Camp Johnston excited about candidate Dante Gear Up
Mark Johnston is excited about Standing Equipmentthe player’s potential as he prepares Group 1 winner for the Al Basti Equiworld Dante Stakes in York.
An Acomb winner over the Knavesmire in his second outing, having also struck there in his debut, Gear Up relinquished his undefeated record in the Royal Lodge Stakes to Newmarket.
But passed to 10 stages for the Criterium de Saint-Cloud, he showed great resolve to beat André Fabre’s Botanik by a short collar, with Tiger Tanaka, winner of the Marcel Boussac Prize, back fourth.
So the Derby is looming this season, with Thursday’s York trial being a starting point for the three-year-old Gear Up campaign.
“He’s got all the credentials and we can’t wait to do that,” said Johnston. “It’s almost a case of whatever happens (this week), he’ll go to the Derby afterwards.
“We got closer to Dee Ex Bee a few years ago (finalist at Epsom in 2018), but this horse is already a Group One winner and he would be the first of those I have raced in the Derby I think – I haven’t had that many runners in all of this.
Gear Up’s victory at Saint-Cloud indicated endurance would be an important asset, and Johnston has been encouraged by his progress at home ever since.
“He did well during the winter,” said the Middleham coach. “He was extremely green when he first won at York – but when he came back for the Acomb, no one expected him to step up quite like he did.
“Franny (Norton) said after the Royal Lodge that it wasn’t his race – and he called James Doyle before the French race to tell him to use him a lot.
Gear Up is cited at 11-2 by William hill for Dante in a market led by High Definition at 3-1.
Watch all the races from the Dante Festival 2021 (May 12 – May 14) in York live on Racing TV!