If Frankie Dettori wins the Derby, it will be all smiles at Epsom and no doubt a flying dismount from the most famous jockey in the world. However, spare a thought for Tom Marquand. He is the regular jockey aboard English King, the current favourite for the race at +350 with BetOnline. With Dettori taking the ride, Marquand misses what would have been his first go in the Derby. The Frankie factor has led to a betting move on English King.
The horse is trained by Ed Walker, who fields his first runner in the Derby. He has justified the decision to take Marquand off the horse by saying the connections must be given “the best possible chance” to win the Derby. Marquand has a 100% winning record in two races on English King and clearly knows what makes the horse tick. Even so, Dettori’s big-race experience won the day.
Obviously, the owner of English King wants his horse to have everything in his favour in the Derby. Winning the race is life-changing because a Derby winner immediately has a huge stud value. It is one of the most prestigious Flat races in the world and potentially the most lucrative in the long run. English King is a worthy favourite for the race but became a bigger contender when Dettori took the ride. Punters back his rides blindly and the professionals will see English King as a good Derby sort.
The horse was initially on offer at +600 after winning the Lingfield Derby Trial. Marquand’s ability was never in doubt, but recruiting Dettori has taken the horse’s profile to another level. Anthony Van Dyck won the same race before winning the Derby last season, while English King recorded the fastest time in 30 years in the prep race. The name of the jockey has solidified his place in the Derby betting market.
It would be most apt if Marquand picked up a spare ride in the Derby and won the race, but running plans for the main stables are unclear. There are 48 horses still in the Derby at the current declaration stage, 19 of which are trained by Aidan O’Brien. The Irish trainer generally employs five jockeys on a regular basis, which means he is usually covered for the major races. However, O’Brien ran seven horses in the Derby last year and guess who picked up one of the spares? Of course it was Dettori, who finished sixth on Circus Maximus. Maybe O’Brien can give Marquand a 2020 Derby ride?
The Irish champion trainer is about +150 to win the Derby for the eighth time. His best prospects are Russian Emperor (+700) and Mogul (+800), and Ryan Moore will no doubt ride one of these horses. Seamie Heffernan and Donnacha O’Brien will probably have the next picks, while Wayne Lordan and Padraig Beggy are usually next in the queue. Marquand could then be considered for an opportunity and it would be poetic justice if his ride won the Derby and English King was second.
Dettori’s two Derby winners were favourites, but he has also been beaten on three other favourites in the race. Some 14 of his 24 Derby rides started at single-figure odds. The Italian jockey has placed in six Derbies, so he has achieved a one-in-three strike rate in making the top three payout places. Epsom is a unique course and Dettori has a vast amount of experience riding the best horses around the track. Marquand, meanwhile, may have to wait a bit longer to ride in the Derby for the first time.