Ante-post favourite English King headlines a final field of 16 declared for the Investec Derby at Epsom on Saturday, but will have to overcome stall one.
Ed Walker’s charge booked his place in the Classic line-up with an impressive victory in the Lingfield Derby Trial and will be the mount of Frankie Dettori, as the ever-popular Italian chases a third Derby success, after Authorized (2007) and Golden Horn (2015).
The pair will have to negotiate a safe trip from the lowest stall which hasn’t produced the Derby winner in Oath in 1999.
The Andrew Balding-trained Kameko already has one Classic win on his CV after landing the 2000 Guineas last month and he will try to emulate Camelot, who supplemented his Newmarket win with Derby glory back in 2012.
Balding said ahead of the QIPCO British Champions Series event: “Both horses (also runs Khalifa Sat) did their last bits of work on Wednesday morning and I’m very happy with both of them.
“As the race draws closer I see more dangers every day but, fingers crossed, everything has gone well in the build-up.”
Balding says he is not surprised that bookmakers make English King favourite over his stable star, admitting: “He’s proven over the distance and looked very impressive at Lingfield.
“He’s certainly a potential Group 1 horse.
“There is obviously the stamina doubt over Kameko, but he’s very relaxed and that’s why we are inclined to give it a go. There’s a genetic question mark and it will be answered on Saturday.
“If he was a keen horse and difficult to settle, we would not be attempting this. It’s a combination of mentality and genetic make-up as to how far horses can stay. Any horse that wins the Vertem Futurity, as he did, is considered a potential Derby horse. He stayed the mile well as a two-year-old and also hit the line strong in the Guineas.”
Aidan O’Brien fields a six-strong challenge as he bids for a record eighth Derby success, with only Armory removed from his seven initial entries.
Royal Ascot winner Russian Emperor is the shortest O’Brien contender in the betting, but King Edward VII Stakes fourth Mogul features prominently along with Irish 2,000 Guineas runner-up Vatican City. Mythical, Serpentine and Amhran Na Bhfiann also represent Ballydoyle.
Ryan Moore has been confirmed as riding Mogul, with Seamie Heffernan teaming up with Russian Emperor and Padraig Beggy, who famously steered Wings Of Eagles to a 40/1 shock in 2017, aboard Vatican City.
William Buick partners Amhran Na Bhfiann, with James Doyle on Mythical and Emmet McNamara taking the mount on Serpentine.
Five jockeys will enjoy the thrill of riding in the Derby for the first time on Saturday. Harry Bentley (Max Vega), Ben Curtis (Highland Chief), David Egan (Gold Maze), Martin Harley (Worthily) and Tom Marquand (Khalifa Sat) will be hoping to emulate the likes of Mickael Barzalona and Padraig Beggy, who won the 2011 and 2017 renewals having never previously ridden in the great race.