With the turf season now in full swing UK racing punters turn their attention to the Epsom Derby. In our guide to betting on the Epsom Derby, we look to assess which horse will be the winner of the world's most prestigious and coveted prize in horse racing.
2016 Epsom Derby will race at Epsom Downs Racecourse on June 4th.
1- Look for horses with Epsom experience or at least a similarly contoured track
The demands of the Epsom racecourse are unique, with undulations and sharp turns making the course a difficult test for all. Look out for runners with experience of similar tracks such as Lingfield or Chester, where balance is at a premium and it can pay to race handily close to the pace. Horses who hang or struggle to take the turns at speed on summer ground are always best avoided, and several highly regarded types have failed to handle Epsom at all and bombed out on the day.
2- Concentrate on the top trainers who know what it takes
Aidan O'Brien has trained the winner of the Blue Riband five times since the year 2000, and carefully maps the careers of his best horses directly towards winning at Epsom. The value of the stud operation at Ballydoyle is dependent on winning the top prizes in the calendar, and much of the interest in the run up to the big day is focused around the pecking order among the 3-y-o's in his care. Last year John Gosden snapped the winning sequence when Golden Horn impressively landed the spoils under Dettori, justify hefty ante-post support in the run up to the race in the process.
3- Try and build up a portfolio ante-post on the run up to the main event
Come the day of the big race much of the value will have dried up and the fancy prices about the principal contenders disappeared. Try and back several horses in the months and weeks leading up to the big day, playing each-way and trading your fanices on betfair to create an advantageous position.
Obviously this comes with risks attached, although the main contenders now tend not race too much and will more than likely fulfill their entry unless injury or accident intervenes (prohibitive entry costs mean only serious contenders only are targeted at the race).
4- Stick to proven middle distances performer you know will stay the trip thoroughly
Many horses who are crack milers get tempted into the Epsom Derby picture by connections desperate for a tilt at the top prize. These horses are often well backed because of the impressive turn of foot shown at shorter trips, but this is not a race for speed merchants and more often than not develops into a war of attrition won by the most thorough stayers. The best example of this in recent history was Sir Michael Stoute's Ajdal who, after finishing tailed off legless in the Derby, turned up to win the Group 1 July Cup over six furlongs in impressive fashion (even the best trainers get it wrong sometimes!).
5- Forget hyped up "talking horses" and stick to what your eyes tell you from watching the top Derby trials
Year after year the top trials such as the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket or the Dante at York produce future Derby winners. Talk of catching pigeons at home or "the best we have ever had" is worthless compared to what they achieve on the track. As with so much racing in general, you are much better off shutting your ears and keeping your eyes open. Watch the established Derby prep races over and over, looking away from the obvious and searching for unconsidered angles. In more recent years the Derby trials at Lingfield and Chester have not been of the required standard, but experience of those tricky courses can be a valuable asset for the future.
Recent Epsom Derby Winners
|1996||Shammit||Michael Hills||William Haggis||2:35:05|
|1997||Benny the Dip||Willie Ryan||John Gosden||2:35:77|
|1998||High Rise||Olivier Preslier||Luca Cumani||2:33:88|
|1999||Oath||Kieren Fallon||Henry Cecil||2:37:43|
|2000||Sinndar||Johnny Murtagh||John Oxx||2:36:75|
|2001||Galileo||Michael Kinane||Aidan OBrien||2:33:27|
|2002||High Chaparral||Johnny Murtagh||Aidan OBrien||2:39:45|
|2003||Kris Kin||Kieren Fallon||Sir Michael Stoute||2:33:35|
|2004||North Light||Kieren Fallon||Sir Michael Stoute||2:33:72|
|2005||Motivator||Johnny Murtagh||Michael Bell||2:35:69|
|2006||Sir Percy||Martin Dwyer||Marcus Tregoning||2:35:23|
|2007||Authorized||Frankie Dettori||Peter Chapple-Hyam||2:34:77|
|2008||New Approach||Kevin Manning||Jim Bolger||2:36:50|
|2009||Sea The Stars||Michael Kinane||John Oxx||2:36:74|
|2010||Workforce||Ryan Moore||Sir Michael Stoute||2:31:33|
|2011||Pour Moi||Mikael Barzalona||Andre Fabre||2:34:54|
|2012||Camelot||Joseph OBrien||Aidan OBrien||2:33:90|
|2013||Ruler Of The World||Ryan Moore||Aidan OBrien||2:39:06|
|2014||Australia||Joseph OBrien||Aidan OBrien||2:33:63|
|2015||Golden Horn||Frankie Dettori||John Gosden||2:32:32|
|2016||Harzand||Pat Smullen||Dermot Weld||2:40:09|
|2017||Wings Of Eagles||Padraig Beggy||Aidan OBrien||2:33:02|
|2018||Golden Masar||William Buick||Charlie Appleby||2:34:93|
6- Work out how the race will be run and consider the draw in huge fields (low is best)
A low draw in the Derby can a big advantage, especially when the field sizes is large. A handy racer can soon take up a good position without expending too much energy, while those drawn high in the car park usually have to take a pull/drop in and come from miles back (and need all the breaks on the camber when getting a run). Many Derby's have been lost through bad luck in running, and securing a good early pitch is vital.
7- The going on the day
Clerk of the course Andrew Cooper has several decades of experience at producing good, fast summer ground for this meeting. This year will be no exception, with a very wet spring meaning the course has excellent grass cover and will be in peak condition. It is worth noting that some of the trials, especially in Ireland at the start of the season, are run on a much softer surface and the form does not always translate to Epsom in June.
8- The top jockeys with a cool head and experience tend to prevail
With the exception of the youthful Mickael Barzalona on Poir Moi in 2011, the Epsom Derby has been won by the "old hands" in the weighing room. Ryan Moore, Dettori, Fallon, Murtagh all had many years of riding experience and did not get flustered or overawed by the big occasion (and of course were on the best horses). It is significant with the top yards as to who rides what, with the merits tested at home as well as the track, and the choice of champion Ryan Moore always has a stark effect on the price of his chosen mount (while Dettori has a huge public sentimental following that proved fruitful in 2015).
9- Take advantage of all the best prices and bookmaker offers available on the day
With racing more and more of a loss leader for many firms, the value on offer can be incredible for the more discerning punter. Not only are the best prices available rarely over 100pc when taken collectively, but there is a huge range of enhanced prices and concessions available on the day of the big race. Check the invaluable bettingexpert free bets page for a summary of the best available on the 2019 Derby, and make sure you have a full range of accounts funded and ready to take advantage.
10 - 2019 Epsom Derby Best Bet
Head back here closer to the race to find out our best bet for the Derby!
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