York Dante Festival Betting Tips – 15th, 16th & 17th May 2019

The flat racing festivals continue to come thick and fast as we head into the summer months. Hot on the heels of the excellent Chester May Meeting, action moves north to the Knavesmire track at York for the Dante Festival.

With three cracking days of action to look forward to, at the track which is regularly voted the best in the country in terms of race day experience and facilities, this is always one of the most eagerly anticipated early to mid-season events.

Headlined by the key Derby trial of the festival’s title, we have a total of 21 races to sink our teeth into over the three days, including five Group class events and a feast of handicap puzzles to solve.

About York's Dante Festival

York Racecourse Grandstands

Most of the biggest racecourses in the UK are known for specific meetings, but they also often have smaller meetings that are noteworthy in their own way at other times in the season. Cheltenham has the Festival, for example, but it also has the likes of the November Meeting and the New Year’s Day races to bolster its calendar. York Racecourse also follows this pattern, being best-known for the Ebor Festival in August but also offering the Juddmonte International.

Another of York’s major events is the Dante Meeting, sometimes referred to as the Spring Festival because it takes place every May. It is perhaps better known a the Dante Meeting because the Dante Stakes is the most prestigious race that takes place during it, but that’s not to take away from the rest of the meeting that is filled with fascinating races. Located in the south-west of the city of York, the racecourse comes second only to Ascot in terms of the amount of money offered in prizes per meeting.

As with other meetings, the best place to start when it comes to the Dante Meeting is with the races that take place over the three days of the celebration of racing. It is the start of the flat racing season for York, kicking off the summer in style with top-class racing. Here’s a look at each of the days:

Dante Festival Race List

The meeting kicks off with seven exciting races that have different things to offer the watching crowd. The feature race of the day is the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes, but that’s not take away from the others that will have racegoers on the edge of their seats.

The action continues on the middle day of the meeting and there’s an argument that this is the most important day, given that the feature race is the Dante Stakes that the meeting is named after.

The meeting comes to a conclusion on the third day with another seven races, chief amongst which is the Yorkshire Cup.

RacePrize MoneyAges
Day One
Jorvik Handicap £50,000 4 Years Old +
Infinity Tyres Handicap £30,000 4 Years Old +
Duke Of York Stakes £125,000 3 Years Old +
Musidora Stakes £100,000 3 Year Old Fillies
Handicap £20,000 3 Years Old
EBF Novices Stakes £20,000 2 Years Old (EBF Eligible)
Handicap £21,061 4 Years Old +
Day Two
Handicap £30,000 4 Years Old +
Middleton Fillies' Stakes £125,000 4 Years Old +
Dante Stakes £165,000 3 Years Old
Hambleton Handicap £50,000 4 Years Old +
EBF Westow Stakes £50,000 3 Years Old (EBF Eligible)
Maiden Stakes £20,000 2 Years Old (EBF Eligible)
Investec Handicap £20,000 4 Years Old +
Day Three
EBF Marygate Fillies' Stakes £50,000 2 Year Old Fillies (EBF Eligible)
Fillies' Stakes £50,000 3 Year Old Fillies
Yorkshire Cup Stakes £165,000 4 Years Old +
Handicap £30,000 4 Years Old +
Fillies' Handicap £20,000 3 Years Old + (Fillies & Mares)
Handicap £20,000 3 Years Old
Longines Handicap £21,061 3 Years Old

The Dante Festival Races in Detail

No matter the racecourse, no matter the meeting, there will always be some races that are more prestigious than other and the Dante Meeting at York is no exception. We’ve already outlined the feature races of each day, but there are also a couple of other races that you might want to find out a little bit more about, so here’s a look at them all:

The Dante Stakes

Let’s start by looking at the race that the meeting itself is named after, the Dante Stakes. Named in honour of the horse of the same name that was trained in Yorkshire and won the version of the Derby that was run at Newmarket in 1945, the race was run for the first time in 1958. As you might imagine, the race serves as a good trial for the Derby itself, so it’s worth bearing that in mind when you watch it.

