Talking Horses: Derby winner Desert Crown set to be ruled out for season

The chance that Desert Crown, who maintained his unbeaten record in the Derby at Epsom in June, will race again in his Classic season appeared to recede further on Friday when Bruce Raymond, racing manager for Saeed Suhail, the colt’s owner, admitted that Sir Michael Stoute is already running out of time to get Desert Crown ready for a race in October.

Speaking at Goodwood, Raymond said: “I would say he’s doubtful [for the rest of the season]. There’s nothing major wrong with him [and] we’ll try to get him there, but it’s not the injury, it’s the time it takes to prepare him for it.”

Desert Crown was “only just ready” for his seasonal reappearance in the Dante Stakes in May according to Stoute, after an injury problem earlier in the year and has not seen a track since powering two-and-a-half lengths clear of Hoo Ya Mal and Westover, the subsequent Irish Derby winner, just over three weeks later.

He was was initially being aimed towards last weekend’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes after his Epsom success but was ruled out of that contest, as well as the International Stakes at York in August, earlier this month.

“I know the way that Sir Michael trains, he wouldn’t rush this horse,” Raymond said. “The owner is very patient and said, whatever Sir Michael wants, I’m not going to press him. He’ll probably be all right in August [or] September, but then you haven’t got enough time to prepare him [for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe or Champion Stakes].

“It’s slightly different [to his injury earlier in the year]. I think they thought it was a hoof originally until they investigated and then it was something else, but it isn’t major.”

The Sheema Classic on World Cup night at Meydan in March is a possible early target in 2023, although there are concerns it could impact on Desert Crown’s schedule in the early months of the Flat season.

“He [the owner] like that but I’m not sure if Michael would agree to that,” Raymond said. “He’s from Dubai and getting the trophy from Sheikh Mohammed would be wonderful, but once you do that, you take away the beginning of the [European turf] season. You’ve got to start preparing them in January and then you’re going to forget the first few months of the year and you don’t come back until Ascot.”

Desert Crown briefly replaced Westover as favourite for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe after Ralph Beckett’s colt finished fifth of six runners in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last weekend, but he has now been removed from most bookmakers’ lists.

Japan’s big hope for this year’s Arc, Titleholder, set a new track record over 11 furlongs when winning a Group One at Hanshin in June and is the new favourite in most lists at around 7-1. Torquator Tasso, who pulled off a huge shock to win last season and ran well on unsuitably fast ground to finish third in the King George, is priced up at around 8-1 while Sir Mark Prescott’s mare, Alpinista, is 9-1 on the back of a Group One win at Saint-Cloud earlier this month.

Khaadem returned to the scene of his impressive success in the Stewards’ Cup three years ago to register a narrow success in the Group Two King George Stakes, giving Charlie Hills, his trainer, a fifth success in the race in the last six seasons.

The first four of those victories were all recorded by the exceptional Baattash and though Khaadem was less explosive than his former stable companion, he did enough in his second win of the season to earn quotes of around 10-1 for next month’s Nunthorpe Stakes at York.

“He’s getting faster with age and today he was so relaxed, which isn’t like him,” Hills said.

“Ryan was very positive when he got off, that [Group One races] is where we have to look now, whether it’s the Nunthorpe or wherever it is. We’ll look at those races and if the ground is fast, that will give him the best chance of winning.”

Tinto can pounce at big odds in Stewards’ Cup
Michael Dods has few peers when it comes to training sprinters and he will head down to Sussex from his County Durham stable on Saturday with two decent chances to win the Stewards’ Cup for the second year running. Commanche Falls, who beat Gulliver by a neck on heavy ground 12 months ago, is back for another crack and weighted to go well on just a 2lb higher mark.

At the likely odds, however, his stable companion, Tinto (3.20), makes more appeal. Dods picked up the six-year-old for just 21,000gns at Tattersalls in October and he has swiftly rediscovered the kind of form that saw him win a Newmarket handicap for Amanda Perrett off a mark of 100 two summers ago. He runs off 94 on Saturday, has a decent pitch in stall 18 with plenty of speed nearby and looks much too big at around 33-1.

Goodwood 1.05 Maiden races are not the usual ITV fare and many punters will give this a swerve, but Classic is an obvious and worthy favourite after an eye-catching debut at Newbury earlier this month.

Goodwood 1.40 Lethal Levi has been in winning form since the weights for the Stewards’ Cup were published and gets into this consolation race for horses balloted out of the main event on a mark of 91, 1lb lower than for his success at Newmarket last weekend.

Newmarket 1.55 Kevin Ryan has an excellent strike-rate with runners making their nursery handicap debut and Transfer Affection is the type to go well at around 8-1.

Goodwood 2.10 Cemhaan had a tricky passage at Royal Ascot last time and finished with running left to give. The step back up to a mile-and-three-quarters should help him regain his winning thread from earlier in the season.

Newmarket 2.25 Star Fortress was unraced at two and did not see a track until June this year but she showed an excellent turn of foot to secure her first win at Chelmsford earlier this month and is bred to appreciate this step up to 12 furlongs.

Goodwood 2.45 Emily Dickinson ran well in the Irish Oaks a fortnight ago despite a drop in trip and this step back up to 14 furlongs should see a return to winning form.

Goodwood 3.55 Positive Impact lost out by a short-head to the improving Jimi Hendrix at Newmarket last time and the booking of top apprentice Benoit de la Sayette should offset a 5lb rise in the weights.