Desert Crown justified the hype, crashing into favoritism for the Cazoo Derby with an authoritative three-and-a-quarter-length success under Richard Kingscote in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.
With ante-post favorite Luxembourg injured and few others making a deep impression in other trials, Desert Crown’s odds tumbled from 33-1 before the 2000 Guinea to 6-1 second-favorite behind Stone Age for the premier Classic on June 4 on the strength of his home reputation.
Winner of the Nottingham countries in November, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained son of Nathaniel had suffered a setback which had hampered his progress over the winter, yet only his second start he clearly laid down a marker with a smooth success on the Knavesmire.
Sent off the 7-2 joint-favorite, Desert Crown was allowed to lob along near the back of the eight-runner field as White Wolf set a good tempo, but once produced three furlongs out he quickened up well and lengthened clear to score with ease from market rival Royal Patronage.
Despite showing his inexperience, drifting towards the stands rail, they had plenty to spare at the end of the extended 10-furlong contest.
Bookmaker reaction for Epsom was immediate, with Betfair and Paddy Power making Desert Crown the 2-1 Derby favorite. Coral kept Stone Age as their 2-1 market leader ahead of the Desert Crown at 3-1.
Victory gave Stoute a seventh Dante success and he will now look to land the Derby for the sixth time.