Derby Favourite Desert Crown Leaves Connections Purring After Gallop


Sir Michael Stoute: trainer of Derby favourite Desert Crown | Emma Berry

Connections of G1 Cazoo Derby favourite Desert Crown (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) were left purring after a scintillating exercise gallop on Thursday as Sir Michael Stoute put the finishing touches on what could become the legendary trainer's sixth win in the Classic.

Stoute will forever be remembered for managing Shergar (Ire) to win the Derby in 1981 and followed up on that breakthrough success in the race with Shahrastani (1986), Kris Kin (2003), North Light (Ire) (2004) and Workforce (GB) (2010).

Desert Crown advertised the trainer's claims of bolstering his Derby record when running out an ultra-impressive winner of the Dante at York a fortnight ago and, despite not normally being the flashiest in his work at home, is reported to have sparkled in a gallop at Newmarket on Thursday.

Bruce Raymond, racing manager to Desert Crown's owner Saeed Suhail, said, “He went nicely and everyone is happy. He went on the watered gallop and we're very pleased with him.”

A best-priced 9-4 chance for the Derby on Saturday week, Desert Crown was ridden in the key workout by Richard Kingscote, and is understood to have pulled well clear of group-winning stablemate Solid Stone (Ire) (Shamardal), ridden by Ted Durcan.

It was on that same watered gallop that Stoute readied all five of his Derby winners and, similar to the 76-year-old trainer's first winner of the Classic, Desert Crown will be bidding to emulate Shergar in winning the race off the back of just two starts.

Raymond, who was one of a small group of onlookers to witness the morning workout, added, “He's not a great worker, but I believe everyone was very happy with him this morning, both the jockey and Sir Michael.”


Masekela Given Derby Mission

   Masekela (Ire) (El Kabeir) has been confirmed to be on course to take on Desert Crown in the Derby by Andrew Balding after the colt passed a stalls test.

Winner of the Denford S., Masekela was also a short-head second to Native Trail (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) in the Superlative S. as a 2-year-old and returned to finish an encouraging runner-up to Eydon (Ire) (Olden Times {GB}) in the Feilden S. in his first outing at three.

Although withdrawn at the start of the G2 Dante S. earlier this month, his intended Derby prep, Balding has now confirmed it is all systems go for Epsom.

Balding said, “He passed his stalls test on Monday and that (Derby) is the intention. I think the horse has improved a good deal since Newmarket, especially in his home work. Obviously, there are stamina question marks on his sire's side, but also some room for optimism on the dam's side.”

He added, “I've been impressed by the way he has worked since the Feilden S. and on his 2-year-old form he's not a million miles away from at least deserving his place in the field.”

Meanwhile, Charlie Hills has swooped to book Tom Marquand for 50-1 outsider Sonny Liston (Ire) (Lawman {Fr}), who is set to be the trainer's first runner in the Derby.

Hills said, “We all know how well Tom is riding at the moment. He's in great form, is riding with huge confidence, and those are things you can't beat really. We're really looking forward to having him in the saddle next Saturday.”

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