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York Dante Festival: When is it, history, previous winners and how to watch

A new season at York gets underway with the Dante Festival from 17th-19th May as the scent of newly mown grass and freshly planted flowers add to the sense of new beginnings on the famous Knavesmire.

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York is one of Britain's historic racecourses and it offers some quality meetings across the summer months. 

First up is the Dante Festival, three days of racing spearheaded by the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes and the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante, as well as the famous Yorkshire Cup.

WhatYork Dante Festival
WhereYork Racecourse
WhenWednesday 17th – Friday 19th May, 2023
How to watchbet356 lives Sports Streaming, Racing TV & ITV Racing

When is the Dante Festival?

The Dante Festival is traditionally held in mid-late May and takes place from Wednesday 17th May until Friday 19th May in 2023.

Where is the Dante Festival?

The Dante Festival takes places at York Racecourse, one of Britain's best-loved tracks. York's Knavesmire track has existed since 1730 and almost 300 years on it continues to thrive. 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.

How can I watch the Dante Festival?

Every race from the meeting can be viewed via our 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.

When is the Dante itself?

The Dante is the feature race on day two of the meeting, Thursday 18th May, and will be going to post at 3:35. 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 prize fund of £175,000 this year. 

First run in 1958, jockey Pat Eddery (six wins) and trainer Sir Henry Cecil (seven wins) are the current record-holders in the Dante. 

After the 2022 successes for Desert Crown, 11 winners of the race have 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 last year's York/Epsom hero Desert Crown for Sir Michael Stoute and Richard Kingscote. 

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When is the Musidora Stakes?

Run over the same course and distance as the Dante, the Musidora Stakes is the feature race on day one at York, Wednesday 17th May, and takes places at 3:35. The fillies-only Group 3 has a prize pool of £125,000 and is one of the key early-season trials for the Epsom Oaks in June.

Sir Henry Cecil's tally of nine wins remains unsurpassed, with Frankie Dettori has ridden five winners in the race named after Musidora, the Yorkshire-trained winner of the 1000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks in 1949, including the 2022 winner Emily Upjohn for John & Thady Gosden. She went on to finish second at Epsom, beaten a short-head, in the Oaks. 

There have been seven Musidora Stakes winners that went on to secure Classic glory in the Oaks at Epsom the following month. 

The first was Noblesse in 1963 for Garnie Bougoure and Paddy Prendergast, and the most recent was Snowfall in 2021 for Ryan Moore and Aidan O'Brien (though Frankie Dettori picked up the ride on Snowfall at Epsom, where she won by a record 16-lengths, as Moore sided instead with favourite Santa Barbara from the O'Brien team). 

When is the Yorkshire Cup?

The Group 2 Yorkshire Cup headlines day three of the Dante Festival on Friday 19th May, with a scheduled off-time of 3:35 UK.

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, Doncaster's St Leger Festival and on British Champions Day at Ascot following through the season. 

The great stayer of the modern era, Stradivarius won the Yorkshire Cup in 2018 and 2019 for Frankie Dettori and John Gosden, and regained the mantle in 2022 at the beginning of what proved his final season in training. 

What other races stand out at the meeting?

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

Their leading two-year-old contest is the Listed Marygate Fillies' Stakes on Friday 19th May at 1:50, a five-furlong dash across the York turf.

On day one, look out for the Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes (3:00), a three-year-old contest for sprinters over six-furlongs with a pot of £140,000.

And on the middle afternoon, before the Dante, there is the Middleton Fillies' Stakes over the same course and distance, the £140,000 contest being open to fillies aged four years and older.

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