Desert Crown is the new Derby favourite after brushing aside trainer’s concerns in Dante

Desert Crown is the new Derby favourite after brushing aside trainer’s concerns in Dante

Desert Crown rocketed to the head of the Derby betting with a sparkling performance in his trial at York.

Despite having just one prior start, the colt looked professional in his defeat of fellow 7-2 joint favourite Royal Patronage. The winner’s trainer Sir Michael Stoute had been concerned the son of Nathaniel was only just ready to start his season in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes.

The Saeed Suhail-owned colt proved weak in the betting in the run-up to the race, but brushed aside his handler’s fears to win by three-and-a-quarter lengths.

“I thought it was a strong Dante,” Stoute told Racing TV. “But I wasn’t confident because I just felt we had only got him up to a race having had a minor setback late February. We didn’t rush him, we had to take our time. He was only just ready to run now.”

Desert Crown, a top price of 3-1 with Coral in the aftermath before sustained support cut those odds to 9-4, was the seventh Dante hero for his yard. The new Classic favourite overtook Aidan O’Brien’s Stone Age, an emphatic scorer in his Group 3 prep race, at the head of the market.

Desert Crown, the first offspring from the dam out of the sire, has to stay an extra two furlongs in the big race on June 4.

“I think he has to go there with a very sound chance,” Stoute added.

Richard Kingscote riding Desert Crown (left) to win the 2022 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York Racecourse

Behind a strong pace set by White Wolf, Desert Crown travelled smoothly and was brought up the centre of the track by jockey Richard Kingscote. The last horse off the bridle, he showed a fine turn of foot to take charge inside the final couple of furlongs.

Bluegrass, trained by O’Brien, placed third, but well-fancied runner El Bodegon never figured.

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“I was in front plenty long enough and we were just rolling around a little in the finish and he’s had a little shout on the way to the start, so you’d like to think there could be more to come,” Kingscote told ITV Racing.

“It’s great to see him (Sir Michael Stoute) in the morning when he gets to see a horse like this lad and he’s been fabulous to me for the last couple of years and it’s lovely to ride him a nice one.”

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