The May Dante Festival – Day One – The Duke of York Stakes

It may be mid-week, with the same amount to work to do until we get to the weekend, it may be mid-month, with ages to go before your summer holiday (if you are lucky enough to have one!)

But The Jag can give you a small pick-me-up! (I say that to all the girls!)

“Why?” You all say!

York start their three day May Dante Festival Today, and Newmarket start a three day meeting on the Rowley mile tomorrow!


York is commonly known as ‘the Knavesmire‘ as the course lies on an area of land which is a bit ‘boggy’ and marsh-y, which is prone to flooding.

My kind of place! And I’m not joking! I love a damp old marsh, and love looking at all the wildlife, and whilst I have not got there yet, I am only four or five winners away to a day out there! Or if Norah Jones takes my wedding proposal and makes me rich!

But the Knavesmire has a darker secret, it was where they held public hangings, and gallows were erected in 1379, where Dick Turpin, (Not the horse!) who was hanged here in 1739.

I feel this was unfair, as he was from ’round ear’ (to be read in a guttural Essex twang’), where I am, near the border of London/Essex. He should have been packed off back here to meet his end in a jail here, as he had married and lived in Buckhurst Hill.

We had a lovely set of Gallows on the Southend Road, now called the Gallows Corner junction, and we could have done the job just as well, as before he went up north, he p***** off a few people round here too!!

Anyway, I digress! The main race of the card is the Duke of York Stakes which is open to horses aged three years or older, over a distance of 6 furlongs.

The race at York was first run in 1968, and can be for horses aimed at the next month’s Golden Jubilee Stakes on the last day of the five-day Royal Ascot meeting, over the same trip. (not too long for Royal Ascot!)

The other race of note on a solid card is – The Musidora Stakes which is open to three-year-old fillies, over a distance of 1 mile, 2 furlongs. This was named after Musidora, a 1,000 Guineas and the Oaks winner in 1949. This race is a trial for the Oaks, and winning both races was last accomplished by the same horse Sariska in 2009.

A solid day from York.

But Britain is not hogging all the best races today, as our Irish cousins also hold a Stakes race of note at the Naas meeting.

The Blue Wind Stakes is open to fillies and mares aged three years plus, over a distance of 1 mile and 2 furlongs, and is an similar equivalent of tomorrows Betfred Middleton Stakes, at York.

This race was named after a popular Irish trained winner of the English and Irish Oaks in 1981 – Blue Wind. Originally run at Cork Racecourse, and was moved to Naas in 2005, and was won last year by one of my favourite horses, – The barrel shaped Banimpire!

As people of poor quality vocabulary would say:-
In theory, at the end of the day, it is absolutely all good!

The Jag

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