet (1984), Reference Point (1987) and Tenby (1993) to win, while Stoute's winners so far are Shahrastani (1986), Alnasr Alwasheek (1992), Dilshaan (2001), North Light (2004), Tartan Bearer (2008), Carlton House (2011), Desert Crown (2022).

The late, great Cecil also holds the record in the Musidora with nine winners, courtesy of Fatah Flare (1985), Indian Skimmer (1987), Diminuendo (1988), Snow Bride (1989), All at Sea (1992), Magnificient Style (1996), Reams of Verse (1997), Passage of Time (2007) and Aviate (2010).

York Dante Festival most successful jockey

No jockey has won the Dante more than Pat Eddery, with six. The 11-time champion jockey won on Beldale Flutter (1981), Hot Touch (1983), Damister (1985), Red Glow (1988), Sanglamore (1990), and Tenby (1993).

In the Musidora, Frankie Dettori sets the benchmark with seven wins, the Italian scoring on Bahr (1998), Punctilious (2004), Star of Seville (2015), So Mi Dar (2016), Shutter Speed (2017), Emily Upjohn (2022) and Soul Sister (2023).

York Dante Festival famous winners

Sir Michael Stoute has famously suggested that: "If you win the Dante, you don't have to improve much to win the Derby" – and it's a point well proven, with his Desert Crown in 2022 the 11th and most recent York winner to taste Classic glory at Epsom the following month. No other Derby trial has proved as fertile.

The first was St Paddy in 1960 for Lester Piggott and Noel Murless, while others on the double roll of honour include Reference Point (1987), Benny The Dip (1997), Motivator (2005), Authorized (2007) and Golden Horn (2015).

Arguably, Authorized is the most famous of them all, given he would carry legendary rider Dettori to a long overdue first Epsom Derby win soon after.

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