The 2020 Epsom Derby will go down in history as one of the most unusual ever to take place.
There have been twists and turns around every corner ahead of Saturday’s 241st running of the premier Classic.
Not only is the 1m 4f contest run a month later than usual, the entries for the race reverted to the six-day stage.
Coronavirus caused the changes to the fixture list, so the original 356 yearling entries and usual prep races were scrapped.
Unusually, Royal Ascot took place before Epsom, while the Dante, which has produced ten Investec Derby winners, is scheduled afterwards.
This year will be the first time the Oaks and Derby have been run on the same day too.
Aidan O’Brien is looking to break his jointly-held record of seven wins and saddles six, led by Ryan Moore’s mount Mogul.
Here is Mirror Racing’s horse-by-horse guide to all 16 runners:
1. Amhran Na Bhfiann (5) A P O’Brien, Will Buick 100/1*
Winless from two runs in Irish maidens, the son of 2001 Derby winner Galileo has a mountain to climb in this exalted company. The form was given a boost in the Irish Derby however.
2. Emissary (4) Hugo Palmer, Jim Crowley 33/1
A half-brother to 2010 Derby winner Workforce, Hugo Palmer’s runner needs to significantly benefit from his comeback run. That is a distinct possibility based on what his stablemates have done and cheekpieces are added. Could reach the frame if he lives up to his reputation.
3. English King (1) Ed Walker, Frankie Dettori 3/1
Lingfield trial winner and the race favourite, partnered by Frankie Dettori. Impressive there off a fast pace, stamina is assured and he has a turn of pace for a stayer. Strong claims but has to overcome stall one – and won’t want to be shuffled too far back early in a large field.
4. Gold Maze (16) Mrs John Harrington, John Egan 200/1
A rank outsider for a team in flying form. Sixth in the Irish Derby, he ruined his chance by pulling too hard. More will finish in front of him than behind here.
5. Highland Chief (13) Paul and Oliver Cole, Ben Curtis 16/1
Responded in eye-catching fashion to first-time cheekpieces at Royal Ascot, swooping from the rear to land the Golden Gates Handicap off top weight. Miles behind Kameko in Group Two company on final two-year-old start though.
6. Kameko (11) Andrew Balding, Oisin Murphy 4/1
An authoritative winner of the 2,000 Guineas and 7lb the best on ratings, he brings the best form to the table. The only Group One winner in the field, setting course record times, the step up half a mile in trip is the question mark. Yet he finishes strongly over a mile and Oisin Murphy will be hoping to unleash his turn of foot as late as possible.
7. Khalifa Sat (14) Andrew Balding, Tom Marquand 33/1
Has a neck advantage over Emissary after an astute front-running ride helped him win in Listed company at Goodwood. Has a good attitude and no stamina worries, but is an unlikely winner.
8. Max Vega (7) Ralph Beckett, Harry Bentley 40/1
Successful in the Group Three Zetland Stakes on soft last autumn, he should be sharper for his seasonal return at Kempton. Form ties in with some of the leading fancies through Berkshire Rocco. Would appreciate rain.
9. Mogul (2) A P O’Brien, Ryan Moore 11/2
Flopped when favourite for the King Edward at Royal Ascot.
Lacklustre throughout, his backers are banking on a revival, as he looked the type for this kind of trip as a juvenile.
Kameko holds him on his Group One all-weather form though and this might be 2-0, despite the market speaking in his favour.
10. Mohican Heights (15) David Simcock, Andrea Atzeni 25/1
Too far back in-running at Royal Ascot and prior to that he had won both his starts.
A place in front of Mogul there over 1m 4f, he clearly acts at the trip and looks a live outsider if they go a good pace.
11. Mythical (10) A P O’Brien, James Doyle 66/1
Has the golden number ten stall, responsible for the biggest number of Derby winners since 1967.
Lame after being beaten at odds on last month, his form is rather in and out.
Easy to look elsewhere.
12. Pyledriver (3) William Muir, Martin Dwyer 16/1
A bargain buy and a dream runner for his connections. Scored at Royal Ascot where he proved stamina, while he is effective on different types of ground.
13. Russian Emperor (6) A P O’Brien, Seamie Heffernan 13/2
Shapes as though he will excel over 1m 4f after producing a power-packed Ascot performance.
Represents Aidan O’Brien going for a record eighth win.
Ticks plenty of boxes, but this is his third run in under four weeks and the acid test of his credentials.
14. Serpentine (12) A P O’Brien, Emmet McNamara 25/1
Made light work of a Curragh maiden, winning by nine lengths with cheekpieces applied. Just seven days later, this may be asking too much.
15. Vatican City (8) A P O’Brien, P B Beggy 10/1
An eye-catcher behind the high class Siskin in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, meeting trouble in running before staying on to take the runner-up berth. Not certain to get the trip on breeding but is a colt full of potential. Could go close.
16. Worthily (9) John Gosden, Martin Harley 33/1
Well-related, with the likes of St Leger winner Lucarno in his family. Easy to back on debut, he impressed by coming through smoothly to take the spoils. Lacks experience.
Verdict: The only Group One winner in the line-up, KAMEKO , has all the ability in the world and can continue the fairytale for connections. Officially 7lb the best on all-known form, he is an uncomplicated type and should be able to slot in from stall 11 under Oisin Murphy, who will be eager to save his potent turn of pace for the run to the line. Vatican City also has the potential to figure, while stablemate Russian Emperor is guaranteed to be doing his best work late on.
*Best industry odds at the time of publication