The Stats That Matter: The 2017 Epsom Derby

The most important flat race of the year takes place at Epsom on the 3rd of June and this contest is seen as the ultimate test of a thoroughbred. The 12f trip and undulations of Epsom require a perfect mix of balance, stamina and speed and the winner of this race usually goes on to enjoy a long career at stud.

This year’s renewal looks wide open with 26 horses still standing their ground and with Permian likely to be supplemented. We will try to find the winner by using the stats that matter, so just keep on reading to find out who gets the nod.

Last 5 Winners

Year Horse Trainer Jockey SP
2016 Harzand Dermot Weld Pat Smullen 13/2
2015 Golden Horn John Gosden Frankie Dettori 13/8fav
2014 Australia Aidan O’Brien Joseph O’Brien 11/8fav
2013 Ruler Of The World Aidan O’Brien Ryan Moore 7/1
2012 Camelot Aidan O’Brien Joseph O’Brien 8/13fav


Last Time Out

One of the most important factors to consider when backing a horse for the Epsom Derby is how it performed last time out. Of the last 10 winners 8 either won or came second on their previous run, while the other two finished third. We are excluding any horses that finished outside to top two, and that allows us to narrow the field considerably.

Eminent, an impressive winner on his return and just 7/1 for The Derby, was well beaten in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket last time and he is immediately discounted. He is the shortest priced contender to miss out, while the likes of Tamleek, Rekindling and The Anvil are others that fail to make it past the first round.

Betting Trends

Another crucial trend that has emerged in recent years is the distinct lack of double figure priced winners. High Rise in 1998 at odds of 20/1 was the last winner priced up at bigger than 7/1, so it has traditionally paid to concentrate on the horses at the head of the betting. Three of the last five favourites have won, so the markets are usually spot on when it comes to this race.

Only two horses are priced up at less than 12/1, so we are using 16/1 as the cut-off point. The prices are likely to shorten once declarations are in so the ones we are interested in are Cliffs Of Moher, Cracksman, Best Solution, Venice Beach, Permian and Yucatan. Churchill is still in at odds of 6/1, but he is due to run in the Irish 2000 Guineas and he is unlikely to run in both races.

Pedigree Pointers

The victory of Galileo at Epsom back in 2001 for Aidan O’Brien and Mick Kinane was notable for a couple of reasons. Not only was it the first of many Aidan O’Brien trained winners of the race, Galileo has gone on to be one of the most influential flat racing stallions of all time. He has become a ‘sire of sires’ and he can count the likes of Frankel and Rip Van Winkle among his progeny.

Previous winners of The Derby Ruler Of The World, Australia and New Approach are all by Galileo too, and it is because of him that Coolmore have such a fine record in the race. Of our six remaining contenders three are by Galileo so Cracksman (Frankel), Permian (Teofilo) and Best Solution (Kodiac) are all ruled out.


The Final Cut

So, that leaves us with a trio of top contenders and they hail from the all-conquering Aidan O’Brien yard. Cliffs Of Moher is the shortest price at odds of just 4/1, but his 10f win at Chester was hard work and he wasn’t visually impressive. Yucatan was all out to narrowly beat Douglas McArthur and Capri last time at Leopardstown and that form is unlikely to suffice here.

At odds of 16/1 I prefer the chances of 12f Chester winner Venice Beach, the only one of the remaining contenders that has won at The Derby distance. He made a big impression when shedding his maiden tag at Tipperary (12f gd/yld) and he handled better ground well when winning the Chester Vase (12f gd). He won’t mind what the weather does, his stamina is assured and he is my idea of the most likely winner.

Epsom Derby Prediction: 1. Venice Beach 16/1. 2. Cliffs Of Moher 4/1. 3. Yucatan 16/1.