Dante winners that went on to Derby success

Features | 13th May 2019

The Betway Dante Stakes at York has propelled many racehorses to Derby success and stardom.

The Group 2 contest is considered a leading trial for the Epsom Derby in June. Run over a distance of 1 mile 2 furlongs, there is a healthy £160,000 up for grabs in prize money. This year’s renewal takes place on Thursday 16th May at 3:00pm.

Trainer John Gosden will be looking to make it four winners out of the last five runnings of the race. He fields the hugely talented and as yet unbeaten Too Darn Hot this year, in what is considered a very strong line-up heading to the Knavesmire. In 2018, the colt lived up to his name and set the two year division alight with some scorching performances.

Too Darn Hot missed the QIPCO 2000 Guineas having been unable to recover from suffering a slight leg injury in the build up to the race. He’s since made a full recovery and the trainer is set to run him on Thursday.

Aidan O’Brien as always in the big races, has a strong hand to play. His runner Japan is also at the top of the Investec Derby market having impressed with his two wins in Ireland. It’s set to be a mouthwatering clash between two top contenders that will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the Derby picture.

Other than the Dante Stakes, there’s a huge amount to look forward to at the Dante Festival.

Stradivarius is making his season comeback in the Matchbook Yorkshire Cup on Friday and connections will be hoping he can win the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million once again this season.

There’s also a number of fillies that could bring themselves into contention for the Oaks with a big performance in Wednesday’s Group 3 Musidora Stakes. The Duke of York Stakes features a number of old favourites from the sprinting division, including Brando and Limato who will be looking to add another Group race win to their long and successful careers.

However, the big story of the week will likely be the winner of the Dante Stakes, and whether they can go on to win the Derby and follow in the footsteps of these six legends.

Golden Horn – 2015

Golden Horn was highly impressive in the Dante stakes in 2015, travelling smoothly through the first mile and in the crunch moment produced a decisive turn of speed to pass stable mate Jack Hobbs in the final furlong.

This set him up perfectly for the Derby and the bookmakers were right in placing Golden Horn as the 13/8 favourite ahead of the race.

The race seemed to be up for grabs with a handful of horses in contention in the final stages of the race. However, it was deja vu as Golden Horn passed Jack Hobbs, his momentum was unstoppable and Dettori had a big enough lead to punch the air in celebration.

Authorized – 2007

Hi first run as a three year old for Authorized was in the Dante Stakes and he didn’t disappoint being the 10/11 favourite winning by four lengths which was the best performance of all the 2007 Derby trials.

The bookies were certainly impressed by the run in York as Authorized was made favourite for the Derby. Similar to Golden Horn’s 2015 win, Frankie Dettori waited until the right moment to kick for home and ended up winning by five lengths.

Motivator – 2005

Motivator was originally expected to run in the 2000 Guineas but it was decided that he was more suited to the middle distances in April. It turned out to be a great move as Motivator won the Dante Stakes comfortably that season.

The Derby win turned out to be even more simple than the Dante win. The 2005 Derby was the third win for jockey Johnny Murtagh, he said “it was easier than the others (2000 and 2002 Derby victories) … it all went quiet. I had a little peek round half a furlong down and I couldn’t believe how far I was in front!”


Benny The Dip – 1997

Benny The Dip in retirement. Credit: Pinterest

Benny The Dip led from the front and outstayed the rest of the field in the Dante stakes. The John Gosden trained horse was fluent throughout and he was well set up for Derby success.

Benny The Dip was made third favourite for the Derby, he led from half a mile out and managed to hang on winning by the tightest of margins. Benny The Dip had the pedigree to win the Classic, his sire (father) Silver Hawk won the 1982 Derby.

Reference Point – 1987

Reference Point with jockey Steve Cauthen Credit: Pinterest

Reference Point suffered a minor injury which ruled him out of the 2,000 Guineas that year but he recovered quickly to shrug off the challenge of Ascot Knight in the 1987 Dante.

The 6/4 favourite had the genes to achieve greatness, his sire was 1971 Derby hero Mill Reef and his dam was Group Two winner Home On The Range. Reference Point showed his class and determination by outstaying the rest of the field in the Derby.

Reference Point then went on to win the King George at Ascot and the St Leger at Doncaster, which puts him up there as one of Sir Henry’s Cecil’s greatest ever horses!

Shirley Heights – 1978

Credit: All Breed Pedigree

Another son of the mighty Mill Reef, the British bred and British trained horse completed a smooth victory in the Dante stakes despite competition from future St Leger winner Julio Mariner.

A month later he was entered in the Derby. Initially, Shirley Heights didn’t look comfortable around Epsom racecourse but rallied to produce one of the best comebacks in Epsom Derby history. Not one of the most talented Derby winners but he made up for it in guts and determination!