Derby hero Desert Crown loses out to Hukum on his return on blockbuster card at Sandown

HUK me – this wasn’t in the script.

In the battle of the returning stars it was Hukum, not Desert Crown, who came out on top at Sandown.

PAHukum swooped late to beat Derby winner Desert Crown on his return[/caption]

Both horses were winners at the top-level at Epsom just under a year ago… but neither of them had been seen since.

Expectations heading into the Brigadier Gerard Stakes were that the Derby hero Desert Crown would win easily before having his sights raised at Royal Ascot.

His 2-5 starting price showed there was plenty of confidence behind him, and for 90 per cent of the race it looked well placed.

The four-year-old cruised up on the outside of the classy field under Richard Kingscote, but he found it hard work to get past the vastly-inferior Cash.

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He started to get the wobbles with the line in sight and it left the door open for Hukum, who didn’t need a second invitation to barge through and nick it close home.

Desert Crown was still blowing several minutes after the race and will surely improve for the run. 

That, too, was the opinion of his legendary trainer Sir Michael Stoute, who still has an eye on the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes next month for which he was unchanged at 5-1.

This was no fluke, though, and the victorious Owen Burrows was understandably chuffed to claim a big scalp with his stablestar, who will have plenty of big targets of his own.


He said: “He looks as though he has developed a bit more speed this year which is very exciting.

“We gave him a couple of proper gallops last week because he was so well I didn’t want him to be too fresh coming here.

“We were only a pound below Desert Crown on ratings but he was an unexposed Derby winner so it’s a big effort from our horse to come back and beat him.”

Earlier on the card, Elite Status won by the length of Esher high street in the National Stakes.

Trainer Karl Burke reckons the two-year-old could be a “superstar” and Coral make him the 5-2 favourite for next month’s Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Burke grinned: “He is an incredibly exciting horse and I would like to think he can go to the very top.”

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