Epsom Derby Betting Tips & Predictions – Saturday 1st June 2019

Gold Cup Day at Cheltenham might run it close, but in terms of a single day’s racing, there are few cards - if any - to which we look forward to more than Derby Day at Epsom. Still the original and still the best, the oft-imitated Derby takes place this coming Saturday and is the undoubted highlight of the weekend’s racing action.

Aidan O’Brien has sent 11 runners here over the last two renewals and he’s set to have a heavy Derby presence one again. One more victory would see him go joint top as the leading trainer of this historic race but Hughie Morrison’s Telecaster looks like putting the celebrations on hold for at least a year.

Top Tips

Telecaster to win @ 5/1

Line of Duty each way @ 50/1

Odds correct at time of writing but may have changed since. Check site for latest prices.

Race Info

1m4f is the trip for the premier Classic of the season. As if the purse wasn’t big enough already, Britain’s most valuable horse race will receive even more money this time around, pushing the total amount awarded to a staggering £1.625m.

GoingDistanceGroupPrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Good 1m 4f 6y 1 £1,625,000 13 1/5 1-3

Recent Winners

Aidan O’Brien has been the dominant force in this contest in recent times, with four wins in the past seven years. Having also recorded two seconds and two thirds over this period, the master of Ballydoyle is rarely far away.

An ability to handle the unique test of Epsom’s flagship event does seem to be passed on through the generations, with six of the past 11 winners having been sired by a previous Derby winner. Non-Derby winning Montjeu and Cape Cross have also fared well with two wins apiece in the last decade.

2018 Masar 16/1 Charlie Appleby William Buick
2017 Wings Of Eagles 40/1 Aidan O’Brien Padraig Beggy
2016 Harzand 13/2 Dermot Weld Pat Smullen
2015 Golden Horn 13/8 John Gosden Frankie Dettori
2014 Australia 11/8 Aidan O’Brien Joseph O’Brien

Analysis: O’Brien dominates field

More than half of the 13 declared runners for this year’s Derby, including the two favourites, come courtesy of O’Brien. The Irishman finds himself in an extremely strong position but it’s interesting that his best hope wasn’t initially a contender. Sir Dragonet, who leads the betting, was one of the late entries for this contest and required O’Brien to stump up a £85,000 late entry fee. Telecaster was the other late renewal, with Hughie Morrison no doubt persuaded by his colt’s sublime Dante showing.

Inexperience no problem for Dragonet

Derby trends tell us that only one of the last 17 wins of the Classic did so having made more than five starts prior. While this spells bad news for Broome, it’s a more promising omen for Sir Dragonet who is set to make his third appearance this Saturday. Much like his stablemate, the race favourite has won both outings this season but he did so over a mile-and-a-half. Having proved his stamina, as well as the ability to deal with a challenging course in the Chester Cup, Sir Dragonet is the pick of O’Brien’s contenders here.

Telecaster to steal the show

Hughie Morrison’s decision to run Telecaster here is one that could well pay off. Dante champions have won the Derby four times since 2002 so it’s far from a bad preparatory race. The test at York is two furlongs shy of what runners will face at Epsom but Telecaster ended the 10 furlong contest commandingly as he held off the evens favourite Too Darn Hot. The three-year-old has come on leaps and bounds this season and it’s hard to see the limit to his progress. Also adding to his appeal is that he’s performed on good going, something which Sir Dragonet is untested on.

Back in the firing line

It’s hard to excuse Line of Duty’s completely underwhelming display in the Dante and it leaves him with plenty of questions to answers here. Although there’s not too much indication that an even longer test will suit, at such long odds it’s hard not to be tempted by him. As a two-year-old, Charlie Appleby’s colt showed an abundance of promise, culminating with a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf win. Some horses do fail to progress as three-year-olds but one poor Dante showing isn’t enough to write Line of Duty off just yet.

Final Verdict: Telecaster to win

It’s somewhat a toss of the coin between Sir Dragonet and Telecaster here but longer odds and a proven ground record means the latter should be your main Derby selection. Although shocks in this Classic have been a rarity, we can’t also help resist a small side each way punt on Line Of Duty given the abundance of ability he showed six months ago.


The Queen, Prince Philip and Princess Anne at the Derby
Surrey County Council News, flickr

There are five Classic contests on the British flat racing calendar, all of which bestow a significant quantity of prestige upon the winner. There is however one Classic which sits just a notch above the rest and that is the Epsom Derby.

It’s not the oldest, or the most stamina sapping of the five jewels in flat racing’s crown – both of those honours belong to Doncaster’s St. Leger – nor does it place quite the same demands on speed as the 1000 and 2000 Guineas. The Derby is however viewed as the most thorough and searching test of the Classic generation.

A little bit of everything is needed in order to prevail here. Horses need great stamina to see out the 1m4f trip but they also need the balance to handle the twists, turns and undulations of the unique configurations of the Epsom Downs track. On top of that, they also require a fair dose of speed. Slow horses simply don’t win the Derby.

Taking place on the first Saturday in June each year, the race – in common with the other Classic contests - is open only to three year old runners. Whilst fillies are permitted to take their place in the line-up, it is exceptionally rare to see one do so, making this effectively the championship middle distance event of the season for the most talented three year old colts in training. Here we take a closer look at the most famous flat race in the world, the oft imitated, but never equalled, Derby.

