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Hot favourite Desert Crown handed stall 12 in Derby

Desert Crown will break from stall 12 in the Cazoo Derby – which this year will be run in memory of Lester Piggott – at Epsom on Saturday afternoon.

The son of Nathaniel heads to Epsom looking to defy inexperience and give Sir Michael Stoute a sixth win in the race on the back of an impressive display in the Dante last month, which shot the three-year-old to the head of the betting.

He was a three-and-a-quarter-length winner from fellow Derby runner Royal Patronage (stall one) on the Knavesmire and Desert Crown will be partnered by Richard Kingscote, who will be having just his second ride in the premier Classic.

Desert Crown has been drawn in the same stall from which Serpentine exited in 2020 and Australia in 2014, and there should be few excuses from that position in a race which has its biggest field since 2017.

Aidan O’Brien is set to saddle three as he bids for his ninth Derby success and the Ballydoyle charge is led by Stone Age (four), who was a commanding five-and-a-half-lengths clear of Glory Daze (10) at Leopardstown last time, with the runner-up also given the Epsom green light by handler Andy Oliver.

Stone Age is part-owned by Peter Brant, who bred the horse at his White Birch Farm. Brant, who has won the Kentucky Derby as both an owner and breeder in the past, is enjoying plenty of on-track success since returning to the sport in 2016 following a 20-year hiatus.

Brant told the Nick Luck podcast: “I’m so excited to have a horse in a race like this and breeding the horse makes it even more special.

“I hope the horse runs well and gives a good account of himself. I’m coming to support him and I can’t ask for much more than that.”

He continued by praising Stone Age’s trainer: “I think he’s (O’Brien) a winner and he likes to win. He’s meticulous about his training all the way along and he is not afraid to try things with the horse and experiment with what they like and doesn’t give up on them. He’s very special.”

O’Brien is also represented by Chester winners Star Of India and Changingoftheguard, who have been posted wide and handed stalls 15 and 16 respectively.

Charlie Appleby is also triple-handed as he seeks his third Derby win in five years.

Nations Pride (five) may be the Moulton Paddocks handler’s best chance having been supplemented into the race at a cost of £75,000 and will have the assistance of Godolphin number one William Buick as the son of Teofilo looks to extend a four-race winning streak.

QIPCO Guineas Festival – QIPCO Guineas Friday – Newmarket Racecourse
Nations Pride, here winning the Newmarket Stakes on the Rowley Mile, is the mount of William Buick in the Cazoo Derby (David Davies/PA)

Appleby also has Walk Of Stars (nine), who was last seen finishing second in the Lingfield Derby trial – the same position as Adayar before winning the Derby 12 months ago – and Nahanni who has already tasted victory at Epsom this season and will not be too far away from his stablemates from stall six.

Piz Badile is the other Irish raider among the 17 declarations and the Ballysax Stakes winner will be the mount of two-time Derby winner Frankie Dettori. He will exit stall seven.

Ralph Beckett’s Westover (two) and Simon and Ed Crisford’s West Wind Blows (11) both arrive on the back of victory and both got a sighter of the course when taking part in the Cazoo Derby Gallops Morning, as did Stan Moore’s El Habeeb (14), who is the most inexperienced runner in the field having been seen on a racecourse just once so far in his career.

Charlie Fellowes’ Grand Alliance (17) looks to provide local-born owner Paul Roy with a poignant success in the race, while the Andrew Balding-trained duo of Masekela (eight) and Hoo Ya Mal (three) and Charlie Hills’ Sonny Liston (13) round off the field.

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