Epsom Derby odds 2015: the intelligent punter's guide
The classic flat race takes place on Saturday. Here's how to give yourself a chance of beating the bookies
The Epsom Derby, often called the greatest and most prestigious horse race in the world, will be run at 4.30 pm this Saturday, live on Channel 4. The annual flat race for three-year-olds over one mile and four furlongs was first run in 1780. Today the race is worth a cool £1,325,000.
So, how can we beat the bookies and find the winner among the 12 runners? Six key factors need to be taken into account. They are:
Derby winners need to have speed, but they also need plenty of staying power as Epsom is a demanding, undulating track.
Most of the horses won't have run over a mile and a half before so to decide if a horse will stay the trip we need to look at two things: its breeding and how it has finished races over shorter distances.
The stamina index of the horse's sire can provide us with a good indication of whether the horse is likely to stay; only one horse has won the race in the last decade whose sire's stamina index was less than 9.1f (ie 1 mile 1 furlong).
Outsiders don't win the Derby very often: the last ten winners have all come from the first three in the betting and the biggest price winners this century have both been 7-1. Favourites or joint favourites have won five of the last 11 Derbys. However, when it comes to each-way betting, don't be put off backing an outsider as longer-priced horses do make the frame: in the last ten years we've seen horses finish second at 100-1 and 66-1.
The best Derby trial of them all is the Dante, run over 1m 2f at York in May. Four Dante winners, plus one unlucky runner-up, have gone on to win at Epsom over the past 18 years. Three Derby winners since 1999 had won races at the Chester May meeting, including 2013 winner Ruler of the World, who won the Chester Vase. The Derrinstown Stud Derby trial at Leopardstown in Ireland has also given us three Derby winners since 2000 (and placed horses, too). The Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster is not a Derby 'trial' as such, as it's for two- year-olds and run over one mile the previous autumn, but it has proved quite a good guide: since 2000, four winners have gone on to win the following year's Derby.
It usually pays to stick with horses that have kept the best company: ten of the last 11 Derby winners had already won a group race and the one that didn't - Workforce, in 2010 - was an unlucky loser in the Dante when his bit slipped. No horse that has run in a handicap has won the Derby in the last 30 years.
Pay attention to where the horses are drawn. Ideally, you don't want to be backing a horse drawn too low or too high. No horse coming out of stall one has finished better than sixth in the last 11 years, and none has won this century. No horse with the highest draw has won since the 1960s. Conversely, horses drawn either four, five or ten have chalked up seven victories in the last 14 years - with "lucky" stall ten providing the winner seven times since 1986, most recently in 2013. In six of the last seven years a horse drawn 10-12 has finished in the frame.
Take a look at who the horse's sire is. Seven of the last ten winners were sons of either Montjeu or Galileo, who won the 2001 Derby. Sea the Stars, the 2009 winner, was a half-brother of Galileo.
Epsom Derby 2015 odds: the runners
Now let's take a closer look at the field in race-card order:
1. CARBON DATING
Best odds: 250-1. Draw: 4. Sire's stamina index: 8.4f.
He's yet to win a race and indeed has only beaten one runner in his last three outings. In short, a massive outsider and very hard to fancy despite having a good draw.
2. ELM PARK
Best odds: 7-1. Draw: 3. Sire's stamina index: 9.3f.
He won last year's Racing Post Trophy, which is a positive, but needs to improve on his third place in the Dante behind Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs to reverse the form with those rivals. However, the York race was his first run of the campaign and he should do better here – especially if there are a few downpours at Epsom to improve his chances.
Best odds: 20-1. Draw: 1. Sire's stamina index: 11.3f.
This French raider won all three of his races as a two-year-old and his sire - Rail Link - won an Arc de Triomphe. Not without an each-way chance, but the concern for his backers is that he refused to go into the stalls last time out. In addition, he's got a poor draw to overcome too.
Best odds: 8-1. Draw: 9. Sire's stamina index: 11.2f.
He needs to improve on what he's achieved so far (he was only second in a Group Three last time), but there are solid grounds for believing he will. His trainer, Aidan O'Brien, has won the race for the last three years (and five times in all). He's also got the perfect pedigree: he's by the successful sire Galileo - who won the race in 2001 - and he's the brother of the 2013 winner, Ruler Of The World.
5. GOLDEN HORN
Best odds: 6-4. Draw: 8. Sire's stamina index: 9.1f.
He's the favourite and you could say the race revolves around whether he stays the trip. It was originally planned to run him in the French Derby (over 1m 2.5f), but his impressive win in the Dante in May inspired a rethink. Now, despite his owners having previously expressed doubts over the horse's stamina, he's lining up for the longer race. His sire, Cape Cross, has produced two Epsom classic winners, including the very impressive 2009 Derby winner, Sea the Stars. His chances of staying will improve if there's no substantial rain at Epsom before the race.
6. HANS HOLBEIN
Best odds: 16-1. Draw: 2 . Sire's stamina index: 11.8f.
Bred for the part. His sire Montjeu has sired four Derby winners and two runners-up, and he also demonstrated that stamina won't be a problem when staying on strongly to land the 1m 4f Chester Vase. Trained by Aidan O' Brien, who has won the last three Derbys, he could well make the frame.
7. JACK HOBBS
Best odds: 9-2. Draw: 10. Sire's stamina index: 10.8f.
He stayed on to take second place in the Dante and on the evidence of that run and his breeding, the step up to a mile and a half should suit. He's well drawn, too, in "lucky" stall ten, but while he could hit his rivals for six - his trainer John Gosden has called him "a mighty improving horse" - he does fall down on two key stats: he's yet to win a group race and no Derby winner for 30 years has previously run in a handicap. His participation could also be in doubt, unless rain arrives in time at Epsom.
Best odds 20-1. Draw: 6. Sire's stamina index: 10.5f.
His father is a Derby winner (High Chaparral) and he's trained by Aidan O'Brien, but while he should stay, he'll have to improve quite a bit on his form to date. It's overstating it to say he has a mountain to climb, but he does look the least likely of the Ballydoyle trio.
Best odds 50-1. Draw: 5. Sire's stamina index: 10.5f.
Coming in eighth in the 2000 Guineas, he should do better over a longer trip – after all, he's the son of the 2002 Derby winner High Chaparral. But he doesn't look to have the class of a Derby winner judging by his runs to date and his odds seem to be a fair reflection of his chances.
10. ROGUE RUNNER
Best odds: 100-1. Draw: 11. Sire's stamina index: 9.0f
This German raider could only finish fifth in a German Group Three race on his latest start. His sire, King's Best, did produce the 2010 Derby winner Workforce, but he would have to show a big improvement on his form to date if he's to figure in this Derby.
11. STORM THE STARS
Best odds: 20-1. Draw: 7. Sire's stamina index: 10.0f
Second behind Hans Holbein in the Chester Vase, he could be one of the better outsiders as he should stay (his sire is the 2009 Derby winner Sea the Stars). His trainer, William Haggas, has a 50 per cent strike rate in the race, having saddled just two runners.
12. SUCCESS DAYS
Best odds: 16-1. Draw: 12. Sire's stamina index: 8.3f.
This Irish-trained runner won the Derrinstown trial at Leopardstown in May and he's the joint-second highest rated horse in the race. There are concerns, however: the ground at Epsom is likely to be a lot quicker than he's experienced up to now; his sire's stamina index is low; and no horse has won the Derby from the widest draw since 1967.