Derby day is a huge one on the sporting - let alone racing - calendar.
The race, a supreme challenge for three year olds over the unique undulating Epsom Downs track, remains the most prestigious Flat race in the world. It is staged for the 242nd time in 2021 and sponsored for the first time by Cazoo. Its prize fund stands at £1.125 million for 2021.
In 1776, ‘Gentleman’ Johnny Burgoyne, a soldier, playwright and politician who married into the Derby family and had passed on the lease of his Surrey mansion, the Oaks, to the 12th Earl of Derby, Edward.
Smith-Stanley, urged his friend to introduce a race for three-year-old fillies over a mile and a half to emulate old comrade in arms Anthony St Leger, founder of the St Leger at Doncaster.
Three years later, on May 14, 1779, the Downs above the spa town of Epsom, hosted the initial Oaks and, appropriately, Lord Derby’s Bridget was victorious. At a celebratory party that evening, Burgoyne proposed, because the Oaks had been such a great success, a similar race should be founded for both colts and fillies.
Sir Charles Bunbury, a distinguished figure in the world of horseracing, was behind the concept of racing over a mile or a mile and a half. Legend has it that Bunbury and Derby discussed the possibility and all that was left to do was name the race. Apparently, it was the toss of a coin in the latter’s favour that secured the race title, which started a worldwide franchise and lives on as strongly as ever.
On May 4, 1780, the inaugural Derby Stakes was run for £1,065 15s. Despite losing the flip of the coin, Bunbury gained some compensation when Diomed carried his pink and white silks to success over a mile. The distance was changed to the present mile and a half in 1784.
By the middle of the 19th century, the Derby had established itself as the most important race of the year in Britain, with many thousands flocking to Epsom Downs where there was also a huge fair.
There is a hugely illustrious roll of honour, which includes in modern times Sea-Bird, Nijinsky, Mill Reef, Shergar, Nashwan, Generous, Lammtarra, Galileo, High Chaparral, New Approach, Sea The Stars and Golden Horn.
The Cazoo Derby, Cazoo Oaks and Coral Coronation Cup are all part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
Epsom betting odds are available through all major online bookmakers including Sky Bet, Paddy Power and Betfair, who price up the majority of the races well in advance.
Bookmakers also offer Best Odds Guaranteed meaning if the Starting Price (SP) is greater than the odds you take at the time, you get paid at the bigger price.
Aidan O'Brien is bidding to win the Cazoo Derby for a remarkable ninth time and saddles the favourite this time around in Bolshoi Ballet. The home defence is led by Dante winner Hurricane Lane and the promising pair John Leeper and Mohaafeth.
It's a similar story in the Cazoo Oaks with Santa Barbara and Snowfall dominating the market for the Ballydoyle team. Teona and Zeyaadah, both trained by Roger Varian, are the shortest price of the British runners.
Bookmakers can become extra-generous around the time of Epsom and often launch favourable sign-up offers and give away free bets to new and existing customers.
Free bets for Epsom vary per bookmakers but are generally in plentiful supply in the run-up to the big week, while you will have plenty of options when it comes to taking advantage of all the enhanced prices, money back specials and extra place offers.
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DAYS OF THE WEEK
The Derby has been run on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, and usually takes place on the first Saturday in June. It was permanently switched from Wednesday to Saturday in 1995.
The first Derby in 1780 was run on May 4th – the Classic’s earliest staging during a year - while the 1917 renewal was the latest on July 31st.
The Derby course at Epsom Downs is in the rough shape of a horseshoe. From the start, 360 feet above sea level, there is a slight right-handed bend and a rise of some 134 feet sweeping leftwards until the top of the hill. A left-hand descent of 34 feet around Tattenham Corner leads into the cambered straight where there is a 50 feet drop until half a furlong out where the ground level rises by 10 feet. The present course, with the start moved to the hill opposite the grandstands, was used for the first time in 1872.
2m 31.33s – Workforce (2010)
Longest – 10 lengths (1981 Shergar)
Shortest – short-head (since 1945 – 1972 Roberto, 1984 Secreto, 1998 Benny The Dip, 2006 Sir Percy)
There have been two dead-heats in Derby history. In 1828 - Cadland and The Colonel, with the former winning the run-off later that afternoon and in 1884 when St Gatien and Harvester could not be separated.
