John and Thady Gosden expecting big things from Magisterial in York's Dante Stakes

It’s that time of year again, York’s Dante Festival is upon us. That means that, once again, the Gosdens remain the ones to follow in the biggest race of the meeting the Dante Stakes.

The Festival's feature race, the Dante Stakes, is staged on the Thursday, the middle day of the three, and the Group 2 contest looks likely to include Magisterial, trained by the Gosdens. If he takes his chance, the son of the great Frankel will by partnered by Frankie Dettori.

Beaten on debut at Newmarket last September, the colt went to Haydock a month later and won a soft ground novice event over a mile. He then reappeared last month at Leicester and won with plenty in hand when upped to 1m2f, a performance that was a marked improvement.

It would not surprise to see him prove good enough now stepped up in grade. If that proves to be the case, then he'd be following in some exalted hoofprints of previous Gosden-trained winners of this Derby trial.

Golden Horn

When the sole training licensee, John Gosden sent the brilliant Golden Horn north to lift the prize in 2015.

Like Magesterial, it was also the son of Cape Cross's third career start and he caused a minor surprise by beating stablemate and favourite Jack Hobbs, under Frankie Dettori, readily.

Golden Horn went on to confirm his superiority over Jack Hobbs, beating him further next time out in the Derby, before winning the Eclipse, the Irish Champion Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in a stellar season.

Wings Of Desire

That set the ball rolling on a sequence of three wins inside four years for Gosden, who followed up successfully a year later when Wings Of Desire carried Dettori to success at 9/1.

Once again, the winner beat his better-fancied stablemate, this time Foundation, into third.

That proved to be the last win recorded by Wings Of Desire, who went on to finish fourth in the Derby next time out.

Roaring Lion

Gosden had no runner in the race in 2017, so completed a hat-trick of sorts by then producing Roaring Lion to win another Dante in 2018.

This time he was the preferred candidate of the two fielded by the great trainer, and was in fact the 3/1 market leader. Crossed Baton, under Dettori, finished seventh.

Unlike the two previous winners, Roaring Lion has been a formidable two-year-old and had won the Group 2 Royal Lodge at Ascot as a juvenile.

He didn't quite prove good enough to land the Derby, finishing third to Masar, before bouncing back to win the Eclipse, the Juddmonte International (back over the Dante course and distance), the Irish Champion Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

That was another magnificent season but it's not all been plain sailing for John Gosden.

Benny The Dip

Gosden's first winner of the Dante was in 1997 with Benny The Dip.

He'd been beaten in his first run of the season and arrived at York with his trainer suggested he'd be ridden to stay and we'd see if he was good enough.

Olivier Peslier was on board that day and rode to instructions, asking his mount to go on from some way out and holding the field for a comfortable success by more than two lengths.

Buoyed by this, connections decided the Derby would be his next target and the same tactics would be employed. It worked a treat...just!

Always prominent, jockey Willie Ryan (who had got the mount because both Peslier and Frankie Dettori had looked elsewhere) kicked him clear as they left Tattenham Corner behind and opened up a six-length lead on the field.

However, Silver Patriarch came out of the pack to chase him down but Ryan and Benny The Dip just had enough. After an agonising wait, the judge called them the short-head winners of the 1997 Derby.

Recent Dante Stakes flops

In 2019, Gosden saddled the red hot favourite Too Darn Hot, who has been a precocious juvenile, winning the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes.

However, the son of Dubawi met with defeat for the first time in the Dante, finishing a length second to 7/1 chance Telecaster, a result which meant he ended up swerving the Derby.

In 2020, his sole representative Encipher was an unfancied 10/1 chance and duly finished fifth of six, while a year ago, and with the licence now in the names of both John and Thaady Gosden, their two runners finished second, (Megallan at 14/1) and last (tenth, Uncle Bryn at 9/1).

Despite the occasional reverse, it's pretty obvious that the Gosdens are very much a stable to keep on the right side of in the Dante.

They take this race more seriously than most (other big stables have runners but often their preferred Derby candidates run in other trials).

With three winners and two seconds from six attempts in the last seven years, whatever they run in the race merits huge respect.

Magisterial is rated just 99 by the BHA handicapper at present but it would be a surprise if he does not emerge from the race with a significantly higher mark, which will probably mean another big run for another Gosden entrant.

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