Desert Crown enjoyed a gallop in Newmarket on Friday morning as he put the finishing touches to his Brigadier Gerard Stakes preparations ahead of his eagerly-anticipated return next Thursday.

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt has been off the track since scorching to victory in the Derby just shy of 12 months ago, but has sportingly been kept in training by his owner Saeed Suhail in a bid to secure more middle-distance riches this term.

Partnered on the Limekilns by regular jockey Richard Kingscote, connections were delighted to be able to get the son of Nathaniel on grass before his Sandown reappearance and with the tuning-up process all but complete, excitement is now building ahead of a contest Stoute has won 11 times in the past – including last year with Desert Crown’s stablemate Bay Bridge.

“We were very pleased to get him on the grass on the round gallop on the Limekilns and he worked very nicely and finished in front of his lead horse,” said Bruce Raymond, racing manager for the owner.

“I’m not sure if he does too much at home now, but he shouldn’t need to, he will be in good shape going into the Brigadier Gerard.”

Desert Crown is one of eight in the mix for the Sandown Group Three and could be joined by stablemate and regular gallops partner Solid Stone.

Also on the comeback trail is Owen Burrows’ Hukum who has been on the sidelines for virtually the same amount of time as Desert Crown having not been seen since landing the Coronation Cup the day before the latter’s Epsom triumph.

Group One-winning filly Nashwa is one of two in the mix for John and Thady Gosden alongside Francesco Clemente, while the David Simcock-trained Cash was beaten a short head by subsequent Irish Derby champion Westover over track and trip in the Classic Trial last term and could make just his second start at the distance.

Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Royal Ascot winner Claymore and Keith Dalgleish’s Chichester complete the list of entrants.

Ralph Beckett’s Haskoy will bid to begin her season with a bang in the Al Rayyan Stakes at Newbury.

The Golden Horn filly was twice a winner as a three-year-old, taking a novice on debut and then the Listed Galtres Stakes at York in August.

Her next outing was the final Classic of the season, the St Leger at Doncaster, where she ran a fine race to cross the line in second place but was later demoted to fourth as she was deemed to have caused interference.

Her run at Newbury will be her first of the season in a career that seems to be following an upward trajectory.

Barry Mahon, general manager for owners Juddmonte, said: “She’s a star.

“To jump up from winning a maiden on the all-weather, to then win a stakes race at York days later and then be thrown in at the deep end into a St Leger and finish second past the post.

“She’s a good filly, but she’s just taken a bit of time to come to hand.”

Godolphin run a well-fancied duo, with multiple Group winner Yibir at the head of the market for Charlie Appleby.

The five-year-old has not been seen since winning the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket in July, prior to which he was internationally campaigned and only narrowly beaten in the Sheema Classic, the Jockey Club Stakes and the Man o’War Stakes at Belmont.

Appleby’s second runner is Kemari, another five-year-old gelding but a horse who was more recently seen when finishing fourth and second in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy and the Dubai City Of Gold respectively at Meydan.

The trainer told “Yibir suffered a setback after winning in July but his preparation has gone well. He went for a racecourse gallop at Newmarket a couple of weeks ago and we were very pleased with how he went.

“If he can bring the level of form he showed as a three-year-old and what we saw last year, he is going to be the one they all have to beat.

“Kemari showed great consistency over the winter in Dubai and the ground should be lovely for him. He is a very straightforward horse in terms of his running style and will hopefully be very competitive if he can replicate his Meydan performances.”

William Haggas is represented by Gaassee, a four-time winner who returns to the track for the first time since August and since being gelded.

The trainer said: “That is a very strong race for what it is. It’s a Group Three race with lots of good horses in it.

“He has got talent – we’ve had a few issues with him, but he’s ready to go and he’ll enjoy some decent ground.

“We gelded him at the end of last season. I think he’s OK.”

John and Thady Gosden’s Israr, Andrew Balding’s Old Harrovian, Aidan O’Brien’s Bolshoi Ballet also feature.

Elsewhere there are two Listed races, the first of which is the opening BetVictor Carnarvon Stakes over six furlongs.

Godolphin and Appleby have a strong hand once again through Noble Style, winner of the Gimcrack last term and sixth in the 2000 Guineas when last seen.

Appleby said: “Noble Style goes into this in good order on the back of a pleasing run in the 2000 Guineas, when he was trying a mile for the first time on soft ground.

“We came out of that race with the mindset that sprinting was going to be the way forward.

“Working back from the Commonwealth Cup, we felt getting him back into a sprinting frame of mind here was the right thing to do. This looks a nice springboard onto Royal Ascot and we are very much looking forward to seeing him back over this trip.”

The other Listed contest is the Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes, a 10-furlong event for likely Oaks types.

