Desert Crown is poised to return from his latest injury setback in Saturday’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes as last year’s Derby winner is one of 15 confirmed for the £1.25million Ascot contest.
Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, the son of Nathaniel stormed to Classic glory at Epsom in 2022 before spending almost a year on the sidelines and made his return in the Brigadier Gerard in May where he finished second to Owen Burrows’ reopposing Hukum.
A further setback ruled him out of an intended Royal Ascot engagement but having worked on the Limekilns gallop at Newmarket on Sunday morning, he is now on course for a belated appearance at the Berkshire track in search of one of the season’s most prestigious prizes.
“He’s going OK. He worked yesterday morning and he worked nicely,” said Bruce Raymond, racing manager for owner Saeed Suhail.
“He doesn’t do a lot now, but everyone was very pleased. It was good to see him on the grass.”
There could be a rematch of this year’s Derby as Roger Varian’s Royal Ascot scorer King Of Steel will attempt to gain his revenge over his Epsom conqueror Auguste Rodin.
The dual-Classic winner is one of six in the mix for Aidan O’Brien, who could also be represented by Luxembourg, Point Lonsdale, Adelaide River, Broome and Bolshoi Ballet.
Defending champion Pyledriver will bid to enhance his fine Ascot record having landed the Hardwicke Stakes following almost a year off the track during the Royal meeting, while John and Thady Gosden’s Eclipse runner-up and Coronation Cup champion Emily Upjohn adds further spice to a race which looks like being a high-class renewal of the 12-furlong showpiece.
Others bringing strong form to the table include Ralph Beckett’s Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner Westover and Stephane Wattel’s French raider Simca Mille, while William Haggas’ recent York scorer Hamish and James Ferguson’s Deauville Legend complete the line-up.