Connections are willing to bide their time after Passenger served a reminder of his quality to give Sir Michael Stoute his 10th win in the Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor.

Owned by the Niarchos family, the son of Ulysses was considered a Derby contender earlier this season and was supplemented for the premier Classic after backing up an impressive debut in the Wood Ditton by finishing third in the Dante at York – a race where many saw the colt as the moral winner following a luckless run on the Knavesmire.

Off the track since disappointing at Epsom, Passenger was dropped back to 10 furlongs for the Windsor Group Three on Saturday evening and showed his class when hitting the front approaching a furlong out in the hands of Richard Kingscote and knuckled down to hold off the challenge of Simon and Ed Crisford’s West Wind Blows.

“We were happy with his performance after a nice break,” said Alan Cooper, racing manager for the owners.

“He’s a Group winner now and hopefully will have learnt a lot from the race.

“It’s too soon to speak about plans and we’ll take our time and go from there.”

In winning the Winter Hill Stakes, Passenger went one better than his illustrious sire who was beaten a short head in the race in 2016.

Like Passenger, Ulysses was both trained by Stoute and contested the Derby during his three-year-old season and having gone on to strike twice at the highest level the following year, it provides plenty of optimism his talented son could follow in his footsteps and still have his best days ahead of him.

“I think it’s a good point and there are definitely similarities in their race programme, the sire and him,” continued Cooper.

“It’s a case of seeing what Sir Michael would like to do. He’ll take his time and nothing is set in stone.

“He’s a horse that has done very well this year and hopefully he will also have a very good year next year.

“He’s a 10-furlong horse that’s for sure. The Dante form is working out well and it is always good to have form working out.”

Connections of Passenger will bide their time before making any plans for the colt, who is back in work following a break.

Trained by Sir Michael Stoute and owned by the Niarchos family, the three-year-old son of Ulysses flashed plenty of ability in three runs this term.

A late developer, he saw the racecourse for the first time in April and powered to a three-length victory in the Wood Ditton, a maiden over mile at Newmarket.

Withdrawn from the Dee Stakes at Chester due to soft ground, connections paid £14,000 to supplement the colt into the Group Two Dante at York.

Though keen early in the extended 10-furlong contest, he finished an unlucky-in-running third to The Foxes, beaten a length and a half.

Supplemented for the Betfred Derby at a cost of £85,000 just days before the Epsom Classic and bidding to give the trainer and jockey Richard Kingscote a second successive victory in the blue riband after Desert Crown last June, he was keen again and did not see out the mile-and-a-half trip, eventually finishing 12th of the 14 runners.

Alan Cooper, racing manager to the Niarchos family, said he is likely to revert back to 10 furlongs for the time being.

He said: “Passenger is very well and has come back into work after his race in the Derby, and Sir Michael will make a programme in due course.

“He said that he is now back in work and is very happy with him.

“I think the targets will be clarified when he is ready to run, but I think they are more likely to be over 10 furlongs than 12 furlongs.

“It is way too early to speculate (on any targets). He is a lovely horse and we will give him all the time to mature and then go from there. Good ground is what he would want. He wouldn’t want heavy ground.

“He had three races in quick succession, so the decision was taken to give him a bit more time.”

Passenger will attempt to give the Niarchos family the victory every owner-breeder craves when he lines up in the Betfred Derby on Saturday.

They have twice gone close in the Epsom showpiece, with Main Sequence finishing runner-up in 2012 and, delving deeper into the archives, the Vincent O’Brien-trained Law Society finding only a magnificent Slip Anchor too good on the day in 1985.

Law Society would go on to get his Classic redemption by winning the Irish Derby later that summer, but it is Epsom that matters most for Passenger and his connections as the Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt seeks to become the first horse unraced at two to win the showpiece middle-distance event since Ruler Of The World 10 years ago.

“The Derby is a race I think every owner and breeder would like to win as it is the biggest test of a three-year-old colt,” said Alan Cooper, racing manager for the family.

“I think Passenger has a nice draw in the middle of the field in seven and I guess we will know more at (around) 1.35pm on Saturday. Sir Michael is happy with his horse.”

If Passenger is to prove successful in his quest for Derby glory, he will justify the decision to spend £85,000 to supplement the son of Ulysses following his luckless run in the Dante at York.

He would become just the third supplemented horse to prevail in the premier Classic following Kris Kin and Golden Horn, but it is somewhat fitting that the first of those was also trained by Stoute. And while only third on the Knavesmire, Passenger follows the Freemason Lodge handler’s well-trodden route to Epsom.