Juddmonte and Beckett run Bluestocking, a daughter of Camelot who won on debut in September when taking a Salisbury novice by a length and a quarter.

“She won her maiden well. Unfortunately we missed Lingfield (last weekend), which was where we wanted to go, and she has taken time to come to herself like a lot of fillies this spring,” Mahon said of the bay.

“Lingfield was our initial plan and the filly was probably not ready to run there anyway, so the switch to the all-weather didn’t really matter to us.

“We’re just waiting for her to come and bloom and she’s coming.

“Everyone is happy with her, she’s not 100 per cent there yet, but she’s coming and just about ready to start.

“She’s a nice filly, full of potential but there is still the unknown until we see her on track and that is where we will find out what her level is.”

Cuban Thunder looks another Royal Ascot-bound juvenile for Amo Racing having won the Frank Whittle Partnership Maiden Stakes at York.

The Profitable colt was second on his debut at the Craven meeting to James Tate’s Blue Storm and the third, Hugo Palmer’s Hackman, came out and won well at Chester.

Sent off a heavily backed 5-4 favourite, Dominic Ffrench Davis’ youngster had to battle hard to gain the upper hand but eventually saw off a pair of newcomers in Charlie Appleby’s Impressive Act and Kevin Ryan’s We Never Stop by two lengths and a head.

The winner earned a 25-1 quote for the Coventry Stakes with Paddy Power, a race for which Kevin Stott looks likely to have the choice of a few.

Ffrench Davis said: “He ran a blinder at Newmarket and he’s such a laid back individual he was half-asleep that day.

“Today he was very different and I did think York might do that to him as they have to walk over the track and can get a little bit on their toes. I knew he’d cope with it, but he got a little bit warm.

“He was very professional in the race. Halfway through he switched off and Kevin wondered how well he was going, but he asked him to quicken and he was straight back on the bridle.

“He’ll get seven furlongs and he’s a lovely horse going forward. The team will have to decide about Royal Ascot, but he’d have to be in mind for the Coventry if there was bit of juice in the ground.”

Croupier (7-1) will head for the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot after putting a disappointing effort in the Lincoln well behind him when clinging on to win the Sky Bet Hambleton Handicap.

Simon and Ed Crisford’s four-year-old had got bogged down at Doncaster but was much more at home on ground which was quickening up all the time.

William Buick arrived on the inside travelling well at the two-furlong marker but was all out in the end to hold off Point Lynas and Thirsk Hunt Cup winner Northern Express by a head and a nose.

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained favourite Assessment burst through the stalls and had to be withdrawn.

Ed Crisford said: “It’s nice to see him bounce back as we ran him in the Lincoln on terrible ground. We probably shouldn’t have done that, but he’s bounced back today in good style.

“He’s a lovely horse. They went quite hard up front and William sat just off the pace and I thought he rode a very nice race.

“He travelled into it so well. I thought they were coming after him, but he kept finding more.

“We can head to the Hunt Cup now – that’s the plan. It should be a good race for him as a strong pace and a big field should suit.”

The Crisfords doubled up when 3-1 favourite Chesspiece won the Collective Green Energy Handicap under Ryan Moore.

“He did it very well. It was just the third race of his life and we always felt he wanted a step up in trip,” said Ed Crisford.

“We were a little worried about the ground but he went on a fine and he’s got a big future. I’d say the Queen’s Vase would be the plan as an extra two furlongs would suit him well.”

Regional continued trainer Ed Bethell’s excellent run of form with victory in the Lindum York Handicap.

The Middleham-based trainer had enjoyed winners at Nottingham, Haydock and Leicester in the past seven days and Regional was a 5-1 shot to add to his tally on his seasonal reappearance.

Ridden by Callum Rodriguez, the five-year-old was in front racing inside the final furlong and had enough up his sleeve to repel the slow starting but fast finishing Korker by half a length.

Bethell said: “It wasn’t the plan to make the running, but he’s a decent horse and always has been ever since we’ve had him.

“He came third in the Stewards’ Cup and has been unlucky in other handicaps. I’m just delighted for the guys that own him and he’s a fun horse for the summer.

“He ran off 100 in the Stewards’ Cup, I think that’s his mark in handicaps and I would think he will go to 104 or 105 after today. That makes life difficult, but there is the City Walls back here (a Listed race in August) and he’s shown me he’s electric today, which is something I didn’t think he was.

“I thought he would miss the break and finish, but he’s not missed the break, he’s made the running and shown me that he’s quick enough and talented enough to do it.”

Great State completed a hat-trick in fine style under Oisin Murphy to lift the laurels in the Listed British EBF 40th Anniversary Westow Stakes at York.

Michaela’s Boy set a furious clip under Freddie Larson, having broke smartly from the stalls in the five-furlong contest.

