STUNNING DERBY winner Desert Crown’s next target is most likely to be the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic on next year’s Dubai World Cup programme. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute to win the Epsom Classic, Desert Crown has been racing against time to recover from a foot injury and start preparations for a tilt at either the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe or the Champion Stakes.

But things haven’t gone absolutely according to plan for the Saeed Suhail-owned 3yo Nathaniel colt and connections are not keen on rushing him back to action, with his owner’s racing manager Bruce Raymond hinting the team was looking to have him ready for a crack at the Sheema Classic on 25 March. Raymond said: “It’s healing well, it’s a minor injury, but enough to stop Sir Michael preparing him for the midsummer races.

“We were hoping to get him back for the backend, for the Arc or the Champion Stakes, but that’s in Sir Michael’s hands, it depends how things go. “I must stress it is a minor injury. The difficulty is would he have time to prepare him which probably is doubtful. “I’m 100% confident he will definitely be back next year. I don’t know what the programme is, but I know Saeed would like to take him to Dubai for the Sheema Classic, that would be up to Saeed and Sir Michael.

“The trouble with the Sheema Classic is while it has a lot of kudos over there, you miss so many early season races as you have to give them a good break after it, which is ok if you win. Saeed is looking towards Dubai and I’m pretty confident he’ll get there.” Red hot to win the Derby, Desert Crown peaked at Epsom delivering victory by two and a half lengths from Hoo Ya Mal.

It was his third career start and he remains unbeaten, having won the Dante Stakes at York three weeks prior, a race that came 190 days after he debuted with victory in a maiden event at Nottingham in November 2021, his only run as a juvenile. Desert Crown was due to race in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes last month before he met with a setback.