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Blast From The Past: 2001 Dante Stakes

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This week we look back to 2001 and a high-class renewal of the Dante Stakes, a race which helped cement Darshaan’s influence as a stallion…

Ahead of the 2001 Dante Stakes at York, the form of Dilshaan’s Racing Post Trophy win the previous October had received a boost when runner-up Tamburlaine, whom Dilshaan beat by two and a half lengths, finished runner-up to Dilshaan's stable-companion Golan in the 2000 Guineas. Later in May Dilshaan, reportedly slow to come to hand in the spring, was given his chance to enhance his Epsom claims when he lined up with five others - all of them holding Derby entries - for the Dante. It was a renewal featuring performances from the first three that has only been matched for quality once since - the 2015 Dante won by Golden Horn. The 2001 edition of Racehorses picks up the story:

‘Paddock inspection revealed Dilshaan, who was sent off favourite, lacking nothing in fitness, but he didn't stride out to post on ground a good deal firmer than that which he had encountered at Doncaster. There was nothing in the way in which he came back to suggest that good to firm ground was a problem for him, though. Moving through to tackle pacesetter and second favourite Celtic Silence three furlongs out, Dilshaan showed just the right sort of attitude, getting the better of that horse in a sustained duel, gradually gaining the upper hand over the final furlong to win by half a length. Storming Home rallied to finish a close third, but Olden Times failed to do himself justice and beat only one home. Dilshaan reproduced the level of form shown in the Racing Post Trophy but did not give the impression at York that there was a lot better to come, at least not in the short term. Yet, by all accounts, Dilshaan's subsequent homework was impressive enough to suggest otherwise, and support for him grew until he was as short as 100/30 for the Derby on the morning of the race, just behind Galileo and Golan in the betting. He drifted to 5/1 on the day, failing to take the eye in the preliminaries, looking dull in his coat and scratching unimpressively to post. Dilshaan didn't shine in the race itself either, never really looking like mounting an effective challenge in the straight and finishing only seventh to Galileo, beaten around eight lengths. Dilshaan suffered a setback while being prepared for the Princess of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket in July and wasn't seen out again, an X-ray revealing a flake in one of his joints.’

Ironically, just a few days after Dilshaan and Time Away had underlined still further Darshaan's influence as a stallion by winning the Dante and Musidora Stakes respectively, the 1984 Prix du Jockey Club winner Darshaan was found to have a ruptured duodenum and had to be put down. His standing was never higher than at the time of his death, something which the victory of his son Olden Times in the Prix Jean Prat a couple of weeks later served to underline. Though Darshaan had looked to have made a remarkable start to his career at stud when Aliysa, from his first crop, passed the post first in the Oaks, her disqualification meant that it was another year before he had his first Group 1 winner through Hellenic in the Yorkshire Oaks, and his rise to the top proved gradual. In 1993 he was responsible for the US Horse of the Year Kotashaan and three years later for Europe's top miler Mark of Esteem. Darshaan was the leading broodmare sire in Britain & Ireland in 2002, and, some 11 years later, in 2013.

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