Camelot set to face smallest Derby field in over a century


The withdrawal of three stablemates at the final declaration stage for the Investec Derby at Epsom tomorrow means that Camelot will face the smallest field since Orby likewise met just eight rivals in 1907. Imperial Monarch will instead contest the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly on Sunday, while the further defection of Tower Rock and Father Of Science leaves just Astrology, the front-running winner of the Dee Stakes at Chester, to escort the hot favourite from Ballydoyle. Astrology will be ridden by Ryan Moore.

Joseph O'Brien's mount is likely to start the shortest Derby favourite since Tudor Minstrel in 1947 – in turn the shortest since Cicero won at 4-11 in 1905. But Tudor Minstrel, himself winner of the 2,000 Guineas that spring, could manage only fourth at 4-7 to the shock winner, Pearl Diver. He is one of 14 odds-on favourites to have been turned over in Derby history, the latest being Entrepreneur, fourth at 4-6 in 1997. William Hill is offering 7-4 against Camelot winning by two lengths or more.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien and his son also team up with an odds-on favourite for the other Group One race on tomorrow's card, the Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup, in St Nicholas Abbey. Last year's winner finds himself in a still smaller field, with just five rivals. These include Beaten Up, who suffered his first defeat in Dubai in March, and Masked Marvel, winner of the St Leger last year. Monterosso, winner of the Dubai World Cup, is evidently not considered ready to resume his turf career for Godolphin.

Mirco Demuro, the multiple champion jockey of Italy who won the big Dubai race the previous year, is quickly finding his feet on the British circuit and rode another winner for Mark Johnston at Ayr yesterday. Today he teams up with an old ally in Worthadd, runner-up in the Lockinge Stakes last season, and now with Sir Mark Prescott following the retirement of Vittorio Caruso.

After making a smooth start for his new trainer in Germany, Worthadd will be well fancied for the Investec Diomed Stakes at Epsom.

"It wasn't the greatest Group Three in the world he won in Germany, but I've not had him for most of his life and I thought it was a jolly good start," Prescott said yesterday. "He's well experienced and, from what I know of him, I think he would handle Epsom all right."

O'Brien will scratch Kissed from the Investec Oaks today unless satisfied that there is sufficient give in the ground. Moore, who is scheduled to take the mount, is desperately keen for the unbeaten filly – who is closely related to last year's Derby winner, Pour Moi – to line up.

"I think Kissed is tailor-made for the race," the jockey said in his Betfair blog. "I think she is a high-class filly. Being drawn 14 of 14 isn't ideal. I would prefer to be drawn in the middle. But it's my job to solve that problem. I just hope that I get the chance."