Dante hero Desert Crown leads Derby confirmations

Sir Michael Stoute’s impressive Dante winner Desert Crown heads 18 possibles for Saturday’s Cazoo Derby at Epsom.

Having just the second run of his life, the Nathaniel colt come home over three lengths clear of a decent field at York to propel himself to the head of the Derby betting.

Stoute has won the race five times already, including once for Desert Crown’s owner Saeed Suhail with Kris Kin in 2003.

Aidan O’Brien has his typically strong challenge, with Stone Age leading the way.

Stone Age won easily at Leopardstown
Stone Age won easily at Leopardstown (Brian Lawless/PA)

Rather unheralded at two, he nevertheless finished second in Group One company and has won both his starts this season, including most recently in Leopardstown’s usually informative Derby Trial.

O’Brien’s other runners also bring sound credentials, with Changingoftheguard landing the Chester Vase and Star Of India taking the Dee Stakes. However, O’Brien has withdrawn Lingfield Derby Trial winner United Nations and Ivy League.

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Charlie Appleby has three contenders, as he did last year when Adayar, seemingly the least fancied of his trio, came out on top.

Nations Pride now appears to be his number one hope after being supplemented at a cost of £75,000. Nahanni and Walk Of Stars are also set to represent Appleby and Godolphin, while Stan Moore has also supplemented rank outsider El Habeeb.

Nations Pride has been improving race by race
Nations Pride has been improving race by race (David Davies/PA)

Appleby’s retained rider William Buick confirmed he will partner Nations Pride.

Speaking to Sky Sports Racing he said: “I ride Nations Pride, all being well, so I’m looking forward to that.

“It’s always difficult as they are three nice horses and I’m fortunate to have the choice, which is a privilege in itself.

“They are three nice horses, hard to split and they are there for a reason.

“Charlie gets the right horses for the big days, they are three beautifully-bred horses and they are there now.”

Connections of the Donnacha O’Brien-trained Piz Badile have entrusted Frankie Dettori with the ride, Dante runner-up Royal Patronage is set to run for Mark and Charlie Johnston and Westover, trained by Ralph Beckett, will sport the famous Juddmonte colours.

The Roger Varian-trained Eydon, who was fourth in the 2000 Guineas, retains the option but is also in the French Derby 24 hours later.

Three others were taken out at the five-day stage – Joseph O’Brien’s Buckaroo, William Haggas’ Lysander and David Menuisier’s Sir Bob Parker.

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