There was a four-way photo-finish to the 2006 Derby, with a short-head, head and short-head separating the first four, and it was all the way back to 1913 for a similarly close battle to the line.
The only Derby winner to be disqualified for an incident in the Classic was Craganour in 1913. The stewards judged that the 6/4 favourite had been guilty of ‘bumping and boring’ the runner-up Aboyeur, the 100/1 shot who was awarded the prize. The outcome of the 1844 race was decided in a court of law six weeks later, when the ‘winner’ Running Rein was revealed as a four-year-old, Maccabeus, and the race awarded to the runner-up Orlando.
Largest – 34 (1862) Smallest – 4 (1794). There is now a safety limit of 20 for The Cazoo Derby.
The photo-finish camera decided the Derby result for the first time in 1949 when Nimbus landed the spoils by a head from French raider Amour Drake.
Epsom Downs installed a watering system in 1965, ahead of Sea-Bird’s victory.
Starting stalls were first used for the 1967 Derby, which was won by the Royal Palace, drawn 19 of the 22 runners.
MOST SUCCESSFUL DRAW
Stall 10 with 10 winners since 1967, most recently Masar in 2018. Stall five is the second most successful with six winners, followed by stall nine with five winners. For full details, see table below.
LEAST SUCCESSFUL DRAW
No horse drawn 2, 11, 16 or 20 has won The Derby since the introduction of starting stalls in 1967.
DRAW WINS MOST RECENT
1 5 Oath (1999)
3 3 New Approach (2008)
4 - 4 Sea The Stars (2009)
5 6 Camelot (2012)
6 3 North Light (2004)
7 3 Anthony Van Dyck (2019)
8 3 Golden Horn (2015)
9 5 Harzand (2016)
10 10 Masar (2018)
12 2 Serpentine (2020)
13 - 2 Kahyasi (1988)
14 4 Wings Of Eagles (2017)
15 2 Sinndar (2000)
17 - 2 Empery (1976)
18 1 Shirley Heights (1978)
19 1 Royal Palace (1967)
WINNING HORSE FACTS & FIGURES
LETTERS OF THE ALPHABET
There are only three letters of the alphabet with which a Derby winner’s name has not begun - U (Umiddad was beaten a head in 1943), X and Z (Zionist was second in 1935). The most popular initial letter is S with 44 triumphs, and the most successful number of letters is eight, with 46 victories.
High-Rise (1988) is the most recent of four Derby winners with a hyphen in his name. The others were Sea-Bird (1965), Mid-day Sun (1937) and Lap-dog (1826).
Five winners of The Derby have had the prefix St of whom St Paddy (1960) was the latest. However, the most popular prefix has been Sir, seen eight times, most recently with Sir Percy in 2006.
COLOUR OF WINNERS
Because of the way the genetic transmission of coat colour works, most thoroughbreds are bay or brown.
Of the 242 (including one set of dead-heaters) winners of The Derby, 176 have been bay or brown, 60 have been chestnut, four have been grey and two have been registered as black.
Two – Smolensko (1813) and Grand Parade (1919).
Four – Gustavus (1821), Tagalie (1912), Mahmoud (1936) and Airborne (1946).
Sailor is the only horse to have won the Derby on his actual third birthday – May 18, 1820.
The last Derby winner to wear blinkers was Aboyeur in 1913. Cheek-pieces are a much more recent innovation and Ruler Of The World became the first Derby winner to sport them in 2013.
UNBEATEN DERBY WINNERS
Nine Derby winners retired unbeaten: Sailor (two races) 1820; Middleton (one race) 1825; Bay Middleton (six races) 1836; Amato (one race) 1838; Ormonde (16 races) 1886; Bahram 1935 (nine races); Morston (two races) 1973; Golden Fleece (four races) 1982 and Lammtarra (four races) 1995.
Debutant Merry Hampton, successful in the 1887 Derby, was the most recent maiden to win.
