Derby hero Desert Crown backed to shine over shorter trips

Bruce Raymond thinks Derby winner Desert Crown will get quicker with age, as he is prepared for a possible tilt at the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes.

The son of Nathaniel was one of the most impressive winners of the Epsom Classic for many years and while trainer Sir Michael Stoute is playing his cards close to his chest, the mile-and-a-half showpiece at Ascot on July 23 is the next likely landing spot.

Desert Crown became the second Saeed Suhail-owned colt trained by Stoute to prevail in the Derby following Kris Kin’s success in 2003.

Former top jockey Raymond, who serves as racing manager to Suhail, feels the master of Freemason Lodge will head down a traditional route with the colt this summer.

“I am just guessing, but I think Sir Michael will go for the King George, then to York for the Juddmonte International and then the Arc,” said Raymond. “That is what I am guessing, but it is all guesswork.

“It was a very good performance at Epsom, but I just feel the more racing he has, the faster he will get.

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“I think he is a mile-and-a-half horse, but his best trip will end up being a mile and a quarter. He is a very good horse, that’s all we know.”

Raymond also had news of Hala Hala Athmani, who produced a fine run on her seasonal bow in the Group One Commonwealth Cup, finishing just three and a half lengths behind Perfect Power at the Royal meeting.

The Kevin Ryan-trained daughter of Dabirsim had won a Carlisle fillies’ maiden on her debut last August for owner Jaber Abdullah, before finishing a close-up third to Nazanin in the Group Three Firth of Clyde at Ayr a month later.

Though sent off an unconsidered 80-1 chance at Ascot, Abdullah’s racing manager said she had her supporters.

Kevin Ryan thinks a lot of Hala Hala Athmani
Kevin Ryan thinks a lot of Hala Hala Athmani (Tim Goode/PA)

“Wasn’t it a good performance?” said Raymond.

“We fancied her quite a lot. We fancied her when she went for that Group Three at Ayr on her second run last season and she was a little bit behind and was a bit disappointing in many ways. Though she was beaten three-quarters of a length, we thought she was a bit better than that.

“We thought she would go well the other day. There was obviously no money for her, but we thought she had a good chance.

“I’ve no idea where she will go next, but she is decent and Kevin thinks a lot of her.”

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