Epsom Derby Preview 2024 & Betting Tips: Joy For Euphoric?

Aidan O'BrienThe Derby at Epsom on Saturday presents the most interesting challenge for punters for years (4.30pm on ITV). The stand out horse from the trials, the William Haggas-trained Economics who powered home to win the Dante by six lengths, has not been supplemented for this 2024 renewal. Connections said before his impressive victory that they were sure that Epsom would not suit him.

Expectations of the long-term, clear ante post Derby favourite, Aidan O’Brien’s champion juvenile City Of Troy, diminished after he flopped in the 2,000 Guineas. Unbeaten in his three starts as a juvenile for Ballydoyle, this son of US Triple Crown winner Justify out of the group one winning Galileo mare, Together Forever, started as the 4/6 favourite with the top UK bookmakers. Market confidence was understandable. City Of Troy was last seen winning the group one Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket impressively by three and a half lengths. No horse had finished within two lengths of him.

Francesca Cumani, daughter of former top trainer Luca Cumani, said that although beautifully balanced he looked ‘rather small’. O’Brien immediately responded saying he had just stood into him and that he was 16 (hands) 1 (inch). It was also pointed out by Adele Mulrennan that there was a possibility that he had not ‘trained on’ meaning that he might not do so well as a three-year-old. The progeny of Justify have been known to disappoint at that age. They were right: He pulled hard early and faded rapidly two furlongs out, finishing 17 lengths behind Godolphin’s 16/1 shot, Notable Speech.

O’Brien is always keen to protect the reputation of his charges and typically blamed himself for not getting City Of Troy fit enough to win on debut. That seems unlikely but he has saddled other beaten favourites first time out this season. Sometimes it can take ages for news of a problem at the premises to become public knowledge. City Of Troy has been drawn in stall one which has only produced one winner since 2000. O’Brien’s number one jockey Ryan Moore, who is widely regarded as the best in the business, will partner him as usual.

Ballydoyle also have Los Angeles, a son of the 2012 Derby winner Camelot, who is vying for favouritism with his stablemate at 7/2. He won both of his starts as a juvenile, including the group one Criterium de Saint-Cloud run over a mile and a quarter in October.

Unlike City Of Troy he has proved he has ‘trained on’ by winning the group three Derby Trial Stakes at Leopardstown run over a mile and a quarter on 12 May. He will be ridden by Wayne Lordan from stall four which is also lower than ideal but he could be a more reliable option than City Of Troy.

O’Brien also saddles Euphoric who finished a length behind Los Angeles at Leopardstown in second but is offered at 28/1. This son of Frankel out of a Pivotal mare won his only start as a juvenile and opened his account this year with a third placing at Cork over a mile and a quarter. The legendary Frankel was never tried beyond a mile and a quarter but sired the 2021 Derby winner Adayar who overcame the dreaded stall one draw under an inspired ride from Adam Kirby. Out of a Dubawi dam, Adayar was a surprise winner at 16/1, partly because he was obviously the Godolphin third string. It would not be a huge surprise if Euphoric emulated his achievement under Declan McDonogh from stall nine.

Charlie Appleby saddles Godolphin’s only Derby contender this year, Ancient Wisdom (5/1) who finished behind Economics in the Dante in his sole start this term. He was previously seen winning the group one Futurity Trophy at Doncaster, run over a mile on heavy ground, having won three of his four starts as a two-year-old.

As a son of Dubawi, Ancient Wisdom is bred to appreciate testing conditions but not this distance of a mile and a half. Dubawi was only asked to race beyond a mile once, in the 2005 Derby. He didn’t quite get home and was beaten eight lengths into third. On the positive side, Ancient Wisdom’s dam, Golden Valentine, a daughter of Dalakhani, was at her most effective over a mile and a half, winning a group three for fillies. Ancient Wisdom is favourably drawn in stall 11 and has the benefit of the extremely capable Will Buick on board. With the second highest official rating of 115 (City Of Troy is 124), he has to be one for the shortlist, especially if the rain falls at Epsom.

