The Derby is a race with a long history and rich traditions. First run in 1780, the Epsom race has been a longstanding staple of the British flat racing season, with fans flocking to watch the events unfold, and many more tuning in on TV. The build-up to the race, which usually takes place on the first Saturday in June, is defined by punters eagerly examining tomorrow’s racecards and tips to try and decide which horse to stick a few quid on.
Of course, this year’s Derby will look a little different. The coronavirus pandemic has meant that horse racing in the UK has been brought to a standstill, with no action having taken place since March 17th. The jumps season was cut short as a result, and the beginning of the flat season has been delayed.
But with different countries across Europe beginning to resume horse racing, including France and Germany, there is hope that the sport’s return in the UK may not be too far away. While the Derby is postponed for the time being, it’s hoped that it won’t be too long before we’re enjoying the famous old race once again. With that in mind, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look back at the past five runnings of the Derby.
2015, Winner: Golden Horn
It was racing legend Frankie Dettori who tasted victory in the Derby in 2015 on Golden Horn. The pair won by a distance of three and a half lengths, a comfortable margin of victory in the end, giving trainer John Gosden his first win in the race since 1997. Golden Horn was 13/8 favourite before the race began, and proved why with a scintillating performance, consigning stablemate Jack Hobbs to a distant second.
2016, Winner: Harzand
The 2016 edition of the Derby brought a maiden triumph in the famous old race for horse, jockey and trainer alike. Harzand was the winner by a length and a half, ensuring an unforgettable moment for jockey Pat Smullen and trainer Dermot Weld. The 13/2 Harzand held off the challenge of the pre-race favourite US Army Ranger, trained by Aidan O’Brien.
2017, Winner: Wings of Eagles
O’Brien would taste victory in the Derby a year later, though not with the horse many had predicted to win. It was the 40/1 shot Wings of Eagles who soared to produce a fine performance along with jockey Padraig Beggy, beating one of O’Brien’s more fancied horses Cliffs of Moher by three quarters of a length. It was a stunning triumph, and one that highlighted the great unpredictability of sport.
2018, Winner: Masar
The following year brought something like a return to normality in terms of the Derby winner’s pre-race odds, although at 16/1,Masar certainly wasn’t the favourite. But a fine display from the three-year-old gave jockey William Buick and trainer Charlie Appleby their maiden triumph in the Derby. The odds-on favourite Saxon Warrior, trained by O’Brien and winner of the 2,000 Guineas earlier that year, was consigned to a distant fourth-place finish.
2019, Winner: Anthony Van Dyck
O’Brien secured his seventh win in the Derby last year, as Seamie Heffernan rode Anthony Van Dyck to victory by half a length. It was a first victory in the Derby for Heffernan – rich reward for a jockey who has been around the block and been a stalwart for O’Brien throughout his career.