Ed Walker is confident English King will have his day in the sun before the season is out, after finishing fifth in the Investec Derby at Epsom.
The Camelot colt shot to prominence for the premier Classic with a brilliant victory in the Lingfield Derby Trial in early June, but ultimately failed to land a telling blow under Frankie Dettori on Saturday as the widely unconsidered Serpentine made every yard of the running.
While disappointed by the result, Walker feels there is a lot to look forward to with his Bjorn Nielsen-owned stable star.
“He’s come out of the race good. It was an unsatisfactory race, from our point of view, but fair play to the winner – he’s obviously a very good, well-bred horse who got loose on the front end and won well on the day,” said the Lambourn-based trainer.
“I’m very proud of our horse. It was frustrating, because there’s only one Derby and it didn’t go our way, but I’m pleased with the way he ran and excited for the future.
“We were never going to ride him aggressively. I thought Frankie gave him a very good ride, and I have no regrets whatsoever.
“I think if you ran the race 10 times he might come out on top a few times, but it wasn’t to be. He finished faster than any other horse in the race, and hopefully there are big days ahead for him.”
While in no rush to firm up future plans for English King, Walker has identified the Grand Prix de Paris in September as a likely aim.
“We’ll let the dust settle and mull over it for a few days,” he added.
“I think an obvious target would be the Grand Prix de Paris, because he’s French-bred and qualifies for the premiums. I wouldn’t rule out the St Leger, but I wouldn’t want to run him on ground any slower than it was at Epsom – rattling quick ground and a nice, even tempo is his gig.
“I don’t think we need to step up in trip, because he’s definitely not a slow horse. The times tell you he finished faster than anything else at Epsom, and he broke a 30-year-old track record when he won at Lingfield.
“We don’t want to overcook it this year – we’re all of the opinion that he’s still a little bit immature and will be an even better horse as a four-year-old, which is exciting.
“I’m 110 per cent not disappointed in the horse at all. I’m disappointed for Bjorn that it didn’t happen on the big day, but we’ve got a proper horse on our hands, which is very exciting.”
Having had time to reflect Dettori said on Sunday afternoon: “I was trying to put a brave face on, but when Ed told me I was drawn one I knew we had a mountain to climb.
“As the stalls opened he jumped left and then I was playing catch up, basically. I was relying on Mogul and Ryan (Moore), the one horse I thought I had to beat, to take me into the race but coming round Tattenham Corner he couldn’t lay up.
“I had Oisin (Murphy, on Kameko) and Ryan in my reach, but the winner had gone and I think the winner’s was a good performance. I wasn’t far away from being second and perhaps if things had gone better I’d have been second or third.
“It was just one of those things, the Derby is like that, and I think the horse has got a nice future.”