Thunderous Wins The Dante!
It was a thrilling day for Highclere’s northern syndicate, when they watched their horse Thunderous win the Dante at York, writes Jason Fildes
When we started out with an idea of having some Highclere horses in training here in the north of England, in our wildest dreams we couldn’t have imagined that, within two years, one of our first horses would win one of the most famous races in the racing calendar!
Thunderous has now run five times, winning four and second once. He has been a tricky horse to train with a couple of setbacks, including inserting a pin in a hind fetlock at the end of last year, so all credit must go to trainer Mark Johnston and his brilliant team at Middleham.
Having won a Group 2 race, we will now be looking towards the top races over a mile-and-a-half in Europe towards the back end of this year – and he will stay in training as a four year old to contest some big races next year too.
Renowned as the best Derby trial, the Dante Stakes at York is normally run in May. The winner of the Dante is usually promoted to the head of the betting for the Derby (run in a normal year on the first Saturday in June).
Obviously, this has been a very different year for racing with the Derby being run before the Dante (both in July this year). However, it was felt that the Dante was such an important race in its own right it had to be put into the revised racing calendar – and it attracted a top class field on the day.
Sir Michael Stoute sent up the unbeaten Highest Ground from Newmarket who started favourite, Aidan O’Brien was represented by Cormorant and Kevin Ryan’s Juan Elcano had finished fifth in the 2000 Guineas. Cormorant, the Ballydoyle challenger, set the pace with Thunderous and jockey Franny Norton racing close behind the leader on his outside.
In the straight, Ryan Moore on Cormorant made a bold bid to hold on to his lead. Highest Ground then went to the front with just over a furlong to run but Thunderous was battling bravely down the centre of the course. He took the lead in the final strides to win a thrilling race by a neck from Highest Ground with Juan Elcano two lengths away in third.
After the race, assistant trainer Charlie Johnston, said: “When it was announced the Dante would fall on this date we thought it would be the perfect race for Thunderous. We went to Newmarket for his prep race only 80 per cent fit in the knowledge that race would bring him forward and I still don’t think you’ve seen the finished article today. There’s a lot more to come and he’s very exciting. He’s got a big future.”
As racing is currently behind closed doors, the syndicate had a get together on Zoom before the race and all his owners were watching on ITV. The excitement afterwards was unbelievable and we’re planning a massive party when we can all get together!
Highclere – Jason Fildes