The Dante Stakes was a Group 3 offering when the racing grade system was introduced in 1971, moving to Group 2 nine years later. The first horse to win the Dante Stakes and then go on to win the Derby later in the season was St. Paddy in 1960, with another nine achieving the same feat between then and 2015. Even those that don’t win the Derby do well in similar races, such as the Prix du Jockey-Club in France and the Irish Derby.

Run left-handed over one mile, two furlongs and fifty-six yards, the race is open to three-year-olds and has weight information of nine stone. Fillies get an allowance of three pounds but winners of Group 1 races get a three pound penalty. The race’s most successful jockey is Pat Eddery with six wins between 1981 and 1993. His final win came on Tenby, which was trained by the race’s most successful trainer, Sir Henry Cecil.

The Musidora Stakes

Another race named after a racehorse, this time Musidora. As with Dante, Musidora was trained in Yorkshire and went on to win both the 1000 Guineas and the Epsom Oaks in 1949. The race was created in 1961 and is considered to be a trial for the Oaks. When the grading for races used today was introduced in 1971 the Musidora Stakes was considered to be a Group 3 offering and it has remained so ever since.

At the time of writing six different horses have gone on to win the Oaks after being successful in this race, with the first to do so being Noblesse in 1963. It can also offer information on races other than the Oaks, with Star of Seville winning it in 2015 before going on to win the French equivalent of the Oaks, the the Prix de Diane.

The race is open to three-year-old fillies and has a weight of nine stone. Penalties of four pounds are given to horses that have won Group 1 or Group 2 races. The contest is raced left-handed over one mile, two furlongs and fifty-six yards, there was a purse of £100,000 available for it in 2019.

The Yorkshire Cup

A race with the same name began life as a weight-for-age offering, but it was revived in 1927 as a handicap race when it was raced over two miles. It wasn’t run between 1940 and 1944, with an alternative named the Yorkshire Autumn Cup replacing it in 1945. When it returned after the Second World War it did so as a conditions race before briefly running as a handicap named the Yorkshire Stayers’ Handicap for one year in 1951.

The race continued being run at its original distance until 1965, being reduced to one mile and three-quarters the following year. When the grading of races was introduced in 1971 it was given Group 2 status and run as such ever since. In 2011 the race was made part of the British Champions Series and is the first race of the long-distance discipline of that competition, with winners qualifying for the British Long Distance Cup at Ascot in October.

Run over one mile, five furlongs and one hundred and eighty-eight yards, the race is open to horses aged four and over. The following weight information applies:

  • Weight: 9 stone 1 pound
  • Fillies & mares get a 3 pound allowance
  • Group 1 race winners receive a 5 pound penalty
  • Group 2 race winners receive a 3 pound penalty

The Middleton Stakes

Open to fillies and mares aged four and over, this race is run left-handed over one mile, two furlongs and fifty-six furlongs. The weight information on this one is nine stone, with Group 1 race winners receiving a penalty of three pounds. No horse has ever won the race more than once, though both Pat Eddery and Walter Winburn won it four times apiece during their careers as jockeys.

The race was established in 1981 when it was restricted to fillies aged three. This version of the race was first run in 1997 and was a Listed offering until 2004 when it moved to Group 3. In 2010 it was promoted again to become a Group 2 offering and has remained as such since.

The Duke of York Stakes

A race with the same name was first run at the August meeting at York in 1895, named in honour of Prince George who would later become King George V. That was a middle-distance race and was open to three-year-olds. Another race with a similar title was created at the May Meeting in 1950, being a handicap race and continuing until the middle of the 1960s.

The current version of the race was formed in 1968 as a six-furlongs conditions event. When the current system of grading came into effect three years later it was given Group 3 status, being upgraded to Group 2 in 2003. Typically run the day before the Dante Stakes, the Duke of York Stakes has only been won more than once by Handsome Sailor in 1987 and 1988.

The race is run on the straight over six furlongs and is open to horses aged three and over. The following weights apply:

  • 3-year-olds: 8 stone 13 pounds
  • 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 8 pounds
  • Fillies & mares get an allowance of 3 pounds
  • Group 1 race winners receive a 5 pound penalty
  • Group 2 race winners receive a 3 pound penalty