DERBY WINNER ON SEASONAL RETURN
Lammtarra, the 1995 Derby victor, was the first horse to win the premier Classic on his seasonal debut since Grand Parade in 1919. Amazingly, Shaamit managed the same feat a year later.
UNRACED AT TWO
Ruler Of The World’s Derby victory in 2013 was the most recent by a colt who had been unraced as a two-year-old. Commander In Chief 20 years before that was the previous one, while Morston (1973) and Phil Drake (1955) have been the other two not to have raced as juveniles since 1946.
2000 GUINEAS-DERBY DOUBLE
Thirty-seven Derby winners have previously captured the first colt’s British Classic of the season, the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. Smolensko won both Classics in 1813 and Camelot (2012) is the most recent to do so.
TRIPLE CROWN WINNERS
West Australian (1853) was the first horse to gain the Triple Crown, consisting of three British Classics, the
2000 Guineas over a mile at Newmarket in early May, the Derby over an additional half-mile at Epsom Downs in early June and Doncaster’s St Leger over an extended 14 furlongs. Eleven more colts have tasted Derby victory on route to securing the Triple Crown, most recently Nijinsky in 1970.
A further three Triple Crown winners secured their Classic triumphs at Newmarket during the war years - Pommern (1915), Gay Crusader (1917) and Gainsborough (1918). The latest colt to try and win the Triple Crown was Camelot in 2012 - but he finished second in the St Leger after winning the Guineas and Derby.
DERBY-ST LEGER DOUBLE
Reference Point (1987) became the 35th and most recent Derby winner to also triumph in the final Classic, the St Leger. The first horse to complete the Derby/St Leger double was Champion in 1800. Phenomenon, last in the 1783 Derby, was the first horse to go on from the Epsom Classic and compete in the St Leger, which he won. Camelot, the 2012 Derby winner and attempting the Triple Crown, was the latest to try and win the St Leger, finishing second to Encke at Doncaster.
1000 GUINEAS-DERBY DOUBLE
Only one filly has added The Derby to earlier success in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket. Tagalie in 1912 led from start to finish in both races, taking the Epsom Downs Classic by four lengths under American jockey Johnny Reiff. The last filly to attempt the feat was Cape Verdi, who was ninth at Epsom in 1998 after routing the opposition in the Newmarket Classic.
WINNERS SIRED BY DERBY WINNERS
A total of 48 Derby winners have been sired by Derby winners, the first being the 1798 hero Sir Harry, a son of Sir Peter Teazle (won the Derby in 1787). Anthony Van Dyck (2019) is the most recent, being by the 2001 Derby victor Galileo, who was also trained by Aidan O’Brien.
FULL-BROTHERS TO WIN THE DERBY
Five pairs of full-brothers have been successful in the Classic, but none since Persimmon (1896) and Diamond Jubilee (1900), who were by the great St Simon out of the Ayr Gold Cup winner Perdita II.
HALF-BROTHERS TO WIN THE DERBY
Six sets of half-brothers have won The Derby, the most recent being Galileo (2001) and Sea The Stars (2009).
KENTUCKY DERBY/EPSOM DERBY
In 1992, Dr Devious was the first Derby winner to have run previously in America’s Kentucky Derby over 10 furlongs on dirt. The Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained colt finished a respectable seventh to Lil E Tee at Churchill Downs before beating St Jovite by two lengths at Epsom Downs. The Clive Brittain-trained Bold Arrangement, who finished second in the American Classic at Churchill Downs in 1986, was the first horse to run in both contests, although he fared less well at Epsom Derby, coming home 14th of the 17 runners.
MOST SUCCESSFUL ALL-TIME JOCKEY (9 WINS)
Lester Piggott - Never Say Die (1954), Crepello (1957), St. Paddy (1960), Sir Ivor (1968), Nijinsky (1970), Roberto (1972), Empery (1976), The Minstrel (1977) and Teenoso (1983)
LEADING CURRENT JOCKEYS (2 WINS)
Ryan Moore (Workforce 2010 & Ruler Of The World 2013).
Frankie Dettori (Authorized 2007 & Golden Horn 2015)
RIDING CONSECUTIVE DERBY WINNERS
Steve Donoghue is the only jockey to have ridden three consecutive Derby winners - Humorist (1921), Captain Cuttle (1922) and Papyrus (1923).
