“It Would Be A Huge Upset Were He To Be Beaten” – Desert Crown Back In The Brigadier Gerard

Desert Crown | PA Media


If there were one race you could have bet that TDN Rising Star and unbeaten Derby hero of 2022 Desert Crown (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) would make his comeback in it would have been the G3 Brigadier Gerard S. which carries Sir Michael Stoute's stamp more than any other in the British Pattern. One of his record-setting dozen successes in the key Sandown staging post was the yard's penultimate Blue Riband hero Workforce (GB) (King's Best), so with all the stars aligning the stage is set for the return of Saeed Suhail's beau ideal on what promises to be an exciting and nerve-jangling Thursday evening.

While most connections of horses that carry this kind of gravitas err on the side of caution when commenting on a comeback after so long off the track, the owner's racing manager Bruce Raymond is having none of it. “I'm more than hopeful. It would be a huge upset were he to be beaten,” he bullishly stated on Wednesday. “Of course, they can all be beaten but I don't expect him to be.”

“Michael is definitely 100% happy with him, he's fine, he's working good and while there's enough improvement to come, he's fit enough to do himself justice,” Raymond added. “We've got a pacemaker in Solid Stone to make sure it's not a crawl. He leads him in all his work and he didn't run at Chester recently just so he could run in this.”



Is Hukum The Fly In The Ointment?

Another who hasn't been seen since last year's Derby meeting is Shadwell's Hukum (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), with his career-best G1 Coronation Cup success looking shortly after to have been his last. Nursed back from the brink by the team at Shadwell and trainer Owen Burrows, the 6-year-old who had the audacity to beat Pyledriver (GB) (Harbour Watch {Ire}) by 4 1/4 lengths at Epsom is not to be underestimated although his participation depends on an inspection of the surface by connections.

“Timing-wise it really works out, it slots in well with the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot as a prep run,” Burrows said. “Fingers crossed he can show his old enthusiasm, run a nice race and get his season on track. Myself and Richard Hills are going to walk the track beforehand, I've been liaising with Andrew Cooper, the clerk, and he normally does a great job. I just don't want to run him for the first time in the year on fast ground and it's an evening meeting, so there's plenty of time throughout the day for it to dry out. We'll just be taking a look to make sure we're happy.”


Two Points To Make

Also at Sandown is the Listed National S., where Sultan Ali's Blue Storm (GB) (Blue Point {Ire}) bids to confirm the merit of the form of his Newmarket novice win at the Craven meeting. The James Tate trainee is up against eight other winners among the 10, including Godolphin's fellow Newmarket scorer On Point (Ire), another son of Blue Point (Ire) in a fascinating renewal of the Royal Ascot pointer.

“We were very impressed with him first time and the form couldn't have worked out any better,” Tate said of Blue Storm. “He's been impressing at home and it's all positives really. Having said that, I've ran horses in the National S. a few times and on paper it looks a strong renewal, so it's a good job we're bringing what we think is a good horse in to it.”



TDN Rising Stars Cast Long Shadows

ParisLongchamp also stage a card running into the evening, with the feature G3 Prix Hocquart seeing Stall Nizza's ultra-impressive G3 Herzog von Ratibor-Rennen winner Alpenjager (Ger) (Nutan {Ire}) take on the French middle-distance colts. He split TDN Rising Star Mr Hollywood (Ire) (Iquitos {Ger}) and Sunday's G3 Baden-Baden Derby-Trial scorer Fantastic Moon (Ger) (Sea The Moon {Ger}) in Munich's G3 Bavarian Classic at the start of the month and that form looks red hot. Andre Fabre, whose record stands at seven winners of this, saddles two with Michael Tabor's First Minister (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) set to act as barometer of the merit of the pair of TDN Rising Stars he split in this track's Prix de Ferrieres conditions event last month. Pascal Bary will be watching keenly to see if the winner of that, Feed The Flame (GB) (Kingman {GB}), gets a boost while Jean-Claude Rouget will also be hoping that the Fabre runner shows the third-placed Silver Crack (Fr) (Cracksman {GB}) in a favourable light.

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