So Many Questions to Answer in the Epsom Derby

The Epsom Derby takes place on Saturday June 1. As is always the case with this English horse racing classic, there are so many questions that need to be answered. This year’s race is no exception to that rule.

This is never an easy race to predict and only one of the last eight races has been won by the favourite. That was when Sir Michael Stoute’s Desert Crown won the Epsom Derby in 2022. There have been some big shocks in the past decade with some high-priced winners romping home.

Why is it so difficult to predict who is going to win the Epsom Derby? One problem is the distance of the race. It’s run over a mile and a half and that’s a distance that is new to the entrants.

The 2000 Guineas is run over just a mile and this year’s winner was won by Notable Speech. It’s felt the extra half mile may be beyond him and he won’t be seen again until the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 18, again racing over a mile. Economics won the Dante Stakes at York but he’s another who isn’t going to Epsom as 12 furlongs looks beyond him.

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When looking at who might win the Epsom Derby, the distance has to be considered. Will it bring out an improved performance in a runner? Or will the extra distance prove to be too much and rather than win, your selection runs out of steam. Looking at the horse’s breeding is important. Did their dam or sire run over 12 furlongs and enjoy success?

The course is also another big factor in this race. Running downhill and negotiating Tatnum Corner doesn’t suit every Epsom runner.

Without question, Aiden O’Brien has an excellent record in this race. If he can train the winner this year, it’ll be his 10th success in the Epsom Derby. He saddles the favourite City of Troy but again there are plenty of questions that need to be answered.

City of Troy had an excellent time as a two-year-old in 2023. He built up a huge reputation and was expected to win the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. He went off as the favourite but only finished ninth out of 11 runners. Even so, with some UK bookies he is the 11/4 favourite (odds subject to change) to be this year’s Epsom Derby winner, according to

The big question is why did the three-year-old only beat two horses home at Newmarket? In the race he was doing far too much in the first four furlongs. That left the Aidan O’Brien runner with little left in the tank for the second uphill half mile.

There’s also concern over the fact that City of Troy hasn’t grown a great deal over the winter period. It’s not uncommon for horses that were impressive as a two-year-old to not reach those heights the following season.

Just because a horse has run poorly earlier in the season doesn’t mean they can’t win races in the future. In 2020 Serpentine finished fifth at the Curragh in June and just over three weeks later won the Epsom Derby by five-and-half-lengths.

City of Troy’s sire is Justify and he won over 12 furlongs. If City of Troy can settle in the race, then he might just bounce back in style at Epsom.

In the same situation is another Aiden O’Brien runner, Henry Longfellow. This contender won all three of his races as a two-year-old. His seasonal reappearance was at Longchamp and he finished only eighth. He did run on towards the end and the ground was soft. His dam is Minding, who won the Epsom Oaks in 2016 so the extra half mile may prove beneficial. At 33/1 he looks each-way value.

Charlie Appelby has won this race twice and both of those winners in 2018 and 2021 went off at 16/1. If he was to get a third triumph in 2024, it’s unlikely to be at such high odds. He runs Arabian Crown who is 4/1 to win this race.

The current second favourite won twice as a two-year-old, including winning in Group 3. Unlike the favourite, his only race of 2024 was won. Arabian Crown landed the Derby Trial at Sandown and that was run over ten furlongs. His sire Dubawi finished third in the 2005 Epsom Derby so a good run looks likely in June.

It looks like an open race this year, so who else should be considered? Ambiente Friendly won the Lingfield Derby Trial comfortably and the James Fanshawe runner is 8/1.

Another Aiden O’Brien runner is the unbeaten Los Angeles, who has won over ten furlongs. He looks a live contender at odds of 8/1.

The Epsom Derby is always a fantastic sporting occasion and Arabian Crown looks the possible winner this year.