It’s many years since the winners of both Guineas races were aimed at the Epsom Classics. But that’s what’s happening in this strangest of years. Love looks to follow her 1,000 Guineas success in the Oaks, while Kameko bids to add the Derby to his 2,000 Guineas triumph.
Will Kameko stay Epsom’s mile and a half? He has stamina to prove when he runs beyond a mile for the first time. Only two Guineas winners have gone on to win the Derby in the last 30 years – Sea The Stars in 2009 and Camelot in 2012. It’s a tough ask.
Andrew Balding, trainer of Kameko, also has Khalifa Sat in the race. There are no such doubts with this one. He won Goodwood’s Cocked Hat Stakes over 11 furlongs on 14 June, beating Hugo Palmer’s colt Emissary, who takes him on again here. Emissary is a half-brother to 2010 Derby winner Workforce.
Ed Walker’s English King is the favourite on the back of his success in the Lingfield Derby Trial. The son of Camelot bids to emulate last year’s Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, who won that same Lingfield race prior to his Epsom triumph. Frankie Dettori takes the ride on English King for the first time. But his odds have lengthened after being drawn in stall one. Oath, in 1999, was the last horse to win from stall one.
BALLYDOYLE MOB-HANDED TO TAKE ON KAMEKO
Aidan O’Brien saddled the first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth in last year’s Derby. You have to go back to 2008 to find the last time he failed to have a horse in the first four. Since then, he has won the Derby five times and now bids for a record-breaking eighth victory.
O’Brien brings a team of six in a bid to spoil the Kameko party. They include Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes winner Russian Emperor and Irish 2,000 Guineas second Vatican City. His other runners are Mythical, who finished third in a French Group 1 in October; Amhran Na Bhfiann, a full-brother to 2012 Oaks winner Was; Curragh maiden winner Serpentine; and Mogul, who reportedly needed the run when fourth to Pyledriver on his comeback in Royal Ascot’s King Edward VII Stakes. Ryan Moore has chosen to ride Mogul, while Seamie Heffernan gets on Russian Emperor. They look the main O’Brien threat to Kameko doing the double.
The William Muir-trained Pyledriver put himself in the Derby picture when winning the King Edward VII Stakes. David Simcock’s colt Mohican Heights finished third that day and bids to turn the tables here.
Paul and Oliver Cole’s Highland Chief is also a Royal Ascot winner. He won the 1m 2f Golden Gates Handicap under top weight. But that’s a long way off what’s needed to win the Derby.
Champion trainer John Gosden bids to topple Kameko with the once-raced Newbury maiden winner Worthily. He’s a three-parts brother to Lucarno, the 2007 St Leger hero, so the trip should not be an issue, although lack of experience is an obvious concern.
Ralph Beckett’s Group 3 Zetland Stakes winner Max Vega and Irish Derby sixth Gold Maze complete the field.
WHO WINS THE 2020 DERBY?
This is a very strange year with so little to go on. No Chester May meeting, no Dante Stakes, Ireland’s Derby trials shoehorned into a short period. Pyledriver would be a fairy-tale result but with question marks about some of the market leaders, the narrow vote goes to Russian Emperor.