Ante-post plunge horse Desert Crown is all set to put his Cazoo Derby claims on the line in the Dante Stakes at York on Thursday.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt has only been seen on a racecourse once, when winning a Nottingham maiden in November that has a notable roll of honour – with a certain Mishriff taking it in 2019 and Space Blues the year before.
His price had been in freefall over the last week or so, and has shortened even further with news of a setback to Aidan O’Brien’s Epsom favourite Luxembourg.
Stoute, who last won the Dante with Carlton House in 2011, told PA Media: “He has only had one start as a two-year-old and won it nicely. He had a minor hold-up, which knocked him right off schedule and he isn’t ready to run until next week. We had no choice.
“He is not spectacular at home – he just does enough.
“I would have liked to have run him before this race, but there we are. We move on. We’ll go to York and see how he performs and comes out of it.
“It is early days. He is just a once-raced horse.”
When asked what he was expecting to see from the son of Nathaniel, Stoute replied: “I don’t even know what the opposition is. We don’t have to worry about that.”
Sponsored by Al Basti Equiworld, the 10-furlong contest remains the pre-eminent Derby trial and the majority of the 14 left in at the confirmation stage would make waves in the Epsom market with victory.
O’Brien has won the race four times, but not since Cape Blanco in 2010. He has four possibles, led by Point Lonsdale, who was most recently seen finishing 10th in the 2000 Guineas. Bluegrass, Sussex and Shark Bay – who is declared to run at Naas on Saturday – complete the Ballydoyle quartet.
Magisterial showed lots of promise at two and was a Leicester winner last month for John and Thady Gosden.
Group One-winning juvenile El Bodegon represents James Ferguson, with Charlie Appleby leaving in intended Lingfield Derby Trial runner Walk Of Stars and Saeed bin Suroor having the option for his well-regarded White Wolf.
Royal Patronage (Mark and Charlie Johnston) was another to run in the Guineas, where he was two places in front of Point Lonsdale having raced freely in front for much of the way. He remains the only horse to beat Coroebus, winner of the Newmarket Classic.
Dark Moon Rising (Kevin Ryan), Savvy Victory (Sean Woods), Masekela (Andrew Balding) and Kingmax (David Loughnane) are also in contention.