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Ed Walker believes English King ticks all the boxes ahead of Derby date

Mon 29 Jun 2020

Watch below what Jane Mangan makes of the Irish challengers in Saturday's showpiece at Epsom plus Nick Lightfoot's interview with Andrew Balding

Ante-post favourite English King is among 17 entries for Saturday’s Investec Derby at Epsom.

The mile-and-a-half Classic finds itself in an unusual position on the calendar this year, coming a month later than normal and after both Royal Ascot and the Irish Derby, because of the late start to the campaign.

That will not matter one iota to the winning connections come this weekend, though – and for Ed Walker, trainer of Lingfield Derby Trial winner English King, it would be the realisation of a childhood ambition.

“Anyone who says they don’t think about winning the Derby is surely lying,” said Walker.

Who will join the Investec Derby roll of honour?

“I’ve been thinking about it since I discovered horseracing when I was 13 years old, so of course you think about it in this position. It would be a great day if it happened.

“It’s been quite nice that we booked our ticket very early – it was only the fifth day of the season. It’s been nice watching all the other trials and seeing who else is putting their hands up as Derby contenders.

“I always vowed I wouldn’t run a horse in the Derby who didn’t deserve his place, because we’ve all seen nice horses get ruined in the race.

“I’m very hopeful and confident he genuinely deserves to take his chance. Whether he’s good enough, we’ll find out, but I think he ticks a lot of boxes – and I think that’s why he’s at the top of the market.”

Balding tells Nick Lightfoot more about Qipco 2000 Guineas winner Kameko

Aidan O’Brien had mooted turning Irish Derby winner Santiago out again quickly after he added to his Royal Ascot win at the Curragh, but his name was not on the list.

Instead the seven possible Ballydoyle runners are another Ascot winner in Russian Emperor, Irish Guineas runner-up Vatican City, Mogul, Amhran Na Bhfiann, Armory, Mythical and Serpentine.

Andrew Balding’s Kameko was a clear-cut winner of the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and he takes a leap up in trip, with stablemate and Goodwood winner Khalifa Sat also set to take his chance.

Pyledriver was one of the more popular winners during Royal Ascot for William Muir and he will aim to give Martin Dwyer a second win in the race following on from Sir Percy in 2006.

Muir said on Monday: "We could not have been happier with Pyledriver at Ascot and he has come out of the race really well.

"I said from Ascot that he had to come right back to his best at home [if he is to run at Epsom]. That includes putting weight on and he has done that.

"We thought Pyledriver was a good horse at the beginning of the year, although because of the season and how it has turned out, we are able to have an Investec Derby runner, something which might not have happened in an ordinary year because he would have to have been supplemented.

"Martin [Dwyer, jockey] will have a sit on him again on Tuesday morning, but he will just have a normal routine between now and the race. He is fit and healthy, and we will just keep him right.

"There are one or two very strong horses in the Derby, but he has not done anything wrong. His time was good at Royal Ascot and he has come out of the race well.

"Everybody is excited, and we are really looking forward to it."

Highland Chief was another Royal Ascot winner for Paul and Oliver Cole, another family who have tasted Derby glory before with Generous in 1991.

Emissary, Gold Maze, Max Vega, Mohican Heights and Worthily complete the contenders.

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