Bunker can plug gap
View from connections ahead of the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot on Friday.
Richard Hannon had Derby dreams for Bunker through the winter and the trainer expects his charge to strip a good deal fitter tor his run at York.
"Our Derby dream ended when Bunker ran what initially looked a disappointing race in the Dante, but the subsequent performances of The Grey Gatsby and Arod have given the York form a real boost, so perhaps it was not such a bad first run," Hannon told www.richardhannonracing.co.uk.
"He had been off a long time and would have needed it, and the longer distance should also play to his strengths."
Italian raider Dylan Mouth puts his unbeaten record on the line and he already has a Classic in the bag having won the Italian Derby for trainer Stefano Botti, brother of Newmarket-based Marco Botti.
Making his task even harder is the 3lb penalty he must shoulder for his recent win at Capannelle.
"Dylan Mouth is a big, strong colt who stays well," said Botti.
"He won the Italian Derby very nicely, he has won each of his races in Italy and the faster ground should be fine for him.
"He has to carry a Group Two penalty, but we are happy with him and looking forward to seeing how he performs."
The key Derby trial in England is the Dante Stakes at York and while at the time many form students were underwhelmed when The Grey Gatsby ran out a convincing winner, the Kevin Ryan-trained colt subsequently claimed the French Derby while runner-up Arod finished fourth at Epsom.
Fourth in the Dante was James Given's Odeon, a brother to St Leger runner-up Kite Wood.
"The Dante has obviously worked out very well and I hope to find out that he's improved from it," said Given.
"He should certainly improve for the step up in trip. We knew 10 furlongs in that company would probably be too sharp for him so Graham (Lee) set some hard fractions and the winning time was a good deal quicker than the Musidora, yet he still took some stopping after the line.
"On that basis he will clearly stay and there hasn't been one day since the Dante that I would have done anything different with him.
"He wasn't far behind a French Derby winner and a Derby fourth, he's drawn nicely and I look forward to seeing what he can do.
"I know this is a big race in its own right but all year all roads have been leading towards the St Leger for him, that is the race I think will suit him best.
"Just a drop of rain would make me a bit more comfortable."
"A mile and a half will suit him down to the ground and we've always thought a lot of him," said Balding.
"He's in great shape and this has been his target."
Sir Michael Stoute's Lingfield Derby Trial winner Snow Sky was forced to miss Epsom with a late setback and was immediately rerouted to this while Aidan O'Brien runs Adelaide, narrowly beaten in a French Group Two on just his second start and an easy winner of the Gallinule Stakes.
John Gosden runs Eagle Top and Derby sixth Western Hymn, with William Buick surprisingly opting for Eagle Top.
William Haggas is represented by Seagull Star with Godolphin's Miner's Lamp running for Charlie Appleby.