Epsom 2020: Derby & Oaks Insights | Sporting Index

Epsom Insights: Derby & Oaks 2020

Excitement is mounting among racing fans and punters alike as they gear up to watch the finest three-year-olds in the business vie for glory at Epsom this weekend.

The Derby is the richest and most prestigious race in the entire season. It has inspired many famous races across the world, from the Kentucky Derby to the Hong Kong Derby, but the Derby at Epsom is still the greatest spectacle of them all. The Oaks is another fantastic race, featuring many of the world’s best fillies, so we should be in for an exciting weekend.

The Derby History & Winner Trends

The inaugural running of the Derby took place in 1780. It was named after the 12th Earl of Derby, a prominent racehorse owner. Sir Charles Bunbury’s colt, Diomed, stormed to victory in 1780 and earned prize money of £1,065. The race was initially held over 1 mile, but it was amended to the current distance of 1½ miles (1 mile, 4 furlongs and 6 yards) in 1784. The Derby has been a mainstay at Epsom ever since, although it was held at Newmarket during both World Wars. It generally takes place on the first Saturday of June each year, but it had to be pushed back to July this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Derby has traditionally served as the second leg of the Triple Crown, bookended by the 2000 Guineas and the St Leger. Kameko won the 2000 Guineas last month, so he will be among the favourites in the horse racing odds for the Derby. Only three-year-olds can enter the Derby. Three of the last 12 winners were either the favourite or the joint favourite. Sporting Index ambassador Frankie Detorri rode the last victorious favourite when he steered 13/8 shot Golden Horn to glory in 2015. Since then we have seen Harzand win at 13/2, Wings of Eagles win at 40/1 in 2017, 16/1 shot Masar clinched victory in 2018 and 13/2 Anthony Van Dyck seal the win last year.

Favourites may have struggled somewhat – Golden Horn, Australia and Camelot are the only winners in the past 12 years – but nine of the last 12 winners have come from the top three in the betting. However, it is worth bearing in mind that the last three winners came from outside the top three in the betting. It is not worth looking at course form, as none of the past 12 winners had run at Epsom, and it is not a regular stopping point for young racehorses. Form is clearly important though, and 10 of the last 12 winners had at least three previous victories under their belts. They all had secured at least one Group victory. Eleven of the last 12 winners were rated 109 or higher. All of the last 12 winners had run that season, and two-thirds had won that season.

The Derby 2020

2000 Guineas winner Kameko is the second favourite in the antepost betting. He enjoyed a strong two-year-old campaign and established himself as one to watch by clinching the Group 1 Futurity Stakes in November. The 2000 Guineas was his first appearance of 2020, due to the truncated nature of the season, and he went off as a 10/1 outsider. Yet he ran a strong race and found an extra gear to overhaul favourite Pinatubo – the highest rated juvenile in 25 years – and win the race.

You might therefore expect him to be the Derby favourite, but that honour goes to English King. He is a son of former Derby winner Camelot, and he took a maiden win over 10 furlongs at Newcastle in November. He also put in an impressive performance when surging to a two-and-three-quarter-length victory over Berkshire Rocco in the Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield last month. It was a huge marker for the Derby, and he will now bid to become the first favourite to triumph since Golden Horn. Last year’s Derby winner, Anthony Van Dyck, also won the Derby Trial Stakes.

The rest of the field is stacked with quality. Russian Emperor showed an exciting turn of pace when he won the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot. Russian Emperor is one of 17 entries for star trainer Adien O’Brien, who is seeking a record eighth Derby triumph. Another of his leading hopes is Mogul, a full brother to last year’s runner up, Japan, who subsequently won the Juddmonte International Stakes. He could only finish fourth behind Pyledriver in last month’s King Edward VII Stakes, and Pyledriver looks like a contender for the Derby. The likes of Vatican City, Highland Chief and Armory are also strong runners, so we should be in for a thrilling contest.

The Oaks History & Winner Trends

The Oaks will take place an hour and 15 minutes prior to the Derby on Saturday. It is an even older race, having first been run in 1779, the year before the inaugural Derby. It is one of the five Classics, alongside the 1000 Guineas, 2000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger. It is one of two that are limited to fillies, along with the 1000 Guineas. The O’Brien trained Love won the 1,000 Guineas last month, and she will be among the leading contenders for glory at the Oaks.

The Oaks is also limited to three year-olds. Just two favourites have secured victory in the race over the past 12 years: Sariska in 2009 and Minding in 2016. Six of the last 12 Oaks winners had won their previous race. All but one had at least one win under their belts, and half had won at least twice before. This is a race that three-year-olds build up to, so none of the previous winners had ever run over 12 furlongs. However, three-quarters had run at least three times, while seven of the last 12 winners were rated 102 or higher. All 12 had run at least once that season, and eight of them had won that season. Yet only three of the 12 winners had won a Group race.

The Oaks 2020

Love is the clear frontrunner for the Oaks after her dazzling performance in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket last month. She is likely to head the fixed odds betting and the horse racing spread betting. Love won three of her seven races as a juvenile, including the Silver Flash Stakes and the Moyglare Stud Stakes. She ended the season with a third placed finish in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket, behind Quadrilateral and Powerful Breeze. She kicked on over the winter, and looked in fine form when winning the 1,000 Guineas, as she finished more than four lengths clear of Cloak of Spirits and Quadrilateral.

However, she faces stern competition as she bids to add the Oaks to her growing list of victories. Frankly Darling is among the contenders after she won the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot. It was just her third run, but the daughter of Frankel produced a mature performance, with Dettori guiding her to a comfortable victory. O’Brien’s Ennistymon, who was second to Frankly Darling in that race, could also make things interesting if she continues her upward curve. Throw in big names like Gold Wand, Passion and Queen Daenerys, and it promises to be another gripping race.

Will Frankie shine at Epsom after being named top jockey at Royal Ascot? You can back Frankie Detorri to ride the winners of the Oaks, Derby and Eclipse for a special price of 20/1!

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