Fresh from being top jockey at Royal Ascot for the seventh time, Frankie Dettori gets the ride on English King in the Epsom Derby.
The beloved Italian is approaching 50, but replaces Tom Marquand aboard the Ed Walker trained Classic hopeful. In reaction to this jockey booking, betting sites slashed English King’s odds into a clear 7/2 favourite.
That is the best price, however. Some bookmakers have English King as short as 11/4 with punters piling on the Frankie factor.
Following his Group race hat-trick on the Saturday of Royal Ascot, it is easy to see why. Dettori partnered American raider Campanelle to victory the Queen Mary Stakes for Wesley Ward, then Alpine Star in the Coronation Stakes for Jessica Harrington and Palace Pier in the St James’s Palace for John Gosden.
He was also successful in English King’s colours aboard Stradivarius for owner Bjorn Nielsen as the star stayer completed an Ascot Gold Cup hat-trick last Thursday.
Dettori has won The Derby twice in his career, first on Authorized in 2007 and again with Golden Horn in 2015. He is also set to ride The Oaks favourite Frankly Darling on 4 July.
Nielsen wants Epsom Derby glory to follow those exploits. In English King, he has an impressive Lingfield Derby Trial winner who saw the form of that race franked during Royal Ascot.
Runner-up Berkshire Rocco filled the same spot in the Group 2 Queen’s Vase when chasing home Ireland’s leading St Leger hope Santiago.
Analysis: Connections of English King mean business
Jamie Clark, Horsebetting.com Editor
If in doubt, book Frankie Dettori. Nielsen has a longstanding relationship with him through Stradivarius, so it makes sense. The subtext here is that Dettori’s own stable, the Gosden yard, don’t have an Epsom Derby horse this year.
Walker and Nielsen have made a big statement of intent with this jockey booking. Marquand gave English King a perfectly good ride at Lingfield, but he is not Dettori.
That race produced last year’s Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck – an also ran behind Fanny Logan in the Hardwicke Stakes. No prizes for guessing who rode that filly!
The Epsom Derby is unique this season, and not just because of the July date. Early closing entries and big supplementary fees are out the window.
Although this is premier Classic in British horse racing, there are no forfeits really. Just a five-day stage and final decs line an ordinary Group race.
Necessity has changed this elite test of the Flat thoroughbred, and it’s refreshing. English King has many potential dangers out to make him a beaten favourite.
At the top of any list of opposition is 2000 Guineas scorer Kameko for Qatar Racing and Andrew Balding. The eye-catching fourth from that Rowley Mile Classic at Newmarket, Military March, is bred for the Derby trip too.
Then there is the might of Ballydoyle and Coolmore to consider. Aidan O’Brien trained five of the last eight Epsom Derby winners, and don’t forget about the plucky Pyledriver for the underdog either.