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2020 Epsom Derby Preview: Runner-by-runner guide to Saturday’s classic

| 02.07.2020

It might be a month later than usual, and it may be taking place behind closed doors, but there’s still nothing in sport quite like the Derby at Epsom.

Flat Racing’s most prestigious prize is up for grabs once again this weekend, with Irish supremo Aidan O’Brien aiming to become the outright leading trainer in the race with eight wins.

He’ll throw seven darts at the Surrey classic this time around, although they might not be enough to see off the favourite, English King.

You can watch the action unfold live on ITV from 16:55 this Saturday, and we’ve marked your card ahead of the race with our runner-by-runner guide.

English King | Ed Walker | 71-1 |

Ed Walker has never had a runner in the Derby, let alone trained the winner. Now he has the favourite, with the colt seeking to follow in Anthony Van Dyck’s footsteps after landing the Derby Trial at Lingfield.

Berkshire Rocco backed up that form by finishing well-clear of the field behind subsequent Irish Derby winner Santiago in the Queen’s Vase.

The booking of Frankie Dettori also inspires confidence, although he’ll have to overcome a historically problematic draw, with only three Derby winners emerging from stall one in the race’s history.

Kameko | Andrew Balding | 1221-1 |

Camelot was the last 2000 Guineas winner to win the Derby back in 2012. Can Kameko repeat the feat? He’s the standout on form, with none of his competitors able to boast a single Group 1 win, let alone two.

The big question is whether he’ll enjoy the step up in trip. Roaring Lion is also a son of Kitten’s Joy and he failed to get home first in the Derby in 2018. This field looks shallower, but it still has to be a concern.

Mogul | Aidan O’Brien | 2114-4 |

Turned over in the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot, with the trainer admitting it was a rushed preparation. He should strip fitter and could go close as his brother Japan did when third in the Derby 12 months ago.

There’s definitely more to come from Mogul, it’s just a question of whether he’s had the prep to show it here.

Russian Emperor | Aidan O’Brien | 3-121 |

If you like the O’Brien second string, then you’ll probably like Russian Emperor. The Galileo colt has run well twice this term, finishing second in the Derrinstown Derby Trial before taking the Hampton Court at Ascot.

He stayed on well that day to finish ahead of rivals who are swerving Epsom, and with little doubt he’ll relish the step up in trip, we’re expecting a big run from a horse who looks to have every chance.

Russian Emperor

Vatican City | Aidan O’Brien | 51-2 |

Punters have been getting stuck into Vatican City after his close second in the Irish 2000 Guineas, but like Kameko, there are significant questions to answer about whether he can handle the step up in trip.

His siblings, including Gleneagles, were all seen to best effect over a mile, and with the colt himself yet to go beyond that distance, a lot has to be taken on confidence that can stay the 1m 4f on offer here.

Highland Chief | Paul & Oliver Cole | 136-1 |

Highland Chief has gone from 33s into 20s into around 14/1 for the Derby following his victory over 1m 2f in the Golden Gates Handicap at Royal Ascot, which admittedly is an unusual route to Epsom.

He impressed off the pace that day, while his pedigree suggests the step up shouldn’t be a problem. However, his two victories both came on soft ground, and this is much tougher than anything he’s faced previously.

Pyledriver | William Muir | 417-21 |

Sprung an 18/1 shock to win the King Edward VII ahead of Mogul at Royal Ascot and now takes his chance in the Derby. Difficult to assess how good that form is, although there’s no question he’ll stay the distance.

The Harbour Watch colt will need to progress again here, and while he has more experience than most, the undulations of Epsom are a different test altogether. An interesting fancy, but difficult to back on the nose.

Pyledriver

Mohican Heights | David Simcock | 11-3 |

Finished third in the King Edward VII at Ascot which means he needs to reverse form with fellow Derby outsider Pyledriver before he can even think about taking on any of the big boys.

That makes a big run at Epsom a difficult ask, although he’ll strip fitter for his last run and should get the 1m 4f trip. Place hopes are probably the best David Simcock’s charge can hope for.

Khalifa Sat | Andrew Balding | 61-1 |

It’d be quite the story if Tom Marquand, who was jocked off favourite English King, could land the Derby aboard Khalifa Sat. Unfortunately for all involved, the odds suggest that scenario is unlikely to unfold.

Andrew Balding’s inmate took advantage of a soft lead to land the four-runner Cocked Hat at Goodwood last month, but this will be a different test, and his pedigree suggests that an extended trip may be required.

Serpentine | Aidan O’Brien | 0-51 |

Turned out quickly after breaking his maiden tag with an impressive 9l victory at The Curragh last week.

His dam finished runner-up in the Oaks a decade ago, so the trip should be no problem, but this is much tougher and with his Curragh victory difficult to assess, it’s hard to see him getting involved.

Emissary | Hugo Palmer | 1-2 |

Lacks the necessary experience to lay down a serious challenge here even if his half-brother did win the Derby in 2010.

Finished runner-up behind Khalifa Sat in the Cocked Hat, and while he may be capable of better in time, it’s likely this will be too much too soon for Hugo Palmer’s inmate.

Worthily | John Gosden | 1 |

John Gosden isn’t one to take a punt without due cause, so it’s interesting to see Worthily thrown in here just three weeks after making his racecourse debut in taking style at Newbury.

Just one career start makes inexperience an obvious issue, but it’ll be interesting to see if the market speaks for a horse who could be anything at this point.

Max Vega | Ralph Beckett | 211-5 |

Max Vega’s win in the Zetland Stakes last year has worked out pretty well with Berkshire Rocco, Mythical Tritonic and Volkan Star all subsequently impressing in races of decent quality this season.

His reappearance in the Classic Trial at Kempton didn’t offer much encouragement, however, so he’ll need to come on for that run if he wants to get involved here. That said, there are worse fancies at similar prices.

Max Vega

Mythical | Aidan O’Brien | 6143-5 |

Placed in Group 1 company last term but finished lame on his reappearance at The Curragh.

He’s twice been turned over at odds-on and others from the Ballydoyle yard make much more appeal.

Amhran Na Bhfiann | Aidan O’Brien | 0-4 |

The Derby might be over by the time you work out how to pronounce this horse’s name correctly.

Named after the Irish national anthem, the last remaining Ballydoyle contender remains a maiden and will likely be given pacemaker duties for the more fancied types at the head of the market.

Gold Maze | Jessica Harrington | 53-26 |

Another who remains a maiden after being well held into sixth in the Irish Derby last time out.

He was too keen at The Curragh and off the back of a quick turnaround. He’ll probably finish closer to the back than he does the front.

View the latest Derby odds

All odds and markets correct as of date of publication

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Author

Nick Murphy

Nick is a graduate of the UEA where he doubled up as the sports editor of the student newspaper. He supports Dagenham & Redbridge and previously edited the matchday programme at Victoria Road. Darts and Horse Racing are among his other favourite sports.