June is set to be a jam-packed month for flat racing fans across the United Kingdom and Ireland. The Derby Festival at Epsom Downs, which is set to take place across 4-5 June, is followed by five days of world class racing at Royal Ascot (15-19 June). Plenty to get excited about!
With the Derby Festival up first, and punters already scouring through the horse racing betting odds for the Coronation Cup, the Oaks and the Derby itself, now seems like the perfect time to zone in on the historic showpiece race and take a look at the last five winners of the Derby.
2016 – Harzand
There was drama aplenty in the build-up to the 2016 renewal of the Derby. 13/2 shot Harzand had pulled his shoe off on the way to the track, leaving him with a 50-50 chance of running. It didn’t look good as he stood in his stable with his foot in an ice bucket. However, it looked like nothing had happened as he headed for the stalls and he breezed his way around the track, beating US Army Ranger by over a length and landing jockey Pat Smullen and trainer Dermot Weld their first Derby triumphs.
2017 – Wings Of Eagles
Aidan O’Brien-trained Wings Of Eagles was the unlikely winner of the 2017 Epsom Derby. The Irish trainer had six entries in the one-mile, four-furlong spectacle and it was Wings Of Eagles, the least likeliest of all at 40/1, who came out on top. It was a strong burst of pace near the finish that resulted in the then three-year-old stunning the leaders. Ryan Moore and Cliffs Of Moher, a stablemate of the winner, were just behind in second followed by pre-race favourite Cracksman.
2018 – Masar
There were maiden victories all round in 2018 as Masar gifted jockey William Buick, trainer Charlie Appleby and owner Sheikh Mohammed their first Derby triumphs. O’Brien’s Saxon Warrior was sent off as the 4/5 favourite. However, nothing seemed to break in the market leader’s favour and it was 16/1 Masar who nabbed a victory, beating Dee Ex Bee over the line by a length and a half with Roaring Lion a little further back in third. Saxon Warrior didn’t pose any threat in fourth.
2019 – Anthony Van Dyck
Jockey Seamie Heffernan and Anthony Van Dyck landed O’Brien a record-equalling seventh Derby victory in 2019. A win for one of the Irish trainer’s horses seemed likely as he fielded seven of the 13 entries and, in the end, it was 13/2 shot Anthony Van Dyck who delivered the victory, beating Madhmoon by half a length. O’Brien-trained Japan was just beaten to second by a nose, whilst its stablemate Broome was in fourth followed by the favourite Sir Dragonet — another from the Irishman’s yard.
2020 – Serpentine
The 2020 renewal of the Derby was somewhat of a damp squib. With no spectators at Epsom Downs, 25/1 shot Serpentine led comfortably from pretty much start to finish, winning the race by some five and a half lengths clear of Khalifa Sat (50/1) and Amhran Na Bhfiann (66/1). Whilst some punters at home were left furious with what they had just witnessed, O’Brien would have been rubbing his hands with glee as he became the most successful trainer in the race’s rich history. Jockey Emmet McNamara couldn’t believe his luck either, as he admitted he was gifted ‘a little bit of a freebie.’