John Gosden expects to have a clearer picture of Magisterial’s potential ambitions after Thursday’s Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes in York.
The Clarehaven handler saddled four previous winners of Britain’s most recognized Derby event, including two later Epsom heroes in Benny The Dip (1997) and Golden Horn (2015).
But while this pair had already won in stakes society before lining up with the Knavesmire, Magisterial face a significant step up in class after a low-key win at Leicester last month.
“He had the run of the run (at Leicester),” admitted Gosden.
“He’s the Dante – there are always smart foals in there. And I think from that point of view he deserves to take a chance – then we’ll know which direction we want to go with him next. “
Frankel’s colt is set to face eight rivals at the hands of Frankie Dettori, with James Ferguson confident his Group 1 winner El Bodegon is “the one to beat”.
The three-year-old won three of his five starts as a juvenile last season, complementing Group Three success at Chantilly with a top-flight victory at the Criterium de Saint-Cloud in October.
The form of the 10-stadium contest could hardly have worked better, with Aidan O’Brien Stone Age runner-up now favorite for the Cazoo Derby at Epsom next month, while fourth home Buckaroo has since become the one of the main contenders for the Irish 2,000 guineas.
Having since left the track, El Bodegon was originally expected to reappear in last weekend’s Prix Greffulhe – and although a slight setback meant he had to return to the Knavesmire four days later, Ferguson has no worries about to his physical form.
“I wouldn’t have called it if I didn’t think he was 100%. It was very minor and he’s A1,” the Newmarket handler said.
“It’s very exciting and it will be good to get him out. There’s a long year ahead of us. He’s the only Group 1 winner in the field and we’ve beaten the Derby favourite.
“Stone Age looks progressive and has obviously done very well from two to three, but on paper you have to be very happy with what we have here in the yard.
“We have to keep in mind that this is our first round of the season, but we are going there with a lot of confidence.”
After winning under test conditions in France, El Bodegon will meet a faster surface on Thursday, but Ferguson is happy to roll the dice with a horse that is 25-1 to claim Derby glory as it stands. things.
He added: “Honestly, I don’t think you can make those decisions (about the ground) until you actually try it. We didn’t target the soft ground, it just may handle it better than others.
“I think during the trip he will be fine. We are looking forward to him and hopefully he can go and do his best.
“If you want to go to a Derby you’re going to have to give him a run. On paper and form he’s the one to beat and it’s wonderful to have a horse that runs in a race like the Dante with real luck.”
The likely favorite is the Desert Crown trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who have been a diving horse in the Derby market in recent weeks, despite only winning one novice event in Nottingham so far.
Bruce Raymond, race director for owner Saeed Suhail, whose colors were brought to Derby glory by Stoute’s Kris Kin in 2003, said: “I guess we have to see it that way (with Derby potential) .
“Sir Michael is bringing it in very gradually, a month ago you certainly wouldn’t have thought of winning a Derby, but it’s coming now.
“One thing about our horse is that he will stay very well and whatever he does in the Dante he will improve a lot.
“He should run well, but if he’s beaten, that doesn’t automatically mean he won’t be in the Derby. It’s his first race, but if he runs well, we’ll think about it.
“He will be a decent horse in time.”
Aidan O’Brien leads Bluegrass, fourth in the Ballysax Stakes on his reappearance and ridden by Ryan Moore, the pair having mopped up most Derby tries to date.
“Let’s hope Bluegrass can throw his hat in the ring at Epsom too. He clearly needs to step up a lot to even be competitive here, but I hope and expect you’ll see a sharper colt after his fourth in the Ballysax,” Moore told Betfair. .
“Obviously a lot of our horses did well on their first outings.
“Desert Crown was clearly very impressive at Nottingham last season and I ridden him at home, and he’s a good colt, make no mistake. But he’s a trial so he might be unrealistic to expect him to be perfect for his first start since November.”
Mark and Charlie Johnston’s Royal Patronage is set less than two weeks after finishing on the pitch in the 2000 Guineas.
Charlie Johnston told Sky Sports Racing: “I was quite happy with the Guineas race, although we didn’t go there to finish eighth.
“If you look at the race from a yard and a half he’s out there throwing with Coroebus on one side and Native Trail on the other and getting involved in the heat of the moment he then paid for it in the final 150 yards and faded in the dying strides.
“Physically and on the pedigree and on his homework all spring, we assumed that we were going to do these kinds of trips this year and we will learn more in the Dante about where we are going to be for the rest of the year.”