Dubai: Godolphin sees strength in numbers as they renew their pursuit for an Epsom Derby contender in Wednesday’s Group 2 Dante Stakes at York, a race that has been a rich source for subsequent Derby winners.
The boys in blue, who have yet to win the Derby their trademark colours, are responsible for four of the 11 runners in the 2,000 metre contest, led by Saeed Bin Surour’s exciting prospect, Benbatl.
Godolphin are also represented by Wolf Country, who is trained by retained handler Charlie Appleby, while Kevin Ryan supplies Syphax and David Elsworth, Swiss Storm.
The Dubai-owned stable have a good record on the Knavesmore but have not won the Dante since Moon Ballad in 2002.
In the last two decades the Dante has thrown up six Derby winners and six overall. It even unearthed a Derby winner who was beaten in the Dante, the horse being Workforce in 2010.
Assessing Benbatl’s chances against some high quality opposition that is headed by the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Craftsman, a son of the mighty Frankel who landed the Derby Trial at Epsom last month, Bin Surour said: “His last piece of work was very good, and he has been improving all the time at home.
“We know he needs this step up in trip. We’ll see the real horse this time. We will see how good he is. There are no excuses.”
Wolf Country steps up from a Listed race victory at Saint-Cloud and Appleby commented: “I have been very pleased how he has progressed since his trip to France, and some ease in the ground should be to his liking. The drop back in trip is a slight concern, but he is ready to run a good race.”
Earlier this week John Ferguson, Godolphin’s chief executive and racing manager, explained the logic behind running four horses in the Dante.
“I feel it’s a good opportunity to establish a pecking order,” he told godolphin.com. “Not only do we have Epsom coming up, there is Chantilly and Royal Ascot to follow. This is a great chance to see where we stand with all of them.”