Epsom Derby Winners Through the Decades and 2020 Favourites

  • A thrilling finish in 2000’s race saw an Irish-trained horse win the Derby for the first time in 16 years.
  • A strong run by Quest for Fame with Pat Eddery in the saddle gave owner Prince Khalid Abdullah a rare Derby double, having won its French namesake before success at Epsom.
  • 1980 marked back-to-back wins for jockey Willie Carson and trainer Dick Hern, with Henbit taking the honours at Epsom by half a length.

Four weeks later than initially scheduled, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic previously suspending the horse racing season, this year’s Derby at Epsom is set to take place on July 4th behind closed doors. Britain’s richest horse race was established in 1780 and not only is the Derby the most prestigious race of the five British Classics, it also acts as the middle leg of the famous Triple Crown. While the racecards from all today’s horse racing meetings may help you decipher your best bet for this year’s race, and we will reveal the market’s favourite shortly, in true nostalgic fashion, let’s also take a look back at the winner from the start of the previous four decades.

2020: Kameko?

The early favourite is Kameko, the Andrew Balding-trained colt that recently won the 2,000 Guineas. Providing a shock at Newmarket at odds of 10/1, the three-year-old, ridden by last season’s Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy, looks set to go straight to the Derby. Despite having never run a race longer than a mile, Balding doesn’t think stamina will be an issue, but Kameko will face stiff competition from English King (Ed Walker) and Military March (Saeed bin Suroor) who are also early contenders.

A triumphant effort from Ryan Moore in the saddle landed Workforce the victory at Epsom in 2010.

2010: Workforce

A triumphant effort from Ryan Moore in the saddle landed Workforce the victory at Epsom in 2010. Not only did the 6/1 shot win by seven lengths over At First Sight (100/1) in second place, but the finish time of 2:31:33 remains an Epsom Downs track record to this day. It proved to be an Epsom double for Moore, who had won the Oaks the day before, riding Snow Fairy – while also handing trainer Sir Michael Stoute a fifth winner in the Classic.

2000: Sinndar

A thrilling finish in 2000’s race saw an Irish-trained horse win the Derby for the first time in 16 years. Going in as the joint-fourth favourite, Sinndar battled hard to win by a length, having been neck-and-neck with the much-fancied Sakhee in the final furlong. It was a maiden victory in the Derby for jockey Johnny Murtagh, who had been unsuccessful in his previous three attempts and he continued to ride Sinndar to victory throughout the course of the season – with major wins at the Irish Derby and Longchamp’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

1990: Quest for Fame

A strong run by Quest for Fame with Pat Eddery in the saddle gave owner Prince Khalid Abdullah a rare Derby double, having won its French namesake before success at Epsom. The three-year-old, trained (at the time) by Roger Charlton may have been a 7/1 chance, but Eddery had been a seven-time Champion Jockey and claimed his third Epsom Derby victory. The margin of victory was three lengths from Blue Stag, and while Claim for Fame went on to contest the Irish Derby as the favourite, he could only muster a fifth-place finish.

1980: Henbit

1980 marked back-to-back wins for jockey Willie Carson and trainer Dick Hern, with Henbit taking the honours at Epsom by half a length. The second-favourite (behind Nikoli) started well, just behind the leaders and made good progress – before taking the lead in the final furlong and holding on from Master Willie. However, an injury to the colt’s foreleg during the race then curtailed his season and sadly, Henbit never recovered and was retired the following year – with the Derby being his last major win.

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Magdalena Rapala

Avid traveller and writer. Love sport, good music hang out with friends and write.

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