He was still in front with a furlong to race and despite drifting right, he stuck on well but had no answer to the Richard Fahey-trained winner (13-2), who picked up smartly on the stands rail.

The three-year-old grey, who had won at Southwell and Thirsk on his previous two starts, powered home to score by two and a half lengths from Pillow Talk, who pipped the long-time leader for third.

Fahey said: “We had a long discussion whether we kept this horse back for the sprint at Ascot (the Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes) because we do like the horse and it’s not very often you have a horse rated in the 90s that you think is well handicapped.

“He won’t be well handicapped any longer, but I’m delighted for Sheikh Sultan.

“He’s a real dude, very laid back and easy to deal with, he’s a pleasure to train and I’m delighted to have him.

“I was a little bit worried because he’d been running on the all-weather and won on very soft ground last time and it was quick ground today, so I had the excuse ready if he did get beat.

“He’s a talented horse, I’ll talk to Sheikh Sultan and decide where to go.”

Murphy was on board due to a suspension being served by Fahey’s stable jockey, Oisin Orr.

“Oisin Orr would have usually ridden him but unfortunately he’s suspended today, so I stepped in,” said Murphy.

“He’s a horse that I’m sure everyone at Musley Bank is very excited about. He’s an improver and he’s a lovely horse.

“He probably would enjoy more juice in the ground and he’d stay a little bit further as he was on his head in the middle part of the race, but he got going when they slowed down.

“He’s definitely a horse on the up.”

Passenger may yet throw his hat into the Derby ring after running with immense promise in defeat in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.

It was hard to know what the Ulysses colt had achieved in beating a field of fellow newcomers in the Wood Ditton at Newmarket, but it appeared significant connections decided him to supplement him for a Derby trial Sir Michael Stoute had already won on a record seven occasions, with Desert Crown doing the double just last season.

Punters on the Knavesmire ultimately agreed, with Passenger the 9-2 favourite by the time the gates opened. But what followed was a tale of woe for his supporters.

Ridden by Richard Kingscote, the Niarchos family-owned runner appeared to be travelling all over his rivals halfway up the home straight, but he could not find a gap for love nor money.

By the time Passenger did get a run, it was all too late, but there was much to like about the way he stayed on to dead-heat for third with Aidan O’Brien’s Continuous, beaten just a couple of lengths by eventual winner The Foxes.

While brief in his assessment of the performance, Kingscote immediately blamed himself, saying: “It was my fault, I couldn’t get him a run. It’s very frustrating.”

A decision on whether Stoute and the Niarchos family will roll the dice at Epsom on June 3 is made more complicated by the fact Passenger is not entered, meaning the owners will again have to stump up a supplementary fee, with the price for adding him to the Derby set at £85,000.

Paddy Power were impressed enough by his performance to make him an 8-1 shot like The Foxes, though, and connections ultimately have a couple of weeks to mull it over.

Stoute was not on the Knavesmire, but his assistant James Savage said: “It was a bit of a hard-luck story.

“He was in the stalls a long time, he jumped well and did everything brilliantly for a horse having only his second start after running on a straight mile at Newmarket.

“There’s a lot of positives to be taken out of the race. It didn’t happen for Richard up the straight, but that’s just one of those things.”

Interestingly, the only previous horse to be beaten in the Dante and win the Derby was the Stoute-trained Workforce in 2010.

When asked whether Passenger could bid to emulate the subsequent Arc hero, Savage added: “That is going to be a decision for Sir Michael and the Niarchos family. All I can say is that we’ve learnt he’s able to compete at a very high level with the best three-year-olds.

“I’m not so sure experience got him beat because if the gap had come he would have gone through it.

“He’s took a massive step forward from Newmarket to here and we’ll just see how he is.”

Alan Cooper, racing manager for the owners, said: “I’m afraid he didn’t have the clearest of runs, but it was a great improvement from his first start, so let’s get home and see what Sir Michael would like to do.

“He’s shown that he’s a good horse on only his second start. Let’s regroup.

“The family will follow Sir Michael’s advice.”

Splitting The Foxes and the third-placed pair of Passenger and Continuous was John Murphy’s Irish raider White Birch.

Winner of a heavy ground Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown on his seasonal bow, the grey proved he is equally effective on quicker conditions, charging home from the rear to be beaten only a neck.

Another son of Ulysses, White Birch does hold a Derby entry and appears bound for Epsom. He is 20-1 with Coral.

George Murphy, assistant to his father, said: “He ran a super race, quickened up really well and just bumped into one on the day, but we couldn’t be happier with the run.

“I think the horse himself thought he had it won and the winner just came from out of his vision, but we’re delighted.

“He’s a super mover and a big, powerful horse – ground doesn’t seem to bother him.

