Epsom Derby Tips: Kameko profile

Kameko is already a dual Group 1 winner.
Kameko is already a dual Group 1 winner.

Nick Seddon profiles leading Epsom Derby contender Kameko, who's looking to complete a classic double having won the 2000 Guineas earlier this month...

Kameko

  • Trainer: Andrew Balding
  • Age: 3
  • Owner: Qatar Racing
  • Races: 5
  • Wins: 3
  • Notable Race Wins: Futurity Trophy (2019), 2000 Guineas (2020)
  • Stall: 11
  • Jockey: Oisin Murphy

Career Record

A $90,000 purchase as a yearling, Kameko was bred to have plenty of ability as a son of Kitten's Joy, and he made an immediate impact on the racecourse when making a winning debut over seven furlongs at Sandown last July, defeating a host of two-year-olds from valuable yards in the process. He was stepped up straight into Group 3 company over the same course and distance in the Solario Stakes the following month, and while he ultimately lost his unbeaten record, he acquitted himself particularly well, only narrowly being denied by a more experienced rival in Positive. 

Kameko was stepped into Group 2 company on his next start, contesting the Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket, and while he was narrowly beaten once again - this time by the Aidan O'Brien-trained Royal Dornoch, he still gave a very good account  of himself. Indeed, he put that experience to particularly good use on his next start, winning the rearranged Group 1 Futurity Trophy at Newcastle in really taking style. 

The presence of the imperious Pinatubo in the division, and the fact that the Futurity is seen as a key Derby trial, meant that many were already looking ahead to stepping Kameko up in trip, though the race also has a strong record with of producing Guineas winners, and Kameko arrived at Newmarket with a live chance.

Oisin Murphy was forced to angle him out to make his challenge, but it was difficult not to be taken with how Kameko was able to forge to the front, and hold off the challenge of Wichita. Connections were initially cautious about his prospects of heading to Epsom, instead suggesting that a mile and a quarter could be his preferred route, but with the Coral-Eclipse closed to three-year-olds this year, Epsom seems likely to be his next port of call. 

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Positives

Standard-setter: One of the oldest cliches in racing is that the 2000 Guineas is the best trial for the Derby, and Kameko has by far the strongest form in the book. He defeated two potentially top-class colts in Pinatubo and Wichita at Newmarket, and there's every chance that he will improve for the step up in trip.

Top jockey: Kameko is partnered by the champion jockey Oisin Murphy, who is the retained rider for Qatar Racing. He's been in fine form since the restart of racing, producing an excellent ride to plot the perfect path for his mount in the Guineas, and similar in-running calculations could well be needed at Epsom.

Negatives

Stamina: While there's certainly a case to be made that Kameko will stay the extra four furlongs of the Epsom Derby, his pedigree suggests that he could be at his very best at a mile and a quarter. The initial cautiousness from his connections about targeting Epsom spoke volumes, and he could be arriving here as a consequence of opportunities in this year's schedule rather than this being the latest stop on a masterplan. 

Must handle Epsom: The Derby is a particularly stern test of a racehorse, as not only do they have to contend with an ultra quick mile and a half trip, they have to do so amidst some particularly challenging undulations, and a largely downhill straight. This will be a new test for Kameko - something which fellow market leader English King has already proven by winning at the very similar Lingfield Park.

How will Kameko fare in the 2020 Epsom Derby?

In the absence of a host of conventional Derby trials, you have to take the winner of the 2000 Guineas seriously, and it looked as though Kameko was certainly an above average winner of the Newmarket classic with the way he was able to gamely defeat two very smart colts in Pinatubo and Wichita.

Whether he's a bona fide 12-furlong horse is open to debate, though the vibes from his connections are strong and he brings the strongest form to the table. If he stays, he'll take some stopping, and he's priced pretty fairly as a 7/2 second favourite at the time of writing - as a colt with a leading chance in an open-looking renewal of the Derby.

Verdict: Leading chance

Tip

Epsom Derby
Kameko silk

Kameko

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Epsom Derby Tips

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