Epsom Derby Stats and Trends

The first Saturday in June marks one of the most significant days in the British racing year. There may be five Classics on the flat calendar, but the Epsom Derby sits at the top of the tree. No race comes close when it comes to the prestige bestowed upon the winner, whilst the fact that the Epsom champ is all but guaranteed a lucrative career at stud makes this one of the most influential races regarding the future shape of the breed.

Now over 240 years old, having debuted back in 1780 when King George III sat atop the throne, the Derby is one of the most historic racing events on the planet and boasts an unparalleled roll of honour – Nijinsky, Mill Reef, Shergar, Galileo, and Sea The Stars being just a small selection of the racing legends to have cemented their place in the sport’s folklore with a win in this event

Demanding speed, stamina, and the balance to handle the unique undulations of the testing Epsom course, the Derby is thought to provide the ultimate test of the thoroughbred. Needless to say, it takes a classy three-year-old to master his rivals on the big stage, but what else does it take to prevail? Here, we look back at the 24 editions of the great race between 2000 and 2023 and pick out a selection of stats and trends which may assist in identifying the winner.

Leading Trainers

Epsom Derby Leading Trainers

Aidan O’Brien’s phenomenal record in the Epsom Derby is one of many contributing factors which saw the Ballydoyle supremo inducted into the QIPCO Champions Hall of Fame in 2024. His tally of nine wins makes him the most successful trainer in the long history of the race.

Sir Michael Stoute has fared best of the UK trainers. Having also won with Shergar (1981) and Shahrastani (1986), the Newmarket handler has an impressive overall total of six. Largely thanks to the exploits of O’Brien, the Irish trainers hold the advantage over this period with 13 wins, compared to 10 for the UK and one for France.

Top Jockeys

Epsom Derby Leading Jockeys

Considering Aidan O’Brien’s record in the race, it is no surprise that those riders associated with the Ballydoyle operation have fared pretty well in the Derby. That said, only one of Johnny Murtagh’s and Mick Kinane’s wins came for O’Brien, whilst Kieran Fallon’s Derby successes all came for other trainers, despite the jockey being a regular Ballydoyle rider. However, all names on the above list lie some way behind Lester Piggott, who tops the all-time table with nine wins.

Top Sires

Epsom Derby Leading Sires

Four of the leading sires won the Derby during their racing days, namely Galileo, Sea The Stars, Pour Moi, and New Approach. Of that quartet, it is Galileo that has fared best with five wins.

Pedigree appears to be one of the most significant factors when identifying the Derby winner, with the above table featuring a number of strong family connections. Sadler’s Wells sired Galileo and Montjeu. Galileo, in turn, sired New Approach, Nathaniel, and Frankel, whilst Montjeu sired Pour Moi. Moving away from the Sadler’s Wells line, Cape Cross sired Derby winner Sea The Stars, who sired 2016 champ Harzand.

Finishing Position Last Time Out

Epsom Derby Finishing Position Last Time Out

Results show that most Derby heroes arrived on the back of a positive performance. 16 of the 24 winners (66.67%) won last time out, whilst a massive 23 of 24 (95.83%) finished in the first three. The only exception is 2023 winner Auguste Rodin, who bounced back from an odds-on flop in the 2000 Guineas to show his true colours on the big day.

The Draw

Epsom Derby Draw of the Winner

There isn’t too much in the draw at first glance, with winners emerging from high, low, and middle. However, the stats suggest that it is marginally better to be drawn high rather than low. Stalls 10 and 12 were the most successful over this period, whilst 13 of 24 winners (54.17%) emerged from stall 9 or above.

This stat improves when looking at the relative strike rate of runners drawn high and low, as 12 of the 24 editions featured 13 or fewer runners. Over this period, stalls 1-9 boasted a combined strike rate of 6.02% (13 winners from 216 runners). For runners drawn in stall 10 or above, the respective figure is 8.8% (11 winners from 125 runners).

Fate of the Favourite

With several strong trends – regarding the trainer, sire, and recent form – the Epsom Derby appears to be a relatively punter-friendly race. However, supporting the most obvious contender wasn’t enough to post a profit over the period analysed.

A substantial eight of 24 editions were claimed by the favourite or joint-favourite, representing a solid 33.33% strike rate. Nevertheless, a £1 level stakes punt on the market leader would have produced a loss of £3.51, with plenty of short-priced winners over the years.

The market rarely gets it too far wrong, with 20 of 24 winners returning a single-figure SP. A pair of Aidan O’Brien-trained second or third strings provided the biggest shocks – Serpentine at 25/1 in 2020 and Wings Of Eagles at 40/1 in 2017.

Other Stats

  • The 2000 Guineas and Dante Stakes were the most successful routes into the race over this period – providing six winners apiece; The Derrinstown Derby Trial came next with three
  • 20 of 24 winners had previously won at Group 3 level or above
  • 21 of 24 winners had run within the last 30 days
  • 15 of 24 winners had previously won over 1m2f or further