“We’ll take him home and see how he comes out of it, but I think he’s more entitled to take his chance in the Derby now. If the owners are happy to go there and he comes out of it well, I think he definitely deserves a crack at it.”

Roger Varian will use Friday’s Boodles Yorkshire Cup as a stepping stone for Eldar Eldarov’s Ascot Gold Cup bid.

Last season’s St Leger winner takes on six rivals in the Group Two contest as he bids to bounce back from a sub-par run in his sole start since, when beating just one rival home in Ascot’s Long Distance Cup.

He won the Queen’s Vase and the Doncaster Classic in both starts over a mile and three-quarters, and returns to that trip on the Knavesmire.

“He’s really doing well of late and has obviously been very good at both tries over this distance,” said Varian.

“We do see him being very effective when he races over Cup distances, but I think a mile and six furlongs is a good distance to start his season off at, and we hope he runs a good, solid race on Friday that means we can then take aim at the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

“We’ve got to see how he runs, but we would love to see a positive performance, win or lose. It looks a strong race, but he’s a horse we are looking forward to running and hopefully he can come out of the race giving us the collective opinion he can be a Gold Cup horse.”

In an interesting renewal, 2021 Ebor runner-up Quickthorn returns to the scene of last season’s 14-length Lonsdale Cup success for Hughie Morrison.

His trainer is hoping he can start to garner the plaudits he feels the Nathaniel gelding deserves, with Oisin Murphy retaining the ride as regular partner Tom Marquand is unavailable.

“It was a Flightline-type performance, but he didn’t get the Flightline-type recognition,” said Morrison.

“It might have been a once-in-a-lifetime performance, but I do think it was exceptional, and the disappointment was that neither Stradivarius nor Trueshan ran that day, because we’d have got the credit then.

“Coltrane obviously didn’t run to his best, but Quickthorn absolutely dominated him and I think if you look at the sectionals, he went fast all of the way.

“The ground had gone when he went to Longchamp, and it was the same story at Ascot. The year before he’d had enough by October, and I think that was probably a factor again, too.”

Morrison is keen for the habitual front-runner to replicate that form back down in distance after a somewhat disappointing sixth when taken on early in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan in March.

“As for Dubai, it wasn’t easy getting him out of a field in December to have him ready for a fast-ground race in Dubai that looked like a Group One three months later,” he added ahead of a race that forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series.

“He ran well, but the Godolphin team knew what they were up to and we weren’t going to get an easy ride. My concern is that I might have left my year behind in Dubai, but I’ve been perfectly happy with him at home.

“Tom Marquand couldn’t commit himself, so I made the decision to go for Oisin at the weekend.

“Oisin knows Quickthorn well and rode him in Dubai, as well as when he won twice two years ago, including at Royal Ascot.”

Broome flashed home to win the Dubai Gold Cup for trainer Aidan O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore, beating Godolphin’s reopposing Siskany, who was favourite for the principal staying race on World Cup night.

Siskany was successful at the 2022 Dubai Carnival and third in the Group One Grosser Preis von Bayern in Germany at the end of the season.

The Charlie Appleby-trained five-year-old easily won the Group Three Nad Al Sheba Trophy in February before being nabbed close home by Broome last time.

“Siskany put up a couple of decent performances at Meydan over the winter,” Appleby told

“We felt that the two miles of the Dubai Gold Cup was right at his limit and dropping back to a mile and six furlongs will help. He brings a nice profile into the race and conditions look there to suit, so we are expecting a big run.

Giavellotto, who was promoted to third in the St Leger after being badly hampered two furlongs out, has a bit to find with Broome and Siskany after subsequently finishing ninth in Meydan.

Trainer Marco Botti said: “I felt he was a bit unlucky in the St Leger. He’s a horse with a big stride and he was checked twice. For me he’d have been much closer otherwise.

“His preparation has gone well since Dubai, where things didn’t really pan out for him from a really wide draw and he ended up a bit too far back. It looks quite a competitive race but he stays well and he’s in good form. He’s in good shape and I’m pleased to see that the ground is drying out as I didn’t want to run him on really soft ground.

“He’s not in the Gold Cup, as that trip might stretch him and we don’t see it as the right race for him, but he has plenty of options.”

Last season’s Yorkshire Cup third Tashkhan is the only runner from a year ago to appear again, while Get Shirty completes the line-up.

Free Wind defied a 320-day lay-off to land the Group Two Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies’ Stakes at York under a fine ride from Frankie Dettori.

The John and Thady Gosden-trained four-year-old had been absent since winning the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock in July, but was a warm order for her return in the extended 10-furlong event.

Sent off the 6-5 favourite, she settled well and when asked to lengthen approaching three furlongs to run, she did so effortlessly.

As the run from long-time leader Aristia – carrying a Group One penalty – petered out, Free Wind hit the front soon enough and outsider Rogue Millennium loomed large on the outside under Jack Mitchell.

