ANDREW Balding’s 2000 Guineas winner Kameko impressed in a gallop at Kempton on Wednesday ahead of his attempt to join an elite list in the Investec Derby next Saturday.
No Guineas winner has followed-up at Epsom since Aidan O’Brien’s Camelot in 2012, although only Dawn Approach (2013) and Saxon Warrior (2018) have tackled the double. While Kameko is a general second favourite for the blue riband, Balding is trying not to get carried away.
“You’d like to think he’s my best chance of winning it, but we’ve had five runners in it in the past and five disappointments – five big disappointments,” said Balding. “I don’t want to get myself too excited like I did last year, but obviously we’ve got a strong candidate – he’s a Guineas winner going to a Derby. We’ve been really pleased with him, he’s a pleasure to train, a real professional.”
Balding has followed a similar routine with Kameko to that which served him so well before Newmarket.
“He went to Kempton yesterday for a gallop, which we did before Newmarket 10 days prior, and it went well. We had the option of going to Epsom, they kindly offered, but I felt he needed a decent piece of work and I felt more comfortable doing that at a place we’d done it before,” he said. “We were all thrilled. In terms of pointing to his fitness levels, he had a really good blow, I couldn’t be happier.”
However, Balding admits while Kameko’s speed is not in doubt, his stamina will not be proven until the big day.
“Obviously there is no way of knowing (if he’ll stay the trip) until you try,” he said. “The figures show he’s very talented. The whole point of the Guineas and the Derby is that one is a test of speed and the other a test of temperament, stamina and agility. We’ve passed the speed test, now we’ve to pass the other.
“It’s mixed messages in the pedigree, but the key thing for me is that he relaxes really well – which has got to give him a chance. It’s an extra half-mile, but he was hitting the line strongest of all in the Guineas.”