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Favourite English King faces 15 rivals as he bids to justify his position at the top of the market in the £500,000 Group 1 Investec Derby at 4.55pm on Saturday, the first time the Premier Classic will be held behind closed doors.
English King, the mount of Frankie Dettori, marked himself down as a live contender for the race with an impressive success in the Listed Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield Park on 5th June. Though 17 Investec Derby favourites have triumphed in the race since 1970, no horse has won from English King’s stall 1 since starting stalls were introduced for the race in 1967.
Trainer Ed Walker, ahead of his first runner in the Investec Derby, said:
“I am massively excited by English King and I would not swap him for anything else. I know that sounds mad with a Guineas winner [Kameko] in the field, but I wouldn’t. I always vowed that I would not run a horse in the Derby if he didn’t deserve his place. I think he will have learnt a lot at Lingfield and hopefully he can cruise round Tattenham Corner.”
English King’s chief danger according to the betting market is Qipco 2000 Guineas winner Kameko, the mount of Kerry-born Oisín Murphy. Similar to English King, Kameko is drawn in a stall (11) from which a horse has never won the Epsom Derby. The record of Qipco 2000 Guineas winners in the Investec Derby is mixed with only Sea The Stars (2009) and Camelot (2012) completing the Newmarket 2000 Guineas-Epsom Derby double in the last 30 years.
Aidan O’Brien is bidding for a record breaking eighth Investec Derby victory, with five of his seven wins in the race having come since 2012. The master of Ballydoyle has six horses in the field, with jockey Ryan Moore choosing to rider Mogul. The Irish-based jockeys will travel to England to ride for the first time this season, with Séamie Heffernan on Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes winner Russian Emperor, while former Epsom Derby-winning jockey Pádraig Beggy will take the mount on Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas runner-up Vatican City. Mythical will be the mount of James Doyle, Curragh maiden winner Serpentine will have the assistance of Emmet McNamara in the saddle, while William Buick will ride Amhrán na Bhfiann. How ironic it is that both Godolphin jockeys, James Doyle and William Buick, are riding Coolmore-owned horses in the most prestigious flat race of the season.
Russian Emperor is one of three Royal Ascot winners in the field alongside William Muir’s Pyledriver (Martin Dwyer) and Highland Chief, a first ride in the race for Irish jockey Ben Curtis. Pyledriver had Mohican Heights (Andrea Atzeni) and Mogul behind him when landing the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes, while Highland Chief defied top weight to win the Golden Gates Handicap.
Kameko’s stablemate Khalifa Sat (Tom Marquand) and Emissary (Jim Crowley) meet again, after the pair were separated by a neck in the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood on 14th June.
John Gosden, twice winner of the Investec Derby, saddles the once-raced Newbury maiden scorer Worthily (Martin Harley), a three-parts sibling to Lucarno, who was fourth in the 2007 Epsom Derby before going on to take the Doncaster St Leger.
The 16 runners are completed by Group 3 Zetland Stakes winner Max Vega (Harry Bentley) and Jessica Harrington’s Gold Maze (David Egan), who finished sixth in last weekend’s Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at The Curragh.
The 241st Investec Derby (Group 1)
4.55pm, Epsom Downs, Saturday, 4 July, 2020. 1m 4f 6y. £500,000 Total Prize Fund.
Stalls number in brackets.
1) (5) Amhran Na Bhfiann (IRE) (Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor) Aidan O’Brien IRE 3-9-00 William Buick
2) (4) Emissary (Khalid Abdullah) Hugo Palmer 3-9-00 Jim Crowley
3) (1) English King (FR) (Bjorn Nielsen) Ed Walker 3-9-00 Frankie Dettori
4) (16) Gold Maze (The Long Wait Partnership) Jessica Harrington IRE 3-9-00 David Egan
5) (13) Highland Chief (IRE) (Fitri Hay) Paul & Oliver Cole 3-9-00 Ben Curtis
6) (11) Kameko (USA) (Qatar Racing Limited) Andrew Balding 3-9-00 Oisín Murphy
7) (14) Khalifa Sat (IRE) (Ahmad Al Shaikh) Andrew Balding 3-9-00 Tom Marquand
8) (7) Max Vega (IRE) (The Pickford Hill Partnership) Ralph Beckett 3-9-00 Harry Bentley
9) (2) Mogul (Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith & Sue Magnier) Aidan O’Brien IRE 3-9-00 Ryan Moore
10) (15) Mohican Heights (IRE) (Sun Bloodstock SARL) David Simcock 3-9-00 Andrea Atzeni
11) (10) Mythical (FR) (Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith) Aidan O’Brien IRE 3-9-00 James Doyle
12) (3) Pyledriver (K & W Bloodstock Limited & Roger Devlin) William Muir 3-9-00 Martin Dwyer
13) (6) Russian Emperor (IRE) (Laurie Macri/Sue Magnier et al) Aidan O’Brien IRE 3-9-00 Séamie Heffernan
14) (12) Serpentine (IRE) (Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith) Aidan O’Brien IRE 3-9-00 Emmet McNamara
15) (8) Vatican City (IRE) (Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith) Aidan O’Brien IRE 3-9-00 Pádraig Beggy
16) (9) Worthily (USA) (George Strawbridge) John Gosden 3-9-00 Martin Harley