Desert Crown, Michael Stoute
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Pinstickers’ guide to the Epsom Derby: All 17 runners rated

| 03.06.2022

Pinstickers’ guide to the Derby

Desert Crown is the 7/4 favourite to win Saturday’s Epsom Derby which this year will be run in memory of the late Lester Piggott.

We have produced a pinstickers’ guide to the Epsom Derby and rated all 17 runners for the Classic, Britain’s richest flat race, and you can also read about recent trends.

Changingoftheguard (Aidan O’Brien) Rating (out of 10) 8


Shed his maiden tag in good style at Dundalk, before showing that performance was no fluke with a clear-cut victory in the Group Three Chester Vase. His trainer has a phenomenal record in this race and it would be foolish to underestimate this son of Galileo.

Desert Crown (Sir Michael Stoute) 10

The pre-race favourite for the Derby must have a fine chance of giving his legendary trainer a sixth victory in the premier Classic. The Nathaniel colt burst onto the scene at Leicester last November and confirmed all of the early-season whispers to be true with a faultless victory in the Dante at York.

He looks to have all the required attributes to thrive at Epsom and only a lack of experience could stand between him and Derby glory.

El Habeeb (Stan Moore) 1

The rank-outsider of the field and one who was supplemented into the race on the back of just one racecourse appearance when he was beaten eight lengths and finished fifth in a Newmarket Listed contest. A win would be one of the biggest shocks in Derby history.

Glory Daze (Andy Oliver) 3

He kept on well to be second to Stone Age in Leopardstown’s Derby Trial Stakes last time and shaped as if the move up to 12 furlongs would suit. Nevertheless, he looks to have a stiff task on his hands.

Grand Alliance (Charlie Fellowes) 5

Headed into Epsom’s Blue Riband Trial searching for a hat-trick following novice and handicap wins and let nobody down by finishing second to Godolphin’s Nahanni. His owner is local to Epsom and a victory for this Churchill colt would make a fine story, but others look much more likely.

Hoo Ya Mal (Andrew Balding) 2

Won the Convivial Stakes at York last year, but that remains his sole career success. Although he has acquitted himself respectably in some hot contests of late, he looks below the level required to land this.

Masekela (Andrew Balding) 5

Highly-tried at two and produced some fine performances both in victory and defeat. Finished second behind Eydon in his sole start this season, before being withdrawn at the start of the Dante most recently and is perhaps an unknown quantity.

Nahanni (Charlie Appleby) 6

It is hard to argue with a run of three straight victories which culminated with a track success in the Blue Riband Trial. He represents last year’s winning trainer and has already proved he can handle the tight turns and undulations of Epsom.

Nations Pride (Charlie Appleby) 8

A winner of four of his five racecourse appearances, the Teofilo colt could be Appleby’s best chance of getting his hands on the Derby trophy for the third time. Supplemented into the race at a cost of £75,000, he was an impressive seven-length winner of the Listed Newmarket Stakes in April and a reproduction of that form would put him right in the mix.

Piz Badile (Donnacha O’Brien) 9

Piz Badile

One of the leading Irish contenders, connections decided to keep their powder dry and wait for the premier Classic following a winning reappearance in the Ballysax Stakes. Frankie Dettori has been snapped up to take the ride and he looks sure to be thereabouts at the business end.

Royal Patronage (Mark and Charlie Johnston) 5

A three-time winner at two, he was successful at Epsom and is the only horse to beat 2000 Guineas winner Coroebus when taking the Royal Lodge. Disappointed in the Guineas, but back on track when second behind Desert Crown in the Dante.

Sonny Liston (Charlie Hills) 6

Has failed to land a knockout blow in his two starts so far at three, but offered enough encouragement following a troubled passage at Chester last time to suggest he could be a lively outsider stepping up in trip.

Star of India (Aidan O’Brien) 7

An easy winner of the Dee Stakes at Chester, he is another son of Galileo to earn himself a place on Aidan O’Brien’s Derby team. His flashier stablemates may appear stronger on paper, but this colt is dangerous to overlook.

Stone Age (Aidan O’Brien) 9

Aidan O'Brien, Stone Age

The standout Ballydoyle candidate, who has thrived so far in his three-year-old campaign and looks best placed to give O’Brien his ninth Derby success. A commanding winner at Leopardstown, there could be much more to come stepping up to a mile and a half and he is the obvious choice of jockey Ryan Moore.

Walk of Stars (Charlie Appleby) 4

Returned with battling victory at Newbury, but showed he still had plenty to learn when second behind United Nations at Lingfield. Last year’s winner Adayar filled the same slot in that race before triumphing at Epsom, but this tough track will ask plenty of questions of the son of Dubawi.

Westover (Ralph Beckett) 7

Another who has been kept in reserve since making a successful reappearance in Sandown’s Classic Trial. A big, imposing colt, he caught the eye during a racecourse gallop at Epsom – a spin which should have put him spot on for a tilt at the Classic.

West Wind Blows (Simon and Ed Crisford) 5

Something of a wildcard entry, he is both unbeaten but yet to race outside of novice company, so it is difficult to truly gauge the ability of this son of Teofilo. A clear winner at Nottingham, he is bred to both get further and be a Pattern-class performer, making him an intriguing runner.


Aidan O’Brien has a typically strong hand and Stone Age is the clear pick of his team following a convincing win in Leopardstown’s Derby Trial. The Ballydoyle battalion also includes Chester winners Star Of India and Changingoftheguard, who cannot be ruled out, while Donnacha O’Brien’s Piz Badile has the capability to play a hand in the finish for the Irish raiders and is the mount of Frankie Dettori.

The supplemented Nations Pride is best placed to enhance Charlie Appleby’s Derby record from his trio, but it is DESERT CROWN that ticks the most boxes as he bids to give Sir Michael Stoute a sixth win in the premier Classic. The son of Nathaniel was ultra-impressive when making it two from two in the Dante and the way he hit the line on the Knavesmire suggests he will only get better as he steps up to a mile and a half.

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Warren Barner