The 241st Investec Epsom Derby takes place this coming Saturday and will be held behind closed doors for the first time in its history. Not even the famous Downs will be open this year although up to two Owners will be able to attend in a "safe and risk-managed way", under plans agreed by the Racecourse Association, the Racehorse Owners Association and the British Horseracing Authority.
Irish Trainer Aidan O’Brien has seven of the seventeen entries at the five-day stage for the Epsom feature as the Ballydoyle legend attempts to follow on from the amazing feat of saddling the first four in the Irish Derby at the Curragh last weekend.
Santiago backed up his Royal Ascot win in scintillating fashion by winning the Irish Derby, but will not be running at Epsom.
The seven entries for O’Brien are headed by Mogul, Russian Emperor and Vatican City who are all currently at odds of around 7/1 in the ante-post betting market according to WhichBookie. Stable jockey Ryan Moore will choose his preferred horse later in the week and that will have a big effect on the odds of all the O’Brien horses.
The Ballydoyle elite Derby hit squad is completed by Amhran Na Bhfiann, Armory, Mythical and Serpentine, although Armory and Mythical also have an entry for Sunday's French Derby at Chantilly.
Frankie Dettori’s mount English King is favourite for the race and the one they all have to beat after the Ed Walker trained colt cruised home in the Lingfield Derby Trial. For Walker, it would be a childhood dream come true as he confessed “"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 promises to be some quite some race and not many would bet against O’Brien celebrating his eighth Epsom Derby success come Saturday night!
Photo: Galileo winner of 2001 Epsom Derby