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English King & Kameko head 17 entries for 241st Investec Derby

Ante-post favourite English King and QIPCO 2000 Guineas winner Kameko headline 17 entries for the 2020 Investec Derby behind closed doors at Epsom Downs this Saturday, 4 July.

Britain's premier Classic has a total prize fund of £500,000 and will be run at the revised time of 4.55pm to encourage a larger TV audience.

Bjorn Nielsen's English King (Ed Walker) is the well-supported 5/2 favourite with Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby, following a classy success in the Listed Derby Trial at Lingfield Park on 5 June.

Anthony Van Dyck followed up his Lingfield success by winning the premier Classic in 2019, following in the footsteps of High-Rise (1998), Kahyasi (1988), Slip Anchor (1985) and Teenoso (1983), Pathia (1959) and Tulyar (1952), who all won both contests in the post-war period.

Two-time Investec Derby winning jockey Frankie Dettori will take the ride on English King, a son of 2012 Investec Derby hero Camelot, for the first time.

Classic winner Kameko (Andrew Balding) has stamina to prove as he races beyond a mile for the first time. A total of 37 horses have won the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and Investec Derby, but only two in the last 30 years - Sea The Stars (2009) and Camelot (2012).

Kameko's stablemate Khalifa Sat has no such stamina questions after a game victory over Emissary (Hugo Palmer) in the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes over 11 furlongs at Goodwood on 14 June.

Seven of Ireland's eight contenders hail from the all-conquering stable of Aidan O'Brien, who is seeking a record-breaking eighth Investec Derby victory.

The Ballydoyle challenge is to be spearheaded by the highly regarded Mogul, who was reportedly badly in the need of the run on his comeback at Royal Ascot, G3 Hampton Court Stakes winner Russian Emperor and Irish 2000 Guineas second Vatican City.

O'Brien's other likely participants include Mythical, who finished third in the G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud in October, and Amhran Na Bhfiann, a full-brother to 2012 Investec Oaks winner Was. Prix du Jockey Club possible Armory and impressive Curragh maiden victor Serpentine are also engaged.

Pyledriver put himself in the Investec Derby picture with a decisive victory in the G2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, in which Mohican Heights (David Simcock) and Mogul finished third and fourth respectively.

The scopey son of Harbour Watch began the campaign with a staying-on second behind Berlin Tango in the G3 Classic Trial at Kempton Park on 3 June.

Trainer William Muir said: "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 (Paul & Oliver Cole) was also in the winner's enclosure at Royal Ascot, after coming with a swooping run under top-weight to land the Golden Gates Handicap over 10 furlongs.

Britain's champion trainer John Gosden has sent out two Investec Derby winners, most recently Golden Horn in 2015, and the Newmarket handler has entered the once-raced Newbury maiden scorer Worthily. Worthily is a three-parts sibling to Lucarno, who was fourth in the 2007 Derby before going to take the St Leger.

The 17 entries are completed by G3 Zetland Stakes winner Max Vega (Ralph Beckett) and G1 Irish Derby sixth Gold Maze (Jessica Harrington IRE).

The Investec Derby is part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

Unibet issued its latest odds and specials following this morning's entries.

Unibet's Ed Nicholson said: "It is unusual not to have an Aidan O'Brien horse vying for Investec Derby favouritism in the week before the great race, but this year is an unusual one full stop, and it's Ed Walker's first Derby runner - English King - who heads our market at 5/2.

"English King's Derby price was smashed in the minutes following his impressive Lingfield victory. We immediately went 20/1 (from 50s) as soon as he past the post - but were quickly forced to cut him again to 10/1 and then 8s as punters clamoured to get on.

"Kameko aims to become just the fifth horse in the last 50 years to complete the 2000 Guineas and Investec Derby double, and is currently 4/1 second favourite with a trio of Ballydoyle contenders (Mogul, Russian Emperor & Vatican City) next in at 8/1.

"Aidan O'Brien saddled the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th & 8th in last year's Investec Derby and you have to go back to 2008 to find the last time he failed to have a horse in the first four. During that time, he has saddled five winners of the race. Unibet offer 9/4 that the mercurial Irishman is responsible for the 2020 winner, while he is 7/2 to win both the Derby and the Oaks - a feat he has accomplished twice already."

