DESERT Crown was an impressive winner in the hands of Richard Kingscote who, only his second start in the Epsom classic, rode the contours of the Surrey track to perfection to hand Sir Michael Stoute a sixth Derby victory last Saturday.
As at York, Desert Crown (118+) was swiftly away from the stalls, so was always in the ideal place behind the gallop set by Changingoftheguard before striking for home passing the three-furlong marker.
However, the astute manoeuvre performed by Richard Kingscote to use Stone Age as a barrier to prevent Westover from securing a run was as much the winning of the race as his partner’s impressive burst of speed.
A closing sectional of 34.86secs was achieved courtesy of a hands-and-heels ride from Kingscote with the telling furlong being the run to the two-furlong pole which the son of Nathaniel covered in 11.27secs. That furlong could have been faster still without the slight pause as he passed Stone Age.
To offset the faster part of the closing sectional, the winner covered the final furlong in 12.18secs, which was by far the slowest of the main protagonists.
If viewed in isolation, the sectional times show Westover (115+) to be a most unfortunate loser as he powered home through the final furlong in 11.74secs and would no doubt have improved on his final three-furlong split of 35.27secs if gifted a smoother passage.
However, it is worth noting Rob Hornby was certainly more animated than Richard Kingscote in the saddle as the field entered the closing sectional.
My suggestion would therefore be the Westover was unlucky not be second, and the winner would still have held sway courtesy of his sharper turn of speed if allowed to travel deeper into the race.
The Curragh beckons for Westover and compensation surely awaits Ralph Beckett’s colt if Desert Crown is not supplemented.
I would expect the winner to be equally, if not, more effective over 10 furlongs so races like the Coral-Eclipse look as equally appetising as the King George.
The training award for the race belongs to Andrew Balding whose Hoo Ya Mai (115+) and Masekela (108) finished second and fourth respectively having raced further off the pace.
David Probert, aboard the first named, contributed to Rob Hornby’s woes as he seized the inside route which momentarily opened for Westover and he completed his closing sectional in an identical time to the winner.
Masekela came home in 35.71secs, with his closing furlong of 12.48secs suggesting he may not have fully seen out the trip on the day.
I would also suggest Stone Age (105) was a non-stayer as he dropped from a 12.03secs penultimate furlong to complete his race in 13.12secs as he lost the battle of Ballydoyle to Changingoftheguard (107).
Best on the day
Earlier on the card, the victory for Bashkirova (120) in the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes was the pick of the times on the day from a combined overall race time and closing sectional perspective.
Tom Marquand produced a strong finish from his filly to prevail by a length-and-a-quarter posting a closing sectional of 33.80secs in the process.
Potapova (118+) completed the forecast for owners Cheveley Park Stud after leaving her winning chance behind at the stalls.
Sir Michael Stoute’s filly finished off faster than the winner stopping the clock at 33.47secs for her sectional, despite not looking at ease on the Epsom camber.
Roman Mist (117) and Statement (114) also enhanced their profiles and will be better suited by a more conventional track. There was nothing to choose between their closing efforts as they both covered the ground from the three-furlong marker in 33.90secs.
Megallan (118) was an all-the-way winner in the Diomed Stakes which completed the Group 3 action on the card.
Frankie Dettori made best use of his track position in the extended mile contest and needed to as his pursuers all closed off faster than the Anthony Oppenheimer-owned colt.
The winner recorded a closing sectional of 34.05secs compared to Modern News (117) 33.90secs and Mutasaabeq (116) 33.74secs, although in truth the winner always looked in control.
In an honest interview post-race, John Gosden expressed the view his colt is at his best at up to a mile and a furlong, rather than stretching out to 10 furlongs as has been attempted in the past. The form book supports this view as the son of Kingman boasts a record of 221211 at the trip when encountering good or faster ground.
The final race to highlight on the day is the mile-and-a-half handicap won for the second successive year by Midnights Legacy (106).
Alan King’s dual-purpose performer produced the best finishing effort of the middle-distance performers, stopping the clock at 33.79secs. If avoiding fast ground, the five-year-old can be followed in similar handicaps.
The last gasp defeat was cruel on Haliphon (106) who posted 33.86secs for his concluding sectional and remains unexposed for Ian Williams, while Soapy Stevens (100) was going on again at the finish and can reward support when stepped back up in trip.