Desert Crown to make return at Racehorse Lotto Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown
Desert Crown is all set for his highly-anticipated comeback in the Racehorse Lotto Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown on Thursday evening. The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Derby hero has been seen just three times in his career, but has made a huge impression regardless. He won a maiden on debut and then took last year's Dante at York en route to a memorable victory in the premier Classic itself. Injury curtailed his season after his two-and-a-half-length victory in the blue riband, however, and Sandown's Group Three event is his first run since that memorable day last June. Despite an absence of 355 days, Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Saeed Suhail, is expecting the Nathaniel colt's unbeaten status to be maintained. He said: "I'm more than hopeful. It would be a huge upset were he to be beaten. "Of course, they can all be beaten, but I don't expect him to be. "Michael is definitely 100 per cent happy with him, he's fine, he's working good and while there's enough improvement to come, he's fit enough to do himself justice. "He was so impressive in the Derby. The race was over two out." Stoute, too, expressed his satisfaction at how his star has done in the build-up to his return. He said: "Desert Crown has progressed well over the last few weeks, and it will be good to get him back to work." The same owner and trainer will also be represented by Solid Stone, a Group winner in his own right who will set the pace for his stablemate. "We've got a pacemaker in Solid Stone to make sure it's not a crawl," said Raymond. "He leads him in all his work and he didn't run at Chester recently just so he could run in this." Also on the comeback trail is Owen Burrows' Hukum, an impressive winner of the Coronation Cup at Epsom last season before injury struck. His career looked to be in jeopardy but he has been rehabilitated and returned to training, with the Sandown contest coming nearly a year since his last run. But Burrows is mindful of the conditions in Esher and if the ground is too quick, Hukum will not be risked ahead of his Royal Ascot target, the Hardwicke Stakes. "We've been really pleased with him, obviously it's a very tough race!" said Burrows. "Timing-wise it really works out, it slots in well with the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot as a prep run. "Fingers crossed he can show his old enthusiasm, run a nice race and get his season on track. "Myself and Richard Hills (of owners Shadwell) are going to walk the track beforehand, I've been liaising with Andrew Cooper, the clerk, and he normally does a great job. "I just don't want to run him for the first time in the year on fast ground and it's an evening meeting, so there's plenty of time throughout the day for it to dry out.
"We'll just be taking a look to make sure we're happy." Adding further spice is David Simcock's Cash, who was just a short head behind Westover in the Classic Trial over course and distance last year, while Jane Chapple-Hyam's Claymore is a Royal Ascot winner and Keith Dalgleish's Chichester was last seen finishing second at the All-Weather Championships at Newcastle on Good Friday.
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