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Epsom Derby Trends – Who the Stats Point to in British Racing’s Flagship Event

The Epsom Derby is rapidly approaching. With time ticking down until the race gets underway, Dave Young has analysed the best statistics and trends to pick out three horses who should run well.

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The Epsom Derby is the absolute pinnacle of Flat racing and although we’re missing this year’s 2,000 Guineas winner, we’re hopefully still in for a treat.

There is no such thing as a bad Derby winner and while the cream usually rises to the top there have been a few shocks over the years so I’ve taken a delve into the last 10 runnings to see if we can fathom out who is going to add their name to this illustrious list, shock or not.

  • ALL of the last 10 winers had lost their maiden tag
  • 9 of the last 10 winners were drawn stall 7 or higher (the other drawn stall 1)
  • 9 of the last 10 winners finished top 3 last time out (last year the exception)
  • 8 of the last 10 winners were sent off 5/2 or shorter last time out
  • 8 of the last 10 winners had won as a 2yo (the two who hadn’t only raced once)
  • 8 of the last 10 winners had been beaten before
  • 8 of the last 10 winners ran 28 days ago or less
  • 8 of the last 10 winners had raced over at least 9.5f

Further 10 Year Trends

  • 7 of the last 10 winners won over the further trip they had run
  • 6 of the last 10 winners were officially rated 117+
  • 6 of the last 10 winners had achieved an RPR of 118+

Using the 10 Year Trends from above we can whittle the field down quite significantly even before the draw has been made and we’re left with three main targets to discuss. The further trends would bring us back to square one as each of the final three have NOT won over the furthest trip they have run at, nor are any rated 117+ or with an achieved RPR of 118+. However, they could be useful if you wanted to forgive some horses who fell short of ticking all boxes for the original 10 year trends.

ANCIENT WISDOM – Top Price 5/1

Charlie Appleby’s ANCIENT WISDOM was second in this year’s Dante and while both Golden Horn & Desert Crown won that race before tasting Derby success it wasn’t a race where he was asked for too much in defeat. Winning last time out would typically feel like a positive trait for a race such as a Derby but half of the last ten winners were beaten last time out so it’s clear that many are left with progress to come and I think this is true of Ancient Wisdom.

There could be stamina doubts with this horse however we know what Postponed was able to achieve at this trip from the same sire Dubawi and the dam side for this lad has stamina in abundance. We’ve had winners of the derby who haven’t raced beyond a mile so there’s often the unanswered question for the eventual winner and let’s not forget he shares his dad with Champion Chaser Dodging Bullets.

There hasn’t been a Group 1 winning 2yo winner of the Derby in these last ten years and most of the last ten winners (eight of the last ten) achieved a higher RPR as a 3yo than a 2yo prior but with the current favourite requiring forgiveness for his latest effort and physically looking still very much like a 2yo, I’m prepared to forgive Ancient Wisdom too.

ILLINOIS – Top Price 40/1 but general 33/1

ILLINOIS hung quite badly in the Lingfield Derby Trial which was won by Ambiente Friendly but he did show an improved performance on a sounder surface. He’s not hung when running left-handed before, and if you consider that Lingfield just may not have been his track, then you’d could be generous enough to upgrade that last time out effort. Adayar was a beaten favourite in that same Derby Trial finishing in second place so it’s certainly far too early to be writing him off.

40/1 about him seems generous, and while the pecking order at Ballydoyle would have this lad down the list, three of their last four winners were NOT the first string and with 25/1 & 40/1 winners to their name he fits right in the middle.


Despite ticking as many boxes as the first two discussed, GROSVENOR SQUARE might take a little more selling having flopped in the Chester Vase which was on similar ground to what we can expect here, on a track with a configuration very similar to Epsom and over about this Derby trip. He was well beaten back in third and over ten lengths behind the late Hidden Law.

In the last ten years the biggest priced winner we’ve had was Wings Of Eagles for the same yard who SP’d at 40/1 but curiously he was also beaten in the Chester Vase, albeit he wasn’t expected to win having been sent off an 8/1 shot.

Grosvenor Square did take a big step forward as a 2yo from his first run, and again I’ll reference the forgiveness required for City Of Troy and last years Derby winner Auguste Rodin. I know Aidan O’Brien doesn’t talk about this horse in the same way he does City Of Troy or did with Auguste Rodin, but at a massive 50/1 I think he’s shown before that he can handle a fast pace and that being outpaced last time out is probably more due to needing the run and bumping into a serious weapon that was Hidden Law.

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