Cooper continued: “It was a good education for him at York, it was only his second run and he will have learnt a little more about racing. Hopefully that will stand him in good stead on Saturday.

“The trip is the unknown as he has never been that far before, but he’s given us every indication he can do. We will not know for certain until he tries.”

If Military Order can replicate brother Adayar and storm to Derby glory for Charlie Appleby it will be the first time in over a hundred years that full siblings have landed the three-year-old event.

Persimmon (1896) and Triple Crown winner Diamond Jubilee (2000) were the last to achieve that remarkable feat, but it would be no shock if history is repeated with the Frankel colt advertising his Epsom credentials to great effect when pulling away from the reopposing Waipiro to claim the Lingfield Derby Trial.

“We’ve done nothing extra with him since his win at Lingfield and he has just been going through his usual routine,” said Appleby.

“We have been pleased with his preparation and he has ticked every box. He is going into the race looking great.

“We know he will stay the trip and hopefully he should handle the track, but we all know in any of these races we need a bit of Lady Luck with us then we have half a chance.”

On following in Adayar’s footsteps he added: “He is always going to be going there with the tag as being a Derby winner’s full-brother so everyone is going to ask the questions of is he as good and where does he stand compared to him.

“At the end of the day one has been there and done it and one has to go and do it. All I can say is that we are very pleased with him.

“He looks as though he is physically potentially more there and mentally more there than Adayar at this stage of his career, but regardless of that Adayar went and won a Derby and this lad has got to go and do it now.”

Another with two Derby victories to his name is John Gosden, who now trains out of Clarehaven alongside son Thady.

It is eight years since he legged up Frankie Dettori to steer home Golden Horn and he will now provide the Italian with his final mount in the premier Classic when Chester Vase scorer Arrest looks to give both trainer and jockey Derby number three.

“He’s got the stamina, to do what he did at Chester in ground like that shows he’s got the stamina, no problem,” said Gosden.

“Stamina is a requirement in this race, the same for the Kentucky Derby going a mile and a quarter for the Americans, they see it as a marathon.

“Stamina-wise you never really know until you go the mile and a half, you really don’t. Everybody thinks this is a downhill track, but it’s uphill, it rises 150 feet before you start going downhill, then you have a last section which climbs before the finish and it can catch a lot out on stamina.”

Despite saddling both Khalifa Sat (2020) and Hoo Ya Mal (2022) to finish second, Andrew Balding is still searching for his first Derby and will look to break his duck with The Foxes who arrives on the back of winning the Dante.

“I thought he was really good in the Dante,” said Balding. “I thought he travelled like the best horse in the race and he finished off strong. He is not a horse that is going to win by large margins, but he is tough in the finish.

“The way he settled at York and the way he travelled and the way he finished his race gives us hope that he will stay a mile and a half.

“Epsom this year could be different to other years if we are led to believe what we read that there might be disruptions going on, but I think he is going to be less bothered about what is going on than other horses we have run in the race in the past.”

Some would class Ralph Beckett as unfortunate not to have a Derby to his name after Westover was an unlucky loser behind Desert Crown 12 months ago, but he will attempt to correct the record with the unbeaten Artistic Star, who runs in the colours of owner Jeff Smith.

“Artistic Star is a grand, straightforward horse,” said the Kimpton Downs handler.

“He was quite a late foal and he’s going to carry on developing through the year, but I sincerely hope and suspect that he’ll cope with the whole jamboree, as he’s a very hardy horse.

“Whether he’s good enough I don’t know, but Jeff likes his trainers to be on the front foot and he ran to a good figure at Sandown last time. He’s not a big horse and he’s well balanced, so he should go round Epsom all right. It looks quite open so I’m looking forward to it.”

Jessica Harrington has won Classics on home soil and a Cheltenham Gold Cup, but never a Derby and she hopes to change that with Sprewell – the impressive winner of Leopardstown’s Derby Trial.

The man in the saddle on that occasion was Shane Foley and he is confident son of Churchill can make his presence felt.

He said: “He was very impressive in Leopardstown and has been pleasing us at home. The dream is definitely alive.

“Anything he did as a two-year-old was going to be a bonus and we were lucky to get a couple of runs into him.

“He has really developed into a proper staying three-year-old and is a good horse.

“If there is anyone that can have them primed and ready for the day, it’s Jessie. The trip should be fine for him – I think he’ll get a mile and a half no problem. To get a horse like him is what all the early mornings are about.