Though the pair came close when Free Wind edged right, Free Wind kept finding and after a stewards’ inquiry, the result – a half-length victory – stood.

Mon Na Slieve appears to have earned himself a place on Kevin Ryan’s Royal Ascot squad after making an successful start to his career in the British EBF 40th Anniversary Novice Stakes at York.

A field of seven juveniles went to post for the five-furlong contest, with Karl Burke’s unraced colt Kylian all the rage as the 11-10 favourite amidst positive pre-race chatter.

The Richard Hannon-trained Mashadi set the standard on form following a narrow defeat on his Newmarket debut 10 days ago – but while he and Kylian came to the fore, both were ultimately unable to land a glove on the impressive Mon Na Slieve.

The 190,000 guineas purchase was a 17-2 shot to provide Ryan with another win on a track where he has enjoyed plenty of success in the past and raced on the speed from flag-fall under Tom Eaves.

Mashadi emerged as his biggest threat racing inside the last of five furlongs, but Mon Na Slieve never really looked in any danger of being reeled in and had a length and three-quarters in hand at the line.

Kylian was a length and a half further behind in third.

Ryan said of the winner: “We loved him at the breeze-up so I spoke to Brendan (McDonald, owner) and said I really wanted him.

“Brendan and I go back a long time, he part-owned Amadeus Wolf and has had a few nice ones, so it’s nice to have another.

“I was pretty confident coming but I kept it low-key as you never really know with unraced two-year-olds.

“He’s so laid back and for a breezer he’s got a great mind, not that a lot don’t, the lads do a great job with them and he came highly recommended.

“He was bought to go to Ascot, he’s really sharp and he’s all five furlongs but he relaxes. He could have dropped him in but he’s so professional he was able to make it.”

Willie Mullins is preparing for a French foray at Auteuil this weekend as he ponders targeting Galopin Des Champs at the meeting in the future.

The trainer was once again crowned Irish champion for the 2022-23 season, as well as enjoying multiple victories at the major spring festivals.

Though both the Irish and English seasons ended last month and are in a relatively quiet spell as the Flat takes over, there are still significant prizes to be won across the Channel.

This weekend Auteuil hosts the Grand Steeple-Chase De Paris meeting and Mullins is sending a strong squad of nine runners.

Two of those travelling, Franco De Port and Carefully Selected, will contest the ‘Grand Steep’ itself, with other familiar names such as Kilcruit, Haut En Couleurs, Klassical Dream and Asterion Forlonge entered in the supporting events.

Mullins faces tough opposition in the headline contest as his nephew Emmet Mullins has entered 2022 Grand National hero Noble Yeats, but the race has long been an aim for the Carlow trainer and he is keen to take the trophy home at some point in his career.

“There’s a great challenge from Ireland this year with Noble Yeats, he’s my nephew’s horse and he’s going to put in a big show there,” he said.

“It’s something I want to win, I’ve been trying to look for a horse that’s good enough to win it.

“I should have probably targeted it before now because I have so many French horses,  I’m just going through my runners here and seven out of the nine horses are French.

“I should have done this before, however, we’ve always concentrated on Cheltenham and Punchestown, so to get one cherry ripe over this trip at the end of the season is a bit tougher.”

Auteuil was at one point the intended target for Galopin Des Champs, a fantastic winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup who then re-routed to the Punchestown Gold Cup where he was second.

Though his campaign eventually headed in a different direction, Mullins still has the meeting in mind for the French-bred chaser.

He said: “I’d love to bring Galopin Des Champs over and indeed he was probably en-route there, but after winning the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, we decided he’d probably better come back to Punchestown and after that I thought I should give him a break.

“He’s done everything right for us this season, possibly some other year we might bring him over. He’s a horse I’d love to see over there.”

Impressive Wood Ditton scorer Passenger is entrusted with upholding Sir Michael Stoute’s fine record in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.

Stoute has won the premier Betfred Derby trial seven times throughout his illustrious career and last year sent out Desert Crown to triumph on the Knavesmire before subsequently marching on to Epsom glory.

Now it is the turn of Passenger to stake his Classic claims, and having seen the rain scupper his intended outing at Chester last week, the Ulysses colt was supplemented into this Group Two event at a cost of £14,000.

“Passenger was a non-runner at Chester because of soft ground, but should have the perfect ground for him in the Dante,” said Alan Cooper, racing manager for owner the Niarchos family.

“It will be a big step up from the Wood Ditton, with the Dante being just his second start, and we will learn a bit more about him for the experience.

“It’s a stepping stone and we’ll see how he takes it, and Sir Michael will then make a plan afterwards. The hope is he is confirms the potential of the Wood Ditton and we can take it from there.”