Investec Derby - Unibet prices: 5/2 English King; 4/1 Kameko; 7/1 Russian Emperor; 8/1 Mogul, Vatican City; 14/1 Highland Chief; 16/1 Pyledriver, Serpentine; 20/1 Khalifa Sat; 25/1 Armory, Mohican Heights, Worthily; 33/1 Mythical, Emissary; 40/1 Amhran Na Bhfiann; 50/1 Gold Maze, Max Vega
Each-way 1/5 1,2,3

The 241st Investec Derby (Group 1)
 
4.55pm, Epsom Downs, Saturday, 4 July, 2020. 1m 4f 6y. £500,000 Total Prize Fund.
 
1) Amhran Na Bhfiann (IRE) (Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor) Aidan O'Brien IRE 3-9-00
 
2) Armory (IRE) (Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith) Aidan O'Brien IRE 3-9-00
 
3) Emissary (Khalid Abdullah) Hugo Palmer 3-9-00 Jim Crowley
 
4) English King (FR) (Bjorn Nielsen) Ed Walker 3-9-00 Frankie Dettori
 
5) Gold Maze (The Long Wait Partnership) Jessica Harrington IRE 3-9-00
 
6) Highland Chief (IRE) (Fitri Hay) Paul & Oliver Cole 3-9-00 Ben Curtis
 
7) Kameko (USA) (Qatar Racing Limited) Andrew Balding 3-9-00 Oisin Murphy
 
8) Khalifa Sat (IRE) (Ahmad Al Shaikh) Andrew Balding 3-9-00 Tom Marquand
 
9) Max Vega (IRE) (The Pickford Hill Partnership) Ralph Beckett 3-9-00 Harry Bentley
 
10) Mogul (Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith & Sue Magnier) Aidan O'Brien IRE 3-9-00
 
11) Mohican Heights (IRE) (Sun Bloodstock SARL) David Simcock 3-9-00 Andrea Atzeni
 
12) Mythical (FR) (Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith) Aidan O'Brien IRE 3-9-00
 
13) Pyledriver (K & W Bloodstock Limited & Mr R W Devlin) William Muir 3-9-00 Martin Dwyer
 
14) Russian Emperor (IRE) (Laurie Macri/Sue Magnier et al) Aidan O'Brien IRE 3-9-00
 
15) Serpentine (IRE) (Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith) Aidan O'Brien IRE 3-9-00
 
16) Vatican City (IRE) (Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith) Aidan O'Brien IRE 3-9-00
 
17) Worthily (USA) (George Strawbridge) John Gosden 3-9-00 Martin Harley
 
Investec Derby Behind Closed Doors; The Great British Garden Party
 
This year, the 241st running of the Investec Derby will take place in an unprecedented way. For the first time in its history the world's greatest Flat race will be staged behind closed doors, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. There will be no public access to the racecourse, the outer enclosures or to the Hill.
 
The event will be equally unprecedented in its format, taking place on just one single day, Saturday 4 July 2020. The day will consist of seven races including the historic fillies' classic the G1 Investec Oaks, and the feature race the G1 Investec Derby.
 
General Manager of Epsom Downs Racecourse, Simon Durrant said:
 
"We are delighted that the Investec Derby can go ahead at its unique home course. Indeed, this will be the first time both the Oaks and Derby races take place on the same day, with both set to feature highly competitive fields.
 
"Whilst we are sad not to be able to welcome the usual thousands of spectators to the racecourse in person, we invite the community and wider audience to get involved via our website and social media channels, and to enjoy the historic event on ITV on Saturday 4th July."
 
Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of Epsom & Ewell Borough Council's Strategy & Resources Committee, said:
 
"With the Government's decision to encourage the return of national sporting events we welcome the innovative approach being adopted by the racing industry in order to ensure a safe Investec Derby and associated day of racing in these exceptional times.
 
"Racing is a part of our borough's proud heritage, but we recognise that, this year, the only way to support and celebrate this day of racing is to enjoy it from home."
 
Below Epsom Downs Racecourse looks to answer questions about how this unique version of the event will take place and the ways the community and wider public can continue to engage with and enjoy the spectacle that is Investec Derby Day, albeit in an alternative way.                           
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