Heads Derby; Tails Bunbury?

George III Coin
Jerry "Woody", flickr

The Derby is now a race name famous the world over, but where did it initially come from? As with so many of Britain’s races, the answer is found amongst the British nobility of years gone by.

Having already named The Oaks after one of his nearby estates, the 12th Earl of Derby was looking for a name for this new race, which was first run one year after the inaugural Oaks of 1779. Rumour had it that the Earl and the Steward of The Jockey Club at the time, Sir Charles Bunbury, flipped a coin for the right to have the race named in their honour. The coin came down in the Earl of Derby’s favour, and history was set.

But for the fall of that coin we may well be referring to this race as the Epsom Bunbury, and also have the likes of the Kentucky Bunbury, Australian Bunbury, French Bunbury and the New Zealand Bunbury on the international calendar. Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it somehow. Sir Charles did have a race named in his honour in the end in the form of Newmarket’s Bunbury Cup. Again, just not quite the same!

Little Change In Over 200 Years

The 1780 inaugural running of the race looked a little different to the event we know and love today, taking place as it did over the shorter trip of one mile. The race length was increased to 1m4f as early as 1784 though, and has remained that way ever since.

The Derby has called Epsom home for every edition of the race other than during the war years, when necessity dictated that it be moved to the traditional home of British flat racing, Newmarket. For a race with such a long history, remarkably little has changed over the (many) years.

The Derby: A Road To Riches

Whilst the trip and location have remained largely consistent over the years, the prestige and value of the contest have continued to grow and grow. Worth just over £1,065 to connections of the very first winner, prize money now stands at a whopping £1.5m (2018) making this Britain’s richest flat race. That is not an inconsiderable sum in its own right, but when we also factor in the fact that winners of the race often go on to a multimillion-pound career at stud, we get some idea as to why this race is such a big deal, and the one everyone wants to win.

Chart Showing the Epsom Derby's Prize Money Breakdown

Fastest Derby Winner

Horse Trainer Jockey Year Time
Workforce Sir Michael Stoute Ryan Moore 2010 2:31:33

Many a legendary racehorse has come home in front in this race over the years, but none have completed the course in quite so quick a time as Sir Michael Stoute’s 2010 winner, Workforce. The son of King’s Best bombed out on his next start after winning here, but proved his class in going on to a famous success in that season’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. As of 2018, Workforce’s winning time of 2m31.33s is yet to be equalled around here.

Largest Derby Winning Distance

Horse Trainer Jockey Year Winning Distance
Shergar Sir Michael Stoute Walter Swinburn 1981 10 Lengths

Never to be forgotten due to the unfortunate events which followed his Epsom triumph, no horse has won this race with such authority as another of Sir Michael Stoute’s winners, Shergar. Tragically kidnapped and reportedly killed by the IRA following his Derby win in 1981, the 10-length beating he handed out to his rivals that day stands as the record winning distance in the race as of 2018.

Longest Priced Derby Winners

Horse Trainer Jockey Year Start Price
Aboyeur Tom Lewis Edwin Piper 1913 100/1
Signorinetta Edoardo Ginistrelli Billy Bullock 1908 100/1
Jeddah Richard Marsh Otto Madden 1898 100/1

The Derby hasn’t been averse to a shock result over the years, with 2018 hero Masar (16/1), and 2017 champ, Wings Of Eagles (40/1), being far from the top of most people’s lists of likely winners. That duo pale in comparison to Jeddah (1898), Signorinetta (1908) and Aboyeur (1913) though, with that trio all defying the compilers to score at a whopping 100/1. Hopefully your great, great grandparents backed them!

Shortest Priced Derby Winner

Horse Trainer Jockey Year Start Price
Ladas Matthew Dawson John Watts 1894 2/9

Results are however often somewhat more predictable. Golden Horn (13/8), Australia (11/8) and Camelot (8/13) being three recent examples of market leaders to have obliged in some style. The shortest priced winner of the lot though came way back in 1894 when Ladas came home in front at a prohibitive 2/9.

Aidan Closing In On Leaders

Chart Showing the Top Epsom Derby Trainers

As we can see from the above table there are a whole host of trainers to have compiled a formidable record in Britain’s greatest flat race, with seven being the magic number leading the way as of 2018. Fred Darling, John Porter and Robert Robson won’t be adding to their totals now, but one man who may yet overhaul them all is Irish training sensation, Aidan O’Brien.

Beginning with 2001 champ Galileo – who has since gone on to become perhaps the greatest sire in history – O’Brien quickly acquired an outstanding record in this race, with two of Galileo’s sons, Australia and Ruler Of The World, helping him to a 2018 total of six wins. With more top talent coming off the Ballydoyle production line year upon year, it would take a brave man to bet against O’Brien claiming the record as his own in the not too distant future.

Piggott Peerless Amongst Riders

Chart Showing the Top Epsom Derby Jockeys

The more you look into the history of Britain’s biggest flat races, the more you realise just how much of a dominant force the great Lester Piggott was during his long and illustrious career.

The Epsom Derby is just another in a long list of top class contests to have fallen under Piggott’s spell, and it is “The Long Fellow” who is way out in front on his own in the list of top riders here. With no current jockey within sight of Piggott at present, this is a record that will likely stand for some time yet.

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