John Gosden has won this three times in the past 10 years – including with Epsom hero Golden Horn – and alongside son Thady, will put Epictetus’ Derby credentials to the test following his success in the Blue Riband Trial last month.

“He won over a mile and a quarter in the Blue Riband on his last start and he steps up in trip this time. Hopefully the track and trip will suit him,” said Thady Gosden.

“He’s come out of Epsom really well and fingers crossed he will run a nice race again.”

James Ferguson’s Canberra Legend also has a victory in a key trial to his name, having taken the Feilden Stakes in fine style and the Kremlin Cottage handler is hoping this will give an indication as to how high he should aim the unbeaten son of Australia.

“He was impressive enough in the Feilden and has done everything right so far. He’s ticked all the boxes and his last piece of work was exactly what we wanted,” said Ferguson.

“We’re going there full of confidence, but with the understanding that it is another massive step up. It’s one of the top Derby trials and we’re up against some very good horses.

“Winning a Feilden at Newmarket gives us the confidence we have a good horse on our hands and this is about finding out about how good if everything goes right – whether it is Epsom, Ascot or France.”

Another heading to the Knavesmire with a perfect record is Aidan’s O’Brien’s Continuous, who won a Group Three in France on his final start at two and will bid to give his handler a fifth Dante as he reappears in the hands of Ryan Moore.

“This looks the most significant Derby trial so far in terms of depth,” Moore told Betfair.

“You can obviously make a case for a few given their unexposed profiles and I suppose none more so than Passenger, who impressed me when winning the Wood Ditton and comes here after being taken out of the Dee Stakes last week because of the ground.

“My colt Continuous is also unbeaten, as is the Feilden winner Canberra Legend, and he comes here in good shape, having showed a lot of ability and a very willing attitude when winning both of his races at two.

“He wouldn’t have the stamina-laden pedigree of some, but the way he won his Group Three in France over a mile in testing ground suggests this trip is well worth trying. I think he is decent, but we shall see. Ideally, he would prefer a bit of dig but good ground on a flat track like York should be fine.”

John Murphy’s Ballysax scorer White Birch is another making the trip from Ireland, having seen his Leopardstown form upheld by the runner-up at the Dublin track recently.

“He’s in super form. We couldn’t be happier with him and we’re looking forward to it,” said George Murphy, assistant to his father.

“This is a bigger test again and it will be good to see what White Birch can now do. It looks a very hot race on paper and everyone is going there thinking they have the winner. Hopefully he is good enough, but he is in good shape and we think he will run a big race.”

Charlie Appleby won the Dante with Hurricane Lane in 2021 and having seen Military Order fly to the top of the Derby betting when scoring at Lingfield on Saturday, now looks to add a second string to his Epsom bow with Flying Honours, who ended a fine juvenile campaign by winning the Zetland Stakes in October.

“Flying Honours was meant to run at Sandown last month, but the meeting was abandoned, so we took him for a racecourse gallop at Newmarket instead,” the Moulton Paddocks handler told

“We were very pleased with how that went and he goes into this in great order.

“We know that he gets this trip, having won the Zetland on his final two-year-old start, and feel that he has the scope to improve again as we step him up over further. It looks a competitive renewal of the Dante and whoever wins will be a leading player for the Derby.”

Andrew Balding’s The Foxes accounted for Flying Honours when claiming the Royal Lodge at two and made an encouraging return when second in the Craven Stakes last month. The Churchill colt could be suited by the step up to 10 furlongs, as could Roger Teal’s consistent Dancing Magic, who was a place behind in third at Newmarket.

A mile and a quarter could also play to the strengths of the King Of Steel, who created a taking impression on debut at Nottingham last year and was then been deemed good enough to take his chance in a Doncaster Group One shortly after.

He has since joined Roger Varian ahead of his Classic season and the Carlburg Stables handler believes he is giving all the right signals in his work at home.

He said. “He was impressive on his first start last year then he ran in the Group One at Doncaster.

“He has trained like a good horse all spring and we’re looking forward to running him.

“He’s a big horse but light on his feet and we’ll see how he measures up in the Dante, which will give us some direction whether he is an Epsom horse or a horse for one of those races at Royal Ascot.”

Burradon Stakes scorer Dear My Friend and Feilden third Killybegs Warrior both represent Charlie Johnston, while Karl Burke’s Liberty Lane completes the line-up, having chased home Waipiro at Newmarket.

There could be plenty of pace on show in York’s British EBF 40th Anniversary Westow Stakes where Rocket Rodney attempts to return to winning ways on reappearance.

Trained by George Scott, the speedy son of Dandy Man was an ultra-consistent performer last term, with the only blot on his copybook coming in his final outing of the year when making a raiding mission to France.

