Derby winners returning at four - does history say it's a good idea for Desert Crown?

Adayar (William Buick) wins the 1m 2f conditions stakesDoncaster 8.9.22 Pic: Edward Whitaker
Derby winner Adayar made a triumphant return as a four-year-old at Doncaster last seasonCredit: Edward Whitaker (

Desert Crown is the tenth Derby winner this century to race on at four but would be only the fourth to return with a win if successful.

Sir Michael Stoute used the Brigadier Stakes as the starting point for both Workforce, who won it, and North Light, who finished second - but what have previous Derby heroes achieved when brought back the following season?

High Chaparral (2003)

Did not return until August at four but landed the Royal Whip at the Curragh and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown before finishing third in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and dead-heating for the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

North Light (2005)

Beaten odds-on favourite on his return in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown and suffered a career-ending pelvic injury soon after.

Sir Percy (2007)

Finished fourth when sent off favourite for the Dubai Sheema Classic and was retired after finishing sixth in the Coronation Cup and Prince of Wales’s Stakes.

Workforce (2011)

Gave weight and a beating to his Brigadier Gerard rivals on his return but was then second in the Eclipse and King George and 12th in the Arc.

Ruler Of The World (2014)

Finished 13th in the Dubai World Cup but won the Prix Foy at Longchamp after a six-month break and was then ninth in the Arc.

Masar (2019)

Finished only fifth on his return from more than a year off in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and was retired after an odds-on last of six at Newmarket the following month.

Anthony Van Dyck (2020)

Returned with second place in a pandemic-transferred Coronation Cup at Newmarket. Later won the Prix Foy but suffered a fatal injury in the Melbourne Cup after finishing second in the Caulfield Cup.

Serpentine wins this year's Derby, the last to be run under the Investec banner
Serpentine: a wide-margin winner from the front of the 2020 DerbyCredit: Edward Whitaker

Serpentine (2021)

Beat only one home in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in May. Unplaced twice more before being gelded and sold to race in Australia.

Adayar (2022)

Off the course until September at four, when he easily beat two rivals at 2-7 in a conditions race at Doncaster before going on to finish second in the Champion Stakes at Ascot.

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David CarrReporter
Published on 24 May 2023Last updated 19:25, 24 May 2023