“It looks one of the most open Derbys in a long time and it’s great to have one in the mix.”

Another jockey looking forward to the biggest ride of his career is Derby debutant Danny Muscutt who will continue his association with the staying-on Guineas fifth Dubai Mile having landed the first Group One of his career aboard Charlie Johnston’s colt at Saint-Cloud in October.

“We were happy with him going into the Guineas and he ran a stormer,” said Muscutt.

Some people say the Guineas is the best Derby trial of the lot and it probably fitted in slightly better than the Dante where he would have had a penalty.

“I was pleased with how he stuck on up the rising ground and he galloped out really good.

“The dip at Newmarket can catch some horses out, but he has handled it great both times so he ticks the boxes regarding being able to handle the undulations and downhill run to Tattenham Corner.”

Ante-post favourite Military Order leads 16 contenders for Saturday’s Betfred Derby at Epsom, with Passenger the sole supplementary entry.

Representing Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby, Military Order booked his place in the Classic line up with a comfortable trial success at Lingfield and he is the only contender for his handler, who has won the race twice with Masar (2018) and Adayar (2021).

“From the team’s point of view, we’re very happy with him. He came out of his Lingfield Derby Trial win very well and we’ve been very pleased with him since,” Appleby told

“He’s improving week on week physically, and we can’t fault him to date on what he has been doing in his work and on the racecourse. He goes out and gets the job done in the mornings without being flash.

“He’s a mile-and-a-half horse, so you don’t expect flashy work. That hasn’t changed from his two-year-old days and I wouldn’t expect it to change.

“Military Order, like his brother Adayar, goes out and gets the job done.”

Sir Michael Stoute saddled Desert Crown to victory last year and he looks to Passenger to give him seventh overall win the in the race.

Owners the Niarchos Family opted to stump up the £85,000 fee to add him to the 12-furlong Classic after enduring a luckless run when third in the Dante last time out.

Aidan O’Brien is the race’s leading trainer with eight wins on his CV and Auguste Rodin captains a possible four-strong team as he seeks to put a disappointing 2000 Guineas run well behind him stepping up in trip.

Adelaide River, Covent Garden and Chester winner San Antonio complete the potential Ballydoyle squad.

Frankie Dettori is set to have his last ride in the Derby aboard the John and Thady Gosden-trained Arrest, an impressive winner of the Chester Vase on his seasonal bow while Dante winner The Foxes is in contention for Andrew Balding.

York second White Birch reopposes for John Murphy, Jessica Harrington’s Leopardstown Derby Trial winner Sprewell and the Donnacha O’Brien-trained Alder round out the Irish hopefuls.

Charlie Johnston’s 2000 Guineas fifth Dubai Mile is set to be joined by stablemate Dear My Friend, who was eighth in the Dante, with Ralph Beckett’s unbeaten Artistic Star, the Roger Varian-trained King Of Steel and Waipiro for Ed Walker the other candidates.

Passenger will be supplemented at a cost of £85,000 for the Betfred Derby on Monday morning, Sir Michael Stoute has said.

The master trainer, who landed the Epsom Classic with Desert Crown last year, will be represented in Saturday’s mile-and-a-half showpiece by the fast-improving Ulysses colt, who was denied a clear run in the Dante Stakes at York.

Passenger, owned by the Niarchos family, made a taking debut when scoring in a mile maiden at Newmarket on April 20.

He was withdrawn from the Dee Stakes at Chester due to heavy ground so connections paid £14,000 to supplement the colt into the Group Two Dante on the Knavesmire.

Upped to an extended 10 furlongs and racing keenly early on his second start, jockey Richard Kingscote found his path blocked when attempting to mount a challenge two furlongs from home.

Once seeing daylight, the 9-4 favourite stayed on nicely and forced a dead-heat for third, just a length and a half behind The Foxes, who enjoyed the run of the race.

Passenger, currently 5-1 third-favourite with the sponsors, will bid to give Stoute a seventh Derby success following victories with Shergar (1981), Shahrastani (1986), Kris Kin (2003), North Light (2004), Workforce (2010) and Desert Crown.

He “worked nicely” in a mile workout on the Al Bahathri Polytrack in Newmarket on Saturday morning, according to Stoute, who confirmed: “We are planning to supplement him for the Derby in the morning.”

Desert Crown, returning from 11 months off after the Derby, saw his colours lowered for the first time when the fast-finishing Hukum overhauled him in the last few strides of the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown on Thursday evening.

