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, 4th 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
9/4 Aidan O'Brien to train winner of the 2020 Investec Derby
7/2 Aidan O'Brien to win both Investec Derby & Investec Oaks
The going at Epsom Downs is currently: Good, Good to Firm in places.
GoingStick reading 7.6 at 4.00pm today.
Andrew Cooper, Head of Racing & Clerk of the Course at Epsom Downs, said today: "We are Good, Good to Firm in places today. There is no great surprise in that as we were Good here yesterday but with dry, breezy days ground doesn't stay Good for long at this time of year.
"The GoingStick reading of 7.6 ties in historically with the mix of Good and Good to Firm. The split at the moment when you walk the track would be around 60 per cent Good and 40 per cent Good to Firm.
"Yesterday, Sunday, was a predominantly dry day with a half-millimetre shower at around midday. In this sort of weather, with temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius, the track probably dries at a rate of around 2.5 to 3 millimetres of moisture a day.
"With tracks in the south of England, certainly Epsom Downs, we have never been Soft at any time this year, which means that the moisture profile is not as long lasting as it would otherwise have been. We have never been softer than the slow side of Good all year, even when we were watering during the hot spell, and that just means the ground dries a bit quicker than if you had a deeper, moister soil profile.
"The forecast is looking rather uncertain at the moment. We are speaking to the Met Office twice a day and it is looking likely to be predominantly dry for the next 24 hours. Nothing in the forecast suggests serious volumes of rain. There are bits and pieces of rain around. There is more clarity in the temperature range, which is set to be around 19 to 21 /22 Celsius all week.
"I am very happy with the condition of the track, as I have been for the last couple of weeks. The track had its last feed a fortnight ago and it caught some rain during Royal Ascot week, although not as much as Ascot saw. It has blossomed in line with the timetable for the Investec Derby this year and is good condition. There is no rail movement this year due to all races taking place on the same day and all distances are as advertised.
"We were envisaging 16 to 20 horses would be entered for the Investec Derby as we planned for this year, but we didn't know quite what would happen. It looks a fabulously interesting contest.
"There is quality at the top end of the entries for the Investec Oaks, with Classic winners. We were expecting less entries for the Oaks than the Derby, but are pleased the quality is there.
"Investec Derby Day for 2020 is a neatly framed card. The Investec Woodcote EBF Stakes will be run under its usual conditions, with the G3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes (Sponsored by Investec) for three-year-olds only this year as it is serving the purpose of the Distaff race that is usually run on Eclipse Day at Sandown Park but is not being run this year. It is a one off for this year, with the Listed Investec Surrey Stakes opened to older horses this year."
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