Dante Stakes tips and runner-by-runner guide to Thursday’s 3.35 at York

Will we see this year's Epsom Derby winner emerge?

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The Dante Stakes serves as a major trial for the Epsom Derby and one of the leading fancies for next month’s Classic, Desert Crown, faces eight rivals in Thursday’s 3.35pm at York.

El Bodegon, who beat Derby antepost favourite Stone Age in last year’s Criterium de Saint-Cloud, and John & Thady Gosden’s Magisterial are among the chief threats, while Aidan O’Brien will be hoping Bluegrass can continue his stable’s fantastic form and further strengthen his Epsom squad.

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The most recent Dante Stakes winner to follow up in the Derby was Golden Horn in 2015 while last year’s champion Hurricane Lane finished third at Epsom before scoring in the St Leger.

You’ll find our Dante Stakes runner-by-runner guide and tips from Paddy Power’s horse racing experts below.

Dante Stakes runners

Bluegrass

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien Jockey: Ryan Moore Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 2

Steadily progressive colt who stepped up on 2-y-o form when fourth in the Ballysax (Group 3, 10f) at Leopardstown on return, shaping as if ready for 12f. Yard have dominated the Derby Trials in recent weeks but this one would be a surprise winner.

Dark Moon Rising

Trainer: Kevin Ryan Jockey: Kevin Stott Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 8

Useful colt who made a winning return in class 2 event at Chelmsford. Creditable fourth in listed event at Newcastle since but firmly up against it here.

Desert Crown

Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute Jockey: Richard Kingscote Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 3

280,000 gns yearling, Nathaniel colt who could hardly have made a more impressive debut at Nottingham in the autumn, storming clear. Plenty about him physically and open to significant improvement (current second favourite for the Derby). Yard has won this 6 times.

El Bodegon

Trainer: James Ferguson Jockey: Daniel Muscutt Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 7

Most progressive at 2 yrs, ending the season with a win in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud (9.9f, soft) by 1½ lengths from current Derby favourite Stone Age. albeit seen to good effect from the front. That’s the best form on offer so must be considered with stamina already proven.

Kingmax

Trainer: David Loughnane Jockey: Rossa Ryan Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 4

Showed promise for Roger Varian last year and stepped up markedly when bolting up in a novice at Kempton in March. Improved again when fourth in the Craven at Newmarket 4 weeks ago, albeit beaten over 6 lengths. More needed again stepping up in trip.

Magisterial

Trainer: John & Thady Gosden Jockey: Frankie Dettori Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 6

Frankel colt from an excellent family and confirmed debut promise when off the mark in 1m novice at Haydock in October. Improved a chunk when defying a penalty at Leicester over this trip on return, though that form received a knock at Windsor on Monday. Stable has won this 3 times since 2015.

Masekela

Trainer: Andrew Balding Jockey: Jason Watson Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 5

Narrowly denied by subsequent dual Group 1 winner Native Trail in Superlative at last year’s July meeting. Bagged a Newbury listed win on his next start but just respectable efforts in defeat since, including when second in listed race at Newmarket on return. Others have more potential.

Royal Patronage

Trainer: Charlie & Mark Johnston Jockey: Jason Hart Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 1

Front runner who was impressive winner of Acomb here before following up in Royal Lodge at Newmarket, snatching victory from Coroebus who kicked too soon. Struck into in the Futurity at Doncaster final 2-y-o start and ran to form when 8th in 2000 Guineas on return. Looks ready for this longer trip.

White Wolf

Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor Jockey: Daniel Tudhope Age: 3 Weight: 9st 2lbs Draw: 9

Invincible Spirit colt who made a promising start to his career when winning Southwell novice (1m) 17 days ago, overcoming inexperience. This demands plenty more but clearly has potential.

Dante Stakes tips

Matt Chapman: EL BODEGON had a little setback not so long ago but he might just be underestimated here for James Ferguson and Danny Muscutt. His Group 1 win in France last season has been given a big form boost and he clearly stays well. It’s impossible to know if he will improve like some of these, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed and will back him.

Rory Delargy: Desert Crown may be very promising but it’s impossible to peg exactly where he is. I’d like my selections to have more experience in these type of races. I’m on MASEKELA for Jason Watson and Andrew Balding. He was disappointing at Newmarket on his return this season but he lost to Eydon, who is a very good horse. Masekela didn’t settle well that day and the rest of his form from last season has held up. He’ll sit behind the rest, who will be going a strong pace, and he could pounce late on.

Timeform: Those that dominate the market are all about potential so surely EL BODEGON represents some value having already beaten current Derby favourite Stone Age in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud in October. There’s no getting away from the market vibes surrounding Desert Crown and he looks a colt with significant potential despite the bare form of his Nottingham maiden win being nothing special. Royal Patronage should be suited by this step up in trip and makes each-way appeal.

Ruby Walsh: When you look down through it, the one that sticks out like a sore thumb on form is James Ferguson’s EL BODEGON. He beat Stone Age on his last start and his form at Chantilly is really strong as well. If he was trained by Godolphin or Ballydoyle, he’d be the clear favourite.

Jason Weaver: MASEKELA has some rock solid juvenile form. He’s been behind last year’s champion two-year-old and 2,000 Guineas runner-up Native Trail and Masekela put up a decent return to action behind Eydon, who finished fourth in the 2000 Guineas. This trip has always looked well within his compass and excellent value at the odds. Desert Crown is the one they’re all shouting about in Newmarket but he’s going to be very tight in the market.

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