LONGEST WAIT FOR A DERBY WINNER (28 RIDES)
Sir Gordon Richards. The 1953 winner Pinza was his 28th and last mount at the age of 49.
MOST DERBY RIDES (36 RIDES)
Lester Piggott rode in The Derby a record 36 times, having his first ride at 15 on Zucchero in 1951, while the legendary jockey’s final mount, Khamaseen, came when he was aged 58 in 1994. Piggott’s association with The Derby continued as Shaamit, the 1996 winner, was trained by William Haggas, his son-in-law.
YOUNGEST WINNING JOCKEYS
John Parsons, 16 years old (Caractacus 1862).
Lester Piggott 18 years old (Never Say Die 1954).
Walter Swinburn, 19 years old (Shergar 1981).
Mickael Barzalona, 19 years old (Pour Moi 2011).
Joseph O’Brien, 19 years old (Camelot 2012).
OLDEST WINNING JOCKEYS
John Forth, at least 60 years old (Frederick 1829). He also had the distinction of having trained the winner, as well as the runner-up, The Exquisite, with both colts returned at 40/1. Scobie Breasley, 52 years old (Charlottown 1966). Charlie Smirke, 51 years old (Hard Ridden 1958). Willie Carson, 51 years old (Erhaab 1994). Mick Kinane, 49 years old (Sea The Stars 2009). Sir Gordon Richards, 49 years old (Pinza 1953).
DERBY AND GRAND NATIONAL
Harry Barker unusually finished second in both The Derby and the Grand National in 1893. He partnered
Ravensbury at Epsom Downs and Aesop at Aintree.
Three female jockeys have ridden in The Derby. Alex Greaves, who partnered 500/1 shot Portuguese Lil in 1996, became the first woman to take part in The Derby – she finished last. Hayley Turner also came last on 25/1 chance Cavaleiro in 2012. Ana O’Brien partnered 66/1 outsider The Anvil, trained by her father Aidan, to finish 17th of the 18 runners in 2017.
FIRST-TIME RIDE SUCCESS
Three jockeys since 2000. Mickael Barzalona (in 2011 on Pour Moi), Padraig Beggy (in 2017 on Wings Of Eagles) and Emmet McNamara (in 2020 on Serpentine).
RIDDEN WINNER OF BOTH KENTUCKY DERBY AND THE DERBY
Steve Cauthen became the first victorious American-born jockey for 65 years when winning the 1985 Derby on Slip Anchor. Cauthen, who captured The Derby again in 1987 on Reference Point, was also the
first jockey to ride the winner of both the Kentucky Derby and The Derby. Cauthen had taken the American Triple Crown, of which the first leg is the Kentucky Derby, on Affirmed in 1978 when aged 18.
DERBY AND OAKS SUCCESS IN THE SAME YEAR
A total of 32 jockeys have partnered the winner of both Epsom Downs Classics in the same year, most recently Ryan Moore, who partnered The Derby winner Workforce and the Oaks scorer Snow Fairy
in 2010. He was the first jockey to achieve this double since Kieren Fallon in 2004.
FIRST FATHER AND SON TRAINING AND RIDING A DERBY WINNER
Joseph O’Brien became the first son of a trainer, who sent out The Derby winner, to be the successful
jockey in 2012, partnering Camelot, trained by his father Aidan, at the age of 19. He repeated the feat in 2014 on Australia, also trained by his dad. Joseph retired from race riding, with an overall record of two Derby wins from five rides in the premier Classic, and started training in 2016. Joseph had his first Derby runner as a trainer with Rekindling, 16th in 2017.
FIRST BROTHER AND SISTER RIDING IN THE DERBY
Joseph’s brother and sister, Donnacha and Ana O’Brien, rode in the 2017 Derby. Donnacha came home 12th on Venice Beach, while Ana finished 17th on The Anvil. Both horses were trained by their father Aidan.
TRAINER FACTS & FIGURES
MOST SUCCESSFUL DERBY TRAINERS
Aidan O’Brien (2001 Galileo, 2002 High Chaparral, 2012 Camelot, 2013 Ruler Of The World, 2014 Australia, 2017 Wings Of Eagles, 2019 Anthony Van Dyck & 2020 Septentine).
