Epsom Derby Trends
Whenever we cheer home the winner of the Epsom Derby, particularly those we did not back, we always wonder why we had not backed him or indeed we realise that we should have backed him because he fulfilled a trend that we had noticed but failed to react to. The trends we are talking about usually revolve around the following criteria:
- Proven Class
This criteria is applicable to all the Epsom derby runners who go to post for the big race, even those which are not particularly fancied.
Epsom Derby Basic Trends Over Last 15 Years
- Sex favourites or joint favourites have won
- The biggest priced winner in the last 15 years was Wings Of Eagles in 2017 at 40/1
- The shortest price winner was Camelot at 8/13 in 2012. 14 of the last 15 winners were in the top five in the betting.
- UK Trainers have saddled seven winners
- Irish Trainers have saddled seven winners
- France have saddled one winner (Pour Moi, 2011)
- Johnny Murtagh has been the most successful jockey recently with 3 wins in the race.
- All winners had either won or been second in one of the key Epsom Derby Trial races, bar the French-trained Pour Moi in 2011.
- Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien usually has several horses line up for the race. He saddled the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th horses home in the 2009 Epsom Derby and has won the race four times in the last 15 years including thef our of the last six renewals.
Potential Derby winners usually begin their racing careers at the age of two, and usually begin racing over five or six furlongs. As their first season moves on they are tried at greater distances of up to a mile, when it becomes fairly obvious whether or not that they would last, at speed over the Derby distance of 1m 4f.
It is also very apparent to trainers and connections that a horse very often is bred to stay the trip. Either their Sire or Dam or both will have had a good record over the trip at Group 1 level meaning that the breeding should produce a similar ability in their off spring.
Potential Derby winners remain exactly that until they can prove themselves capable of winning a Group 1 or 2 race over a similar distance. This actually is not always the case as many have gone on to win the Derby after being raced over a mile. Sea The Stars for instance had not run further than a mile until he won the Derby last year. However he had won the 2000 Guineas and looked by that run that he could go a lot further, something which he obviously proved he could do.
Not all potential Derby winners run in the 2000 Guineas, their trainers preferring instead to concentrate their efforts over a similar trip, such as the Dante Stakes at York, which is run over of 1m 2f.
Each year Trainers and Owners have concerns over the type of ground their entries are likely to encounter at Epsom. This is simply because not all horses run well on certain ground, which often means that they are withdrawn from the race. Most Derby entries are usually competent on ground that is described as Good or even Good to Firm, but anything softer, such as Good to Soft might be enough to deter connections. The same of course can happen in reverse, but usually for Derby runners it is softer ground that would normally rule them out as by the time the race comes round in June, the ground has usually hardened up from the wet Winter and Spring.
Of course having an unpredictable climate does not help as ground conditions can usually be changed with a sustained period of rain or indeed a sudden and protracted heat wave. It can become a very frustrating time for all concerned, particularly for punters if all of a sudden the horse that they had been following was suddenly pulled from the race. Only once in the last ten years has the race been run on ground with 'Soft' mentioned in the going.
It is almost needless to say, but winning Derby trainers are usually those who are well established in the Flat racing world. The entries of the top trainers from the UK, such as Sir Michael Stoute, who has had five winners of the race should always be respected. But others such as Luca Cumani, Peter Chapple-Hyam, Henry Cecil, Michael Bell and John Gosden are also trainers who will have a potential Derby winner at their stables. From Ireland, Aiden O'Brien has been successful with three winners in the race whilst John Oxx and Jim Bolger have also saddled winners in the last 15 years. Andre Fabre trained the first French winner since Empery in 1976 with Pour Moi in 2011.
Irish jockeys have dominated the Epsom Derby over the past few years, with only Frankie Dettori, Martin Dwyer, Olivier Peslier and Mikael Barzalona the only non-Irish winning jockeys in the last 15 years.