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The UK has some of the best racing festivals in the world — Epsom, Ascot and Goodwood are three which spring to mind. Add in York in August where, if the pundits have got it right, the two best horses in the land, Baeedd and Desert Crown, could clash in the Juddmonte International.

The York meeting is always well attended, but if these two star racehorses turn up then the “house full” signs could go up. It’s something that hasn’t seemed possible since the Covid pandemic.

Desert Crown raced to a two and a half lengths win in Saturday’s Epsom Derby and — 24 hours later — Racing Post formed a jury of staff members to give their opinions on the performance.

Here they are:

David Carr: “Desert Crown has looked hugely promising ever since his winning debut at Nottingham and he has now emphatically delivered on that promise. He had looked the real deal when winning the Dante in a style that suggested there was plenty more to come.

“And he confirmed that impression at Epsom with a striking performance travelling like the best horse throughout and quickening clear in tremendous style. He will come on again and take a lot of beating over the middle distances. Wouldn’t it be fun to see him take on Baeedd in the Juddmonte.”

Graeme Rodway: “Without doubt, that’s how top class horses win the Derby. He travelled like a dream, quickened three furlongs out and went clear. Race over.

“Let’s not forget that most Sir Michael Stoute-trained horses improve with age and Desert Crown has only run three times. There is better to come from this lightly raced three-year-old who has the world at his feet.

“He’s the best horse in Britain and Ireland and, if he stays sound and continues his upward progression, he should sweep all before him.”

Matt Rennie: “The scary thought is that the Derby was only Desert Crown’s third start and more improvement is a near certainty. He looked a superstar in the flesh at the Dante meeting, with some immaturity, but his Derby win took him to the next level.

“It was a most professional performance and the sight of Richard Kingscote taking a pull two-and-a-half furlongs out was staggering.

“He looks miles clear of the older generation and races like the King George, Juddmonte and Arc are at his mercy. Dare I say it, he could be the best Derby winner since Sea The Stars.”

Former jockey, Bruce Raymond, racing manager for Saeed Suhail, owner of Desert Crown, said any decision regarding the colt’s next race would ultimately come from Stoute.

“The horse is fine, he’s come back and he’s eaten up and everything’s OK,” said Raymond.

“As for plans — he’s not in the Irish Derby but I’m sure he can come back to 10 furlongs. If you can go around Epsom, you can go around anywhere.”

He added that the win was a big boost for Sir Michael Stoute who won his first Derby with Shergar in 1981. “Everybody is probably more delighted for him than he’s for himself,” said Raymond.


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