James Fanshawe’s Ambiente Friendly (6/1) was extremely impressive in the Lingfield Derby Trial run over a mile and three and a half furlongs on May 11. He pulled hard early and raced very wide on the final turn but powered past his rivals under Callum Shepherd and was eased approaching the line. He started at 8/1 and beat O’Brien’s 6/4 favourite, Illinois, four and a half lengths. He is a compact, well-balanced type who ought to handle the undulations of Epsom.

This son of Gleneagles out of a Fastnet Rock mare does not have the ideal pedigree for this distance but his last performance suggests it should not be a problem, especially if the ground is not testing. He was purchased for 80,000 guineas in the April 2023 breeze-up sales for his now 91-year-young owner Bill Gredley. Gredley has always wanted to win the Derby but has unfortunately insisted that Robert Havlin (who is more often seen riding John Gosden’s second string) takes the ride. Fanshawe deserves a Derby win but his low draw and ground slower than good will not help his chances.

Trainer Richard Hannon is having a superb season, saddling the first two home in the Irish 2,000 Guineas after the same horses found only one too good in the equivalent race at home. He is represented by Voyage (20/1), a son of the 2015 Derby winner Golden Horn out of a Galileo mare. Galileo won the 2001 Derby and has sired a number of subsequent winners.

Bought by Julie Wood as a foal for £40K, Voyage won his only start at Newbury in April over a mile and a quarter. He was sent off at 28/1 but was able to win by nearly two lengths with minimal encouragement from Pat Dobbs. The quality of that form is questionable as it was a novice stakes with £20K to the winner, but his style of victory was eye-catching. This is an immense step up in class but he falls into the ‘could be anything’ category and cannot be discounted.

Mr Hampstead (150/1) finished two lengths behind Voyage in fourth for trainer Roger Varian and Amo Racing. Next time out he was third in a ‘confined’ maiden at Chester over a mile and a half on May 10. Now trained by Dominic Ffrench Davis, his current price seems an accurate reflection of his chances of gaining his first win.

Amo Racing also have Dallas Star (33/1) who was successfully saddled by Adrian Murray in the group three Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown in early April, defying his starting price of 50/1. Run over a mile and a quarter on heavy ground, that was a very different test to this one. He will start from stall seven under David Egan.

The relatively small stable of Roger Teal is represented by Dancing Gemini (12/1) who comes into this after taking second place in the French 2,000 Guineas run over a mile on soft ground at Longchamp on 12 May. Teal’s runners never attract the attention of those saddled by the top yards. He was a 26/1 shot and was only beaten half a length under Dylan Browne McMonagle.

As a juvenile Dancing Gemini was effective over seven furlongs, winning at listed level on soft. This will be his first try beyond a mile but as a son of Camelot out of an Australia (the 2014 Derby winner) mare, his pedigree suggests this should be within his compass. His other entries this year are for races over shorter trips implying there are doubts over this one. He is a fascinating runner but has previously been given longer to recover between races. He is rated 113, drawn favourably in stall 15 and will be partnered by Browne McMonagle again. If he were saddled by a big name he would probably be offered at a single figure price.

Our Preview’s 2024 Epsom Derby Betting Tips Verdict

The list of Derby-winning trainers is dominated by the big names and O’Brien, Ireland’s top handler, may well achieve a record-breaking tenth win but City Of Troy has questions to answer. Having disappointed last time he would not be the 7/2 favourite in the 2024 Epsom Derby betting if trained elsewhere. His stablemate Los Angeles has solid recent form but, rated 111 and untried over this trip, provides poor value at 4/1.

Charlie Appleby has two recent Derby wins on his CV and Ancient Wisdom (5/1) is rated ahead of all bar one of his rivals and could well prevail if the track is soft on the day. Fanshawe might gain his first Derby win if it isn’t with Ambiente Friendly (6/1).

So for the betting tips’ conclusion of this preview, in the most open Epsom Derby for years the draw and the racing surface could make the difference. O’Brien’s EUPHORIC was only a length behind Los Angeles last time, is drawn more favourably and is an attractive prospect for a small each-way bet at 25/1 with Bet365 who are paying out on four places in the Epsom Derby betting.