Robert Robson (1793 Waxy, 1802 Tyrant, 1809 Pope, 1810 Whalebone, 1815 Whisker, 1817 Azor & 1823 Emilius).
John Porter (1868 Blue Gown, 1882 Shotover, 1883 St Blaise, 1886 Ormonde, 1890 Sainfoin, 1891 Common & 1899 Flying Fox).
Fred Darling (1922 Captain Cuttle, 1925 Manna, 1926 Coronach, 1931 Cameronian, 1938 Bois Roussel, 1940
Pont L’Eveque & 1941 Owen Tudor).
TRAINER WITH SUCCESSIVE WINNERS
Aidan O’Brien became the first trainer to win The Derby three times in succession in 2014 when Australia added to the victories of Ruler Of The World (2013) and Camelot (2012). 17 trainers, including O’Brien, have won the Derby for two consecutive years at least once.
RIDING AND TRAINING A DERBY WINNER
Four men have both ridden and trained a Derby winner - Matt Stephenson, John Forth, Robert Sherwood and Harry Wragg. The last-named partnered Felstead (1928), Blenheim (1930) and Watling Street (1942) to victory and then trained Psidium (1961) to win the premier Classic.
FIRST AND SECOND IN THE DERBY
A total of 12 trainers have saddled the first and second in The Derby, most recently Aidan O’Brien with Wings Of Eagles and Cliffs Of Moher in 2017, his second one-two following High Chaparral and Hawk Wing in 2002.
There have been 22 Irish-trained Derby winners, with 12 coming since the turn of this century.
French-trained challengers have been successful 10 times in The Derby, with Pour Moi (2011) the first French raider to score since Empery in 1976.
In 2013, seven of the first eight home, led by Ruler Of The World, were trained overseas. This feat was also achieved in 2019, where seven of the first eight home were all trained in Ireland, six of those by Aidan O’Brien, including the winner Anthony Van Dyck.
SMALLEST NUMBER OF BRITISH-TRAINED RUNNERS
The 2013 Derby featured three British-trained colts – the smallest number ever.
The last winner of the Derby staged at Epsom to be trained in the town was April The Fifth, sent out by Tom Walls in 1932.
No horse trained in the United States has won The Derby and challengers from across the Atlantic are extremely rare. Iroquois, the 1881 winner, was the first US-bred horse to win the Classic at Epsom Downs. His handler Jacob Pincus was the leading trainer in North America in 1869 before travelling over to Newmarket with Iroquois and other yearlings owned by Pierre Lorillard in 1879. The most recent challenger from the United States was the Michael Dickinson-trained Wolf Prince, eighth to Commander In Chief at 40/1 in 1993.
The Andreas Wohler-trained Chopin became the first German-trained colt to run in the Classic in 2013 and finished seventh. He was followed in 2015 by another German participant Rogue Runner (ninth).
Elaine Burke has done best of the eight female trainers to have saddled Derby runners. Burke was responsible for 2013 runner-up Libertarian.
Aidan O’Brien has saddled 91 runners in the The Derby, with a record eight successes. He had a record eight runners in 2007, when doing best with second Eagle Mountain.
DERBY/GRAND NATIONAL DOUBLE
Five trainers have managed to win Britain’s two most famous races – the Grand National and The Derby. They are George Blackwell (Grand National - 1923 Sergeant Murphy; Derby - 1903 Rock Sand), Richard Dawson (Grand National – 1898 Droghead; Derby: 1916 Fifinella, 1929 Trigo, 1930 Blenheim), James Jewitt (Grand National - 1876 Regal; Derby -1884 Harvester, 1892 Sir Hugo), Vincent O’Brien (Grand National - 1953 Early Mist, 1954 Royal Tan, 1955 Quare Times; Derby – 1962 Larkspur, 1968 Sir Ivor, 1970 Nijinsky, 1972 Roberto, 1977 The Minstrel, 1982 Golden Fleece) and Willie Stephenson (Grand National - 1959 Oxo; Derby – 1951 Arctic Prince).