The Derby is one of the most prestigious races in the world of horse racing. In the United Kingdom, only the Grand National has a greater significance, although even that contest cannot match the purse on offer for the winning party.
The Epsom Downs can make or break the fortunes in the careers of horses, trainers, jockeys and owners over the one mile, four furlongs and six yards of the race. If you win, you have a place in history among the great competitors that have triumphed dating back to 1780.
For bettors, it has huge importance in the flat racing season. The Derby is part of the UK Triple Crown that also includes the 2,000 Guineas and St Leger. However, The Derby is the true test of a horse’s calibre and draws the most attention out of the three from bettors and bookmakers across the world. Eyes will be trained on the performances of horses in the early stages of the campaign but also looking back at displays from the previous season.
The race is a difficult one to predict as the 2020 contest would attest. Aidan O’Brien is the most successful trainer in the history of The Derby, winning the event on eight occasions. His last triumph was more surprising than most given that his charge Serpentine was a 25/1 outsider for the crown. The consensus believed that his leading horses Russian Emperor and Mogul were O’Brien’s best hopes of triumphing, although Andrew Balding’s Kameko was the favourite for the event.
Serpentine produced the best run of the day, excelling on the track to win by a dominant five-and-a-half lengths. After only one performance of note, a victory in Curragh, few expected anything out of the charge with Emmet McNamara in the saddle. However, Serpentine now has a place in history and the bettors that backed him would no doubt have been financially better off than when they started the day.
For the ones that did not, there are issues to consider. Would Serpentine have appealed to them if they had considered all the factors involved in the race rather than form? Even the most experienced bettors can make errors based on bias, especially considering the romance of The Derby.
A way to remove the bias could be to deploy artificial intelligence programmes that base their predictions of a race on all the leading factors and not just the form guide. The Beth prediction tool analyses pedigree, weather, conditions and of course performances. All of these factors are entered into a programme before a conclusion is delivered in an accessible format. Technology is becoming critical to all business decisions, and this may be the next step in narrowing the gap between bettors and bookies.
Horse racing purists will always believe in their own methods, but for casual punters lining up the next prospects for The Derby, it could be a prudent way to win your bet. High Definition is currently the bookmakers’ favourite for the event, but there could be another Serpentine lurking in the field that everyone may have overlooked once more.