A Listed winner in the Dragon Stakes at Sandown last season, he also placed in a whole host of high-class five-furlong events, including when beaten a neck by Little Big Bear in the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot and runner-up in the Group Three Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood.

Scott reports his charge to have strengthened up from two to three and is eager to see if he retains all the sprinting attributes which made him so successful as a juvenile.

“He was a very capable two-year-old throughout last year and his final run didn’t reflect his season in any way, so we have got to put a line through that,” he said.

“I’ve been pleased with his work in the spring. He’s done very well physically from two to three, he hasn’t grown a huge amount but he’s definitely matured.

“I think there’s always a question mark over precocious two-year-olds that have had a relatively busy season as to how they train on, and you don’t know until they get to the track. But he’s ready to get started and I have a plan for him this season, and this is very much day one.

“It’s a track he has run well at and it looks a very sensible starting point for him. I would expect him to come on for the run, but he’s more than ready to do himself justice.”

David Loughnane’s Walbank was a place behind Rocket Rodney in third when the pair locked horns in the Molecomb last July, with the talented son of Kodiac finishing no worse than third in four outings during 2022 – a CV which also includes a silver medal in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.

His Goodwood outing was the final time he was sighted at two and the Amo Racing-owned colt returns following 295 days off the track at the scene of arguably his finest hour, on the course and distance over which he shed his maiden tag in fine style.

“He was a very good two-year-old,” said Loughnane. “He had a slight setback which took a bit of time and we’ve given him every chance. He’s come back a bigger horse and I’m pleased with him.

“He’s in good order and wears a tongue-tie first time, and obviously he’s going back to where he won his maiden and hopefully we get a similar result.

“He was just outside the time of the last five Nunthorpe winners – he was very impressive that day and the track definitely suits him. He’s a nice horse and one to look forward to.”

Kevin Ryan’s Silent Words went down by a head to the well-regarded Tajalla at Musselburgh earlier this month and is one of two for owners Clipper Logistics, alongside Karl Burke’s Pillow Talk, who won the Marygate Stakes over track and trip at this meeting 12 months ago.

Burke trained the one-two in this last year and is also represented by Looking For Lynda, with Richard Fahey’s hat-trick-seeking Great State and Declan Carroll’s unbeaten Changeofmind adding to the Yorkshire-trained challenge.

Meanwhile, Aidan O’Brien will bid to land a blow for Ireland with Hispanic. The son of No Nay Never won only one of his four starts last term, but showed plenty of class when doing so, romping to an eight-length victory at the Curragh.

“I haven’t sat on him in a race, but he stepped up well when fitted with blinkers at the back-end, winning by a wide margin at the Curragh and running OK in Listed company at Doncaster,” jockey Ryan Moore told Betfair.

“Hopefully he can progress this season and be suited by the better ground he will encounter here. He likes to get on with it and he can go a bit judged on his Curragh win.”

Rogue Spirit (Tom Clover), Katey Kontent (Clive Cox) and Michaela’s Boy (Mick Appleby) are the others engaged in the five-furlong contest.

Frankie Dettori’s farewell season continues to provide big-race winners and the Italian could have found himself the perfect partner for the Betfred Oaks as Soul Sister romped to Tattersalls Musidora Stakes victory at York.

A winner on debut at Doncaster at two, the John and Thady Gosden-trained daughter of Frankel was never involved in the Fred Darling when making her return to the track at Newbury last month.

However, she thrived for the step up to 10 furlongs in this renowned Epsom trial and having been ridden patiently as the main protagonists of Infinite Cosmos, Gather Ye Rosebuds and Novakai were all prominent in the early stages, no filly was travelling better as the runners straightened for home.

Still to ask his mount for maximum effort as the rest of the field came under a drive, Dettori soon pushed the button and the response was immediate with the 18-1 winner storming clear of her rivals to record a clear-cut four-length success.

The Gosdens and Dettori combined to win this with Emily Upjohn 12 months ago before being narrowly denied at Epsom and Soul Sister is now a 5-1 chance with Coral and 4-1 with both Betfair and Paddy Power to hit the target in the fillies’ Classic on June 2.

Dubai Gold Cup winner Broome will take on six rivals as he attempts to give Aidan O’Brien a first victory in the Boodles Yorkshire Cup on Friday.

So far, the Group Two York marathon has eluded the master of Ballydoyle, but he possesses a strong hand on this occasion, having seen his Royal Ascot winner thrive for the step up to two miles at Meydan where he downed the reopposing Siskany close to the finish.

Hughie Morrison’s Quickthorn could only finish sixth on that occasion, but was an emphatic 14-length winner on his last visit to the Knavesmire when he claimed the Lonsdale Cup.

