Yorkshire Jockeys Horse Racing

Beverley Logo Catterick Logo Doncaster Logo Pontefract Logo Redcar Logo Ripon Logo Thirsk Logo Wetherby Logo York Logo


SIR MICHAEL Stoute is ready to take the wraps off Desert Crown in this Thursday’s Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York Racecourse.

The Nathaniel colt is currently second in some firms’ betting for this year’s Epsom Derby after a striking debut display at Nottingham last November.

Sent off an 11/1 shot for an extended mile maiden, he powered clear in the closing stages to score by five and a half lengths.

Desert Crown has not been seen on a racecourse since and his reappearance preparations for the £175,000 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes have not been entirely smooth sailing, according to Stoute. The Newmarket-based trainer, who has won the extended mile and a quarter Group 2 on six previous occasions, said:

“We’re only just up for a race and that’s why he hasn’t run yet – because he had a minor hiccup, which has delayed the start of his season. We’ve only just got him there ready to go to the races.

”He’s not a spectacular home-worker and he surprised us when he won at Nottingham last year. His work here has been workman-like – but he’s a very talked about horse!”

Stoute is double-handed for Thursday afternoon’s other Group race, the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies’ Stakes. Ville De Grace and Noon Star will represent his powerful stable, from which has won the Group 2 a record seven times – most recently 12 months ago with Queen Power.

The pair will take each other on as part of a six-runner field in the richest ever staging of the contest, which is covered by 7lb on official ratings.

Ville de Grace went down by the minimum margin on her first start of the year in the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket on May 1. Noon Star ran in Listed class the previous midweek at Nottingham where she prevailed by a head.

Stoute assessed: “Both ran nice races. Ville De Grace was just beaten by a nose. She‘s a very consistent, honest filly. I think this trip will suit her slightly better than the Newmarket race because she’s won over a mile and a quarter. And she is in good form.

“Noon Star is a very ordinary home-worker but went and won a race which her rating indicated she should be able to win. She’ll have to improve from that. It’s a very tight, open race. The handicapper’s figures are very, very similar.”

The Dante Festival at York Racecourse runs from Wednesday 11 May to Friday 13 May inclusive. For tickets please call 01904 620911 x 225 or visit www.yorkracecourse.co.uk