A HOST of horses with previous winning form at York remain engaged in the Group 2 contests that are the highlights of the upcoming Dante Festival on Knavesmire.

Last season’s champion two-year-old, Too Darn Hot, remains the standout name among the now 61 remaining entries for the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes on Thursday, May 16.

The colt’s trainer, John Gosden, has a fine recent record in the famous mile-and-a-quarter race, landing three of the last four renewals, including the 2015 running with subsequent Investec Derby hero Golden Horn.

The unbeaten Too Darn Hot has missed early season targets with this year’s £165,000 contest firmly in the mix as a potential return to action.

The previous York winner in among the colts in Thursday’s race is Phoenix Of Spain, who won the Group 3 Tattersalls Acomb Stakes for trainer Charlie Hills last August.

Master of Ballydoyle, Aidan O’Brien, who has won the Epsom Blue Riband four times in the last seven years, retains some 18 entries in the York showpiece – a race that many people identify as the key trial for the Classic showdown.

They include Group 1 winner Magna Grecia as well as the hugely promising Japan, who won the Group 2 Beresford Stakes on his third and final outing when aged two.

Middleham-based trainer Mark Johnston won this race in 2017 with Permian and a year later he saddled runner-up Dee Ex Bee. He retains four entries for this spring’s renewal. Fellow Middleham handler Karl Burke has Kadar as a further potential local representative.

Earlier on Thursday, the classy middle-distance fillies will go to post in the Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Middleton Stakes.

York form could be at a premium with defending champion Coronet remaining among the 14-strong entry.

Possible opponents include Threading, who was a high-class two-year-old in 2017, winning the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes at York for Mark Johnston.

Champion trainer John Gosden could be represented by improving filly Lah Ti Dah, who returns to Knavesmire, the scene of her impressive Listed race triumph in the EBF Galtres Stakes last August.

On the opening day of York’s season, Wednesday, May 15, the sprinters take centre stage in the Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes where Sands of Mali, the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack winner of 2017, could take on Invincible Army.

The £125,000 Group 2 is over the six-furlong trip with 31 horses still possibles for a spin out of the new 22-bay stalls that will be in operation..

At the other end of the stamina spectrum comes Friday’s feature, the Group 2 Matchbook Yorkshire Cup.

At this stage, 29 stayers remain engaged with defending champion and superstar of the division, Stradivarius, the likely favourite.

The Dante Festival runs from Wednesday, May 15 to Friday, May 17 inclusive.