Brian Ellison’s Tashkhan was amongst the beaten horses then and will try to improve on last year’s third in this race, while Roger Varian’s St Leger hero Eldar Eldarov has Ascot Gold Cup aspirations and will be looking to confirm Doncaster form over Marco Botti’s Leger third Giavellotto.

A cast of 10 potentially smart fillies go to post for the Oaks Farm Stables Fillies’ Stakes, where John and Thady Gosden’s Queen For You will attempt to build on a taking debut at Ascot.

Charlie Appleby’s Silver Lady also impressed on her racecourse bow, while similar sentiments apply to William Haggas’ Fakhama who triumphed at Newbury in April.

Ralph Beckett’s Juliet Sierra brings Group One form and experience to the table, with Stormy Sea and Orchid Bloom two others of note.

The other Listed action is the Clipper EBF Marygate Fillies’ Stakes that opens Friday’s card, and there could be could be plenty of pace on show as Newmarket one-two Persian Dreamer and Dorothy Lawrence lock horns once again.

The latter represents last year’s winning handler Karl Burke, who also runs Nottingham scorer Got To Love A Grey, while Persian Dreamer’s handler, Dominic Ffrench Davis, is double-handed as well with Treasure Storm, another last-time-out winner amongst the 10 declared.

Graceful Thunder gave owners Amo Racing their eighth juvenile winner from 19 runners when showing plenty of determination to land the Chasemore Farm British EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes at Sandown.

Trained by George Boughey, the daughter of Havana Grey knew her job on debut, breaking well under Kevin Stott in the five-furlong contest.

Though a little keen early from a wide draw, she settled and travelled well as Miss Show Off set the pace on the far rail.

Having hit the front inside the final furlong, the 7-2 shot was immediately challenged by Flora Of Bermuda, yet knuckled down well to score by a neck from long-time leader Miss Show Off, with Say Hello staying on in eyecatching fashion to snatch third, just a head further back.

Royal Ascot now beckons, as Boughey explained.

“She had only done two or three bits of work since she joined us, but she has pleased us with what she has done. It was not a huge surprise that she won, but we had not asked her any serious questions at home,” he said.

“Drawn where she was looked an inconvenience, but she jumped well from the gate and she showed a super attitude which is something Havana Grey seems to be putting into them.

“We could have gone for an easy option up north and won by four lengths, but these horses need to learn if they are going to go to the Royal meeting and she will have learnt more winning like that today.

“She looks to have plenty of pace and looks a five-furlong filly. We will take it one step at a time, but I’d say we will be looking at the Queen Mary with her and I don’t think there is any point seeing her again before that.”

Cinnodin (3-1) came from last to first under David Egan to take the Athlone Handicap.

Winner of two low-grade all-weather handicaps at Southwell and Wolverhampton, he was foiled by half a length in his hat-trick bid at Wetherby last time, but bounced back to winning ways in style for trainer Richard Hughes.

The 11-8 favourite Roost left his race at the start, when his head was caught over the adjacent stall and when finally extracted by Hector Crouch, his rivals had already gone almost a furlong ahead.

Steven Seagull set the pace before being passed by Enochdhu with two furlongs to race, but Cinnodin lengthened well and swept by to score going away by two and a half lengths.

Hughes said: “I don’t normally like going a mile and three-quarters with a three-year-old this early on, but he would get two miles tomorrow as he is an out-and-out stayer.

“He is pretty one-paced, but I think he will get quicker as he gets stronger. He was getting a stone off the top two, but at the same time I love the way he devoured the hill.”

Derby entrant Artistic Star showed a very willing attitude to take his record to two from two and enter the Epsom picture with victory in the Darley British EBF Novice Stakes at Sandown.

The Ralph Beckett-trained, Jeff Smith-owned Galileo colt was making his three-year-old bow after winning a Nottingham maiden in October.

Stepping up to a mile and a quarter from the extended mile of that run, he saw out every yard under Rob Hornby to readily hold off Torito by a length and a quarter as the the 9-4 favourite.

Beckett – who saddled Westover to be an unlucky-in-running third in last year’s Derby – said: “He is a smashing horse. He is a May 27 foal and he has only just been ready for this now.

“We will see how we go with him, but whatever we do next we will have a load of sport with him because he is still a horse in the making I feel.

“Jeff, David (Bowe, racing manager to the owner) and I will have a chat in a fortnight’s time and see how we feel.

“We wanted to go to Lingfield (for the Derby Trial) and that opportunity was taken away from us so this was a really good spot for him.”

As well as the Derby, the winner holds an engagement in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Beckett added: “It is not a bad shout, Ascot, as Jessie Harrington had the full-sister (Forbearance) and she was adamant she needed fast ground and so if we did get into our heat of summer the King Edward VII might seem like a target.

“I’d be a little bit concerned it is only two and a half weeks until Epsom and he might just bounce.”

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