Stoute added: “He’s all right. He did everything right until the last hundred yards when he tied up a bit.”

Passenger may yet throw his hat into the Derby ring after running with immense promise in defeat in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.

It was hard to know what the Ulysses colt had achieved in beating a field of fellow newcomers in the Wood Ditton at Newmarket, but it appeared significant connections decided him to supplement him for a Derby trial Sir Michael Stoute had already won on a record seven occasions, with Desert Crown doing the double just last season.

Punters on the Knavesmire ultimately agreed, with Passenger the 9-2 favourite by the time the gates opened. But what followed was a tale of woe for his supporters.

Ridden by Richard Kingscote, the Niarchos family-owned runner appeared to be travelling all over his rivals halfway up the home straight, but he could not find a gap for love nor money.

By the time Passenger did get a run, it was all too late, but there was much to like about the way he stayed on to dead-heat for third with Aidan O’Brien’s Continuous, beaten just a couple of lengths by eventual winner The Foxes.

While brief in his assessment of the performance, Kingscote immediately blamed himself, saying: “It was my fault, I couldn’t get him a run. It’s very frustrating.”

A decision on whether Stoute and the Niarchos family will roll the dice at Epsom on June 3 is made more complicated by the fact Passenger is not entered, meaning the owners will again have to stump up a supplementary fee, with the price for adding him to the Derby set at £85,000.

Paddy Power were impressed enough by his performance to make him an 8-1 shot like The Foxes, though, and connections ultimately have a couple of weeks to mull it over.

Stoute was not on the Knavesmire, but his assistant James Savage said: “It was a bit of a hard-luck story.

“He was in the stalls a long time, he jumped well and did everything brilliantly for a horse having only his second start after running on a straight mile at Newmarket.

“There’s a lot of positives to be taken out of the race. It didn’t happen for Richard up the straight, but that’s just one of those things.”

Interestingly, the only previous horse to be beaten in the Dante and win the Derby was the Stoute-trained Workforce in 2010.

When asked whether Passenger could bid to emulate the subsequent Arc hero, Savage added: “That is going to be a decision for Sir Michael and the Niarchos family. All I can say is that we’ve learnt he’s able to compete at a very high level with the best three-year-olds.

“I’m not so sure experience got him beat because if the gap had come he would have gone through it.

“He’s took a massive step forward from Newmarket to here and we’ll just see how he is.”

Alan Cooper, racing manager for the owners, said: “I’m afraid he didn’t have the clearest of runs, but it was a great improvement from his first start, so let’s get home and see what Sir Michael would like to do.

“He’s shown that he’s a good horse on only his second start. Let’s regroup.

“The family will follow Sir Michael’s advice.”

Splitting The Foxes and the third-placed pair of Passenger and Continuous was John Murphy’s Irish raider White Birch.

Winner of a heavy ground Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown on his seasonal bow, the grey proved he is equally effective on quicker conditions, charging home from the rear to be beaten only a neck.

Another son of Ulysses, White Birch does hold a Derby entry and appears bound for Epsom. He is 20-1 with Coral.

George Murphy, assistant to his father, said: “He ran a super race, quickened up really well and just bumped into one on the day, but we couldn’t be happier with the run.

“I think the horse himself thought he had it won and the winner just came from out of his vision, but we’re delighted.

“He’s a super mover and a big, powerful horse – ground doesn’t seem to bother him.

“We’ll take him home and see how he comes out of it, but I think he’s more entitled to take his chance in the Derby now. If the owners are happy to go there and he comes out of it well, I think he definitely deserves a crack at it.”

Impressive Wood Ditton scorer Passenger is entrusted with upholding Sir Michael Stoute’s fine record in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.

Stoute has won the premier Betfred Derby trial seven times throughout his illustrious career and last year sent out Desert Crown to triumph on the Knavesmire before subsequently marching on to Epsom glory.

Now it is the turn of Passenger to stake his Classic claims, and having seen the rain scupper his intended outing at Chester last week, the Ulysses colt was supplemented into this Group Two event at a cost of £14,000.

“Passenger was a non-runner at Chester because of soft ground, but should have the perfect ground for him in the Dante,” said Alan Cooper, racing manager for owner the Niarchos family.

“It will be a big step up from the Wood Ditton, with the Dante being just his second start, and we will learn a bit more about him for the experience.

“It’s a stepping stone and we’ll see how he takes it, and Sir Michael will then make a plan afterwards. The hope is he is confirms the potential of the Wood Ditton and we can take it from there.”

