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.
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 However, O’Brien has withdrawn Lingfield Derby Trial winner United Nations and Ivy League.
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.
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.