Frankie Dettori will take the ride aboard Investec Derby favourite English King at Epsom on Saturday week, trainer Ed Walker has confirmed.
The son of Camelot stamped himself as a leading contender for the premier Classic with a hugely impressive display in the Lingfield Derby Trial earlier in the month and is now a best priced 7-2, ahead of Andrew Balding’s 2000 Guineas hero Kameko at 5-1.
Tom Marquand was on board English King at Lingfield, but is set to be replaced at Epsom by Dettori, who steered the remarkable Stradivarius to a third Gold Cup success at Royal Ascot last week for English King’s owner, Bjorn Nielsen.
Walker told PA: “Frankie is going to ride English King in the Derby.
“I feel desperately sorry for Tom, and it is absolutely no reflection of our faith and trust in his ability.
“Bjorn and I mulled it over and watched all the trials, and it became increasingly clear John (Gosden) wasn’t going to have a Derby runner. After Tom won on the horse at Lingfield he asked if he’d keep the ride in the Derby, and I said to him ‘your only danger is Frankie’.
“Frankie obviously has a wealth of big-race experience and raises his game to stratospheric heights for the big races. We feel very privileged to have him on board.”
Stradivarius was one of six Royal Ascot winners for the popular Italian, who will be bidding for a third win in the Derby following his previous triumphs aboard Authorized in 2007 and Golden Horn in 2015.
Walker added: “The Derby is the Derby, and Frankie is Frankie. It’s very tough on Tom – but he has never ridden in a Classic around Epsom before, and I hope he’ll have other big days with us in the future, very possibly on this horse.
“It will be my first runner in the Derby – fingers crossed we get there – and having Frankie Dettori on board will just give me a bit of confidence as well, and obviously Frankie and Bjorn have the connection through Stradivarius.
“It wasn’t an easy decision. I’m sure it won’t be too long before Tom is jocking people off left, right and centre.”
English King enjoyed a Monday morning workout in Lambourn and is reported to be in fine fettle by his trainer.
“He’s in cracking form – really well in himself. I just hope we can keep him in the same form for the next 12 days,” said Walker.
“We haven’t organised when it will happen yet, but Frankie will come and sit on him between now and the Derby.”