John Gosden has won this three times in the past 10 years – including with Epsom hero Golden Horn – and alongside son Thady, will put Epictetus’ Derby credentials to the test following his success in the Blue Riband Trial last month.

“He won over a mile and a quarter in the Blue Riband on his last start and he steps up in trip this time. Hopefully the track and trip will suit him,” said Thady Gosden.

“He’s come out of Epsom really well and fingers crossed he will run a nice race again.”

James Ferguson’s Canberra Legend also has a victory in a key trial to his name, having taken the Feilden Stakes in fine style and the Kremlin Cottage handler is hoping this will give an indication as to how high he should aim the unbeaten son of Australia.

“He was impressive enough in the Feilden and has done everything right so far. He’s ticked all the boxes and his last piece of work was exactly what we wanted,” said Ferguson.

“We’re going there full of confidence, but with the understanding that it is another massive step up. It’s one of the top Derby trials and we’re up against some very good horses.

“Winning a Feilden at Newmarket gives us the confidence we have a good horse on our hands and this is about finding out about how good if everything goes right – whether it is Epsom, Ascot or France.”

Another heading to the Knavesmire with a perfect record is Aidan’s O’Brien’s Continuous, who won a Group Three in France on his final start at two and will bid to give his handler a fifth Dante as he reappears in the hands of Ryan Moore.

“This looks the most significant Derby trial so far in terms of depth,” Moore told Betfair.

“You can obviously make a case for a few given their unexposed profiles and I suppose none more so than Passenger, who impressed me when winning the Wood Ditton and comes here after being taken out of the Dee Stakes last week because of the ground.

“My colt Continuous is also unbeaten, as is the Feilden winner Canberra Legend, and he comes here in good shape, having showed a lot of ability and a very willing attitude when winning both of his races at two.

“He wouldn’t have the stamina-laden pedigree of some, but the way he won his Group Three in France over a mile in testing ground suggests this trip is well worth trying. I think he is decent, but we shall see. Ideally, he would prefer a bit of dig but good ground on a flat track like York should be fine.”

John Murphy’s Ballysax scorer White Birch is another making the trip from Ireland, having seen his Leopardstown form upheld by the runner-up at the Dublin track recently.

“He’s in super form. We couldn’t be happier with him and we’re looking forward to it,” said George Murphy, assistant to his father.

“This is a bigger test again and it will be good to see what White Birch can now do. It looks a very hot race on paper and everyone is going there thinking they have the winner. Hopefully he is good enough, but he is in good shape and we think he will run a big race.”

Charlie Appleby won the Dante with Hurricane Lane in 2021 and having seen Military Order fly to the top of the Derby betting when scoring at Lingfield on Saturday, now looks to add a second string to his Epsom bow with Flying Honours, who ended a fine juvenile campaign by winning the Zetland Stakes in October.

“Flying Honours was meant to run at Sandown last month, but the meeting was abandoned, so we took him for a racecourse gallop at Newmarket instead,” the Moulton Paddocks handler told

“We were very pleased with how that went and he goes into this in great order.

“We know that he gets this trip, having won the Zetland on his final two-year-old start, and feel that he has the scope to improve again as we step him up over further. It looks a competitive renewal of the Dante and whoever wins will be a leading player for the Derby.”

Andrew Balding’s The Foxes accounted for Flying Honours when claiming the Royal Lodge at two and made an encouraging return when second in the Craven Stakes last month. The Churchill colt could be suited by the step up to 10 furlongs, as could Roger Teal’s consistent Dancing Magic, who was a place behind in third at Newmarket.

A mile and a quarter could also play to the strengths of the King Of Steel, who created a taking impression on debut at Nottingham last year and was then been deemed good enough to take his chance in a Doncaster Group One shortly after.

He has since joined Roger Varian ahead of his Classic season and the Carlburg Stables handler believes he is giving all the right signals in his work at home.

He said. “He was impressive on his first start last year then he ran in the Group One at Doncaster.

“He has trained like a good horse all spring and we’re looking forward to running him.

“He’s a big horse but light on his feet and we’ll see how he measures up in the Dante, which will give us some direction whether he is an Epsom horse or a horse for one of those races at Royal Ascot.”

Burradon Stakes scorer Dear My Friend and Feilden third Killybegs Warrior both represent Charlie Johnston, while Karl Burke’s Liberty Lane completes the line-up, having chased home Waipiro at Newmarket.

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