Reports25 May 2023

'I'm a little bit speechless' - Hukum swoops late to deny Derby hero Desert Crown

Hukum (right) denies Desert Crown (left) in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown
Hukum (right) denies Desert Crown (left) in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at SandownCredit: Alan Crowhurst

Owen Burrows was left struggling for words when stable star Hukum made a triumphant return from injury to deny Desert Crown in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes.

It was a first start in 356 days for the Shadwell-owned six-year-old, who sustained a potentially career-ending hind-leg fracture during his victory in last year's Coronation Cup at Epsom, but he showed no ill effects to reel in last year's Derby hero and score by a half-length. 

"I'm a little bit speechless," Burrows said. "A furlong down I was pleased, I thought he'd got stuck in a bit of a pocket and we were going to run on and finish second. I would have been chuffed with that.

"I've always said he's not a slow horse, he's always shown speed at home but it's amazing that he just seems to have a bit more this year.

"Plenty come back from that kind of injury but he was a five-year-old when it happened and I honestly didn't think it would be in the realm of possibility he would. Sheikha Hissa very sportingly said if his rehab goes well then he could return, so fair play to her."

While Hukum's return to action was delayed a week from Burrows' preferred return at Newbury last Saturday, success in Sandown's Group 3 contest has kept the son of Sea The Stars in line for the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. Betfair Sportsbook and Paddy Power also cut him to 14-1 (from 25) for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on October 1.

"The decision to wait a week looks great now, doesn't it?" Burrows added. "I just felt he needed a couple of gallops last week and I didn't want him coming here too fresh. 

"This was always our prep run for the Hardwicke. It's vital that he has good ground though. We'll have to have a bit of a rethink maybe but at the moment I don't see plans changing. 

"He was my first Group 1 winner – I'll find it hard to replace him when the time comes. He's been an absolute star for the whole team."

Desert Crown: beaten at odds of 2-5 on his return
Desert Crown: beaten at odds of 2-5 on his returnCredit: Edward Whitaker

Desert Crown, who was sent off the 2-5 favourite and also returned from a similarly long lay-off after picking up a foot injury last season, suffered his first career defeat despite hitting a low of 1.09 in-running on the Betfair Exchange. 

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt was pushed out from 9-2 to 11-2 by most bookmakers for the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot next month. 

Stoute said: "He's a little ring-rusty. He had his race won and he's just tied up a little in the closing stages. It's been a year off, that's a long time."

Bruce Raymond, racing manager to Desert Crown's owner Saeed Suhail, added: "We are pleased despite the result. He's travelled beautifully into it. He doesn't know the winner is behind him and he's done everything bar win. He's going improve from it, that goes without saying."

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Catherine MacraeReporter
David GriffithsReporter
Published on 25 May 2023Last updated 08:17, 26 May 2023