Dante contender Gear Up has ‘all the credentials’

Mark Johnston is excited about Gear Up’s potential as he prepares the Group One winner for the Al Basti Equiworld Dante Stakes at York.

Winner of the Acomb on the Knavesmire on his second outing, having also struck there on his debut, Gear Up surrendered his unbeaten record in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket.

But stepped up to 10 furlongs for the Criterium de Saint-Cloud, he showed great resolution to beat Andre Fabre’s Botanik by a short neck, with Prix Marcel Boussac winner Tiger Tanaka back in fourth.

The Derby therefore looms this season, with Thursday’s York trial very much a starting point for Gear Up’s three-year-old campaign.

“He’s got all the credentials, and we’re really looking forward to it,” said Johnston.

“It’s almost a case of whatever happens (this week) he’ll be going to the Derby after.

“We went close with Dee Ex Bee a few years ago (runner-up at Epsom in 2018), but this horse is a Group One winner already and he’d be the first of those I’ve run in the Derby I think – I haven’t had that many runners in it all told.”

Gear Up’s Saint-Cloud victory indicated stamina will be a significant asset, and Johnston has been encouraged by his progression at home since.

“He did well over the winter,” said the Middleham trainer.

“He was extremely green when he won at York first time – but when he went back for the Acomb nobody was expecting him to step up quite the way he did.

“Franny (Norton) said after the Royal Lodge that it wasn’t his running – and he called James Doyle before the French race to tell him to make plenty of use of him.”

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