Desert Crown’s Dante victory at York sees his odds for the Epsom Derby cut and hopes of victory soar

Desert Crown justified the hype, crashing into favouritism for the Cazoo Derby with an authoritative three-and-a-quarter-length success under Richard Kingscote in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 11:04 pm
Epsom Bound: Dante winner Desert Crown with jockey Richard Kingscote, left, and trainer Sir Michael Stoute at York.Picture: Tim Goode/PA
Epsom Bound: Dante winner Desert Crown with jockey Richard Kingscote, left, and trainer Sir Michael Stoute at York.Picture: Tim Goode/PA

Desert Crown justified the hype, crashing into favouritism for the Cazoo Derby with an authoritative three-and-a-quarter-length success under Richard Kingscote in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.

Winner of a Nottingham maiden in November, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained son of Nathaniel had suffered a setback which had hampered his progress over the winter, yet on only his second start he clearly laid down a marker with a smooth success in the richest renewal of the race on the Knavesmire.

Sent off the 7-2 joint-favourite, Desert Crown was allowed to lob along near the back of the eight-runner field as White Wolf, under Danny Tudhope, set a good tempo, but once produced three furlongs out he quickened up well and lengthened clear to score with ease from market rival Royal Patronage, trained at Middleham by Mark and Charlie Johnston.

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Winner: Cruyff Turn ridden by David Allan (centre) wins The Paddy Power Hambleton Handicap. Picture: Tim Goode/PA Wire.

Despite showing his inexperience, drifting towards the stands rail, he had plenty to spare at the end of the extended 10-furlong contest.

Bookmaker reaction for Epsom was immediate, with Betfair and Paddy Power making Desert Crown the 2-1 Derby favourite. Coral kept Stone Age as their 2-1 market leader ahead of Desert Crown at 3-1.

Victory gave Stoute a seventh Dante success and he will now look to land the Derby for the sixth time – and the second with the colours of Desert Crown’s owner Saeed Suhail, who was victorious with Kris Kin in 2003.

“He had that hold up and he was only really ready for a race now so I’m very pleased, he was very smooth,” said the Newmarket handler.

Impressive: Last Crusader ridden by Daniel Tudhope wins The British Stallion Studs EBF Westow Stakes at York. Picture: Tim Goode/PA Wire.

“I like the Dante, it’s a good trial, a good test.

“He’s got further to go at Epsom, but I’d be very hopeful it wouldn’t be a problem.

“I’ve no idea what’s left to come from him, others in the race are bound to improve, too, but you’d have to expect improvement from him as it is only his second start, just his second visit to a racecourse.”

Mark Johnston was pleased with Royal Patronage, saying: “You’re never delighted with second, bit it’s nice to be back in the game.”

Leyburn handler Karl Burke believes “the sky is the limit” for Last Crusader following his impressive display in the British Stallion Studs EBF Westow Stakes.

Previously campaigned exclusively over six furlongs, the Oasis Dream colt was dropped back to five for this Listed contest and proved he has more than enough dash for the minimum distance.

Always travelling strongly in the hands of Tudhope, the 15-2 chance motored to the winning line to beat stablemate Guilded by two and a quarter lengths.

“He’s a serious horse this fellow,” said Burke.

“He was big horse last year that we thought a bit of and as he’s got stronger and filled his frame he’s got quicker.

“The sky is the limit for him as far as sprinting goes and as he gets stronger, hopefully he’ll go up through the grades.”

Last Crusader is entered in the Temple Stakes at Haydock on Saturday week and the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

During the celebrations, winning owner Steve Parkin of Clipper Logistics suffered a leg injury and had to be attended to by medics in the winner’s enclosure.

Burke said: “Apparently he was jumping up and down in the celebrations and it looks like he’s torn his calf muscle. I hope it’s not his Achilles.”

Skipton-born William Haggas won the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies’ Stakes with 15-2 shot Lilac Road, with Great Habton’s Tim Easterby, last season’s leading trainer, bagging the Paddy Power Hambleton Handicap with 8-1 chance Cruyff Turn.

There were wins for Scott Dixon’s Fine Wine (5-1) in the five furlong opener, Queen Olly (11-4fav)took the Frank Whittle Maiden for David Loughnane, with Nicky Henderson’s Ahorsewithnoname obliging for favourite backers (11-10) by five lengths from Master Milliner under jockey Ryan Moore, in the two-mile finale.