Classy Desert Crown can end 12-year wait for Sir Michael Stoute in the Cazoo Derby at Epsom


Classy Desert Crown can end 12-year wait for Sir Michael Stoute in the Cazoo Derby, but must overcome a topclass field featuring premier Ballydoyle hope Stone Age

  • Desert Crown looks capable of winning the Cazoo Derby on Saturday
  • The Nathaniel colt was an impressive winner of the Dante Stakes at York
  • Stone Age nicely drawn in stall four and arrives with plenty of confidence 

It has been a dozen years since Sir Michael Stoute landed the Cazoo Derby with Workforce, but DESERT CROWN (Epsom, 4.30) boasts all the credentials required to end that hiatus.

An impressive winner of the Dante Stakes at York, the Nathaniel colt coped well with easy ground on his Nottingham debut when routing his field and is likely to have stepped forward mentally and physically for that classy reappearance on the Knavesmire.

It is unlikely his master trainer had him fully wound up for his comeback so there could be any amount of improvement still to come and his ability to quicken and change gear sets him apart from much of today’s field.

Desert Crown would also be an apt winner given Sir Michael Stoute’s royal connections

 Desert Crown would also be an apt winner given Sir Michael Stoute’s royal connections

The one question mark following two smooth victories on relatively flat tracks is how Desert Crown will cope with the undulations of Epsom.

However, the selection looks a well-balanced colt with a professional way of going and, although one or two of his rivals underperformed that day, his superiority was so apparent that it will be disappointing if he cannot confirm his apparent class on Saturday afternoon.

Needless to say, dangers abound in a race which looks packed full of potentially topclass colts and there has been no disguising the admiration Ryan Moore has for Stone Age, who appears the premier Ballydoyle hope.

Sir Michael Stoute's star looks capable of winning the most important race of the Flat season

Sir Michael Stoute’s star looks capable of winning the most important race of the Flat season

A sparkling Leopardstown performance saw the Galileo colt slashed in price and Moore was effusive in his praise for Stone Age, who looks nicely drawn in stall four and arrives with plenty of confidence behind his chance. Trainer Aidan O’Brien is three-handed in the showpiece. His two Chester winners at the s tar t of las t month, Changingoftheguard and Star Of India, both appear stayers who have live chances.

Preference is for the latter, who looks overpriced for a horse that galloped all the way to the line in the Dee Stakes and is bred to relish today’s assignment.

He is fancied to run a big race, as is Nations Pride, who was supplemented on Monday following some strong homework. 

A Newmarket win in a minor event may not scream future Derby winner, but his closing sectional time was on a par with the competitive seven- furlong handicap won by Shine So Bright, so Nations Pride appears to have the perfect blend of speed and stamina for an examination like today’s.

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