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Epsom Derby Runners 2021

FAVOURITES, CONTENDERS, LONGSHOTS & MUCH MORE

The countdown is on to the big day on Epsom Downs and the latest running of the most famous Classic race of them all, the Derby. Which horse, trainer and jockey will add their name to the illustrious roll of honour for this legendary race, with a history that dates back to 1780? We’ve picked the top 16 Epsom Derby runners for special attention, with a guide to their chances in this great race.

The 2021 Epsom Derby promises to be, as it has so often been in the past, a wide-open affair. This is a race for three-year-olds – horses with more future than past – so picking the one who steps up on the big day is never simple. The last eight winners have been ridden by eight different jockeys and while Aidan O’Brien has trained three of the last five winners, none of them went off as favourite. Let’s take an early look at the Epsom Derby runners and odds – the favourites, contenders and longshots.

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Martin Booth
By Martin Booth  
Updated: 3 June 2021 4:00 pm

With a maximum field of 20 horses, betting on the Epsom Derby can be overwhelming. But we've got you covered. We've categorised the top horses in the betting into favorites, contenders, long shots, and those who need a miracle. We've also added their odds to win the Epsom Derby, their recent form, and the analysis you need to make smarter Epsom Derby bets.

The 2021 Epsom Derby Runners

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BOLSHOI BALLET
BOLSHOI BALLET
  • Nationality:  Irish
  • Age:  3
  • Colour:  Bay
  • Sex:  Colt
Trainer:  Aidan O'Brien
Owner:  Magnier/Tabor/Smith/Westerberg
Jockey:  Ryan Moore
Category:  Favourite
Odds to win:  11/10
Fully deserves to be the favourite based on his three-year-old career so far, especially his most recent run. Bolshoi Ballet stormed to victory in the Derrinstown Stakes – always one of the best Irish pointers to the Derby. His turn of speed mid-race was as impressive as it was decisive, and he looked beautifully balanced as he thundered to the line. Wait until the day to back him, however, as his odds may drift as the bookies try to "get him beat".
MAC SWINEY
MAC SWINEY
  • Nationality:  Irish
  • Age:  3
  • Colour:  Chestnut
  • Sex:  Colt
Trainer:  Jim Bolger
Owner:  Mrs J Bolger
Jockey:  Kevin Manning
Category:  Contender
Odds to win:  15/2
One of the Epsom Derby runners with plenty of questions about him. Will he stay a mile and a half? Does he need soft ground? How much should we read into his emphatic defeat by Bolshoi Ballet? Mac Swiney put up a superb performance in swampy conditions to win the Irish 2,000 Guineas and his sire, New Approach, won the Derby in 2008. There is also no shrewder trainer than Jim Bolger sending a horse to Epsom.
HURRICANE LANE
HURRICANE LANE
  • Nationality:  Irish
  • Age:  3
  • Colour:  Chestnut
  • Sex:  Colt
Trainer:  Charlie Appleby
Owner:  Godolphin
Jockey:  Lane William Buick
Category:  Contender
Odds to win:  8/1
Will go off as one of the fancied Epsom Derby runners thanks to his victory in the Dante Stakes at York, which so often throws up a horse for Epsom. Hurricane Lane did nothing flashy at the Knavesmire but he stayed all the way to the line and showed a really pleasing attitude in the last couple of furlongs. Charlie Appleby trained the winner three years ago and it would be no surprise to see him do it again.
MOHAAFETH
MOHAAFETH
  • Nationality:  Irish
  • Age:  3
  • Colour:  Chestnut
  • Sex:  Colt
Trainer:  William Haggas
Owner:  Shadwell Estate Company Ltd
Jockey:  Jim Crowley
Category:  Contender
Odds to win:  13/2
Stormed into the Epsom Derby reckoning when he absolutely hosed up in the Betfair Newmarket Stakes over 10 furlongs at the start of May. A son of Frankel, there was an echo of his dad’s epic performance in the 2011 2,000 Guineas when Mohaafeth made a mockery of his opposition. Already a winner three times as a three-year-old, there is clearly massive talent here and if he steps up again, he could land the odds at Epsom.
JOHN LEEPER
JOHN LEEPER
  • Nationality:  Irish
  • Age:  3
  • Colour:  Bay
  • Sex:  Colt
Trainer:  Ed Dunlop
Owner:  Anamoine Limited
Jockey:  Frankie Dettori
Category:  Contender
Odds to win:  7/1
When mum is Snow Fairy, who won the Oaks, and dad is Frankel, arguably the greatest flat horse of all time, any sign of ability is going to command massive attention. John Leeper suggested the apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree with an imposing win at Newcastle, and he prevailed again last time at Newmarket despite pulling too hard in the early stages. If he settles at Epsom and steps up again, he can be there or thereabouts.
THIRD REALM
THIRD REALM
  • Nationality:  British
  • Age:  3
  • Colour:  Bay
  • Sex:  Colt
Trainer:  Roger Varian
Owner:  Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum
Jockey:  Andrea Atzeni
Category:  Contender
Odds to win:  12/1
The reputation of the Lingfield Derby Trial got a boost two years ago when Anthony Van Dyck used it as his steppingstone to Epsom glory. The left-handed descent is similar to Epsom’s and Third Realm flew down it on his way to victory in May. The ground was soft and this horse, by Derby winner Sea The Stars, may be even better with a bit less juice in the turf. Could be really interesting at decent odds.
ADAYAR
ADAYAR
  • Nationality:  Irish
  • Age:  3
  • Colour:  Bay
  • Sex:  Colt
Trainer:  Charlie Appleby
Owner:  Godolphin
Jockey:  Adam Kirby
Category:  Longshot
Odds to win:  33/1
Another horse that, like Third Realm, showed in the Lingfield Derby Trial that the slopes and cambers of Epsom should hold no terrors. This big unit took time to get into his stride that day and could not quite reel in the winner at the business end of the race. That said, he looks like a powerhouse who will stay all the way up the Epsom straight when others are crying enough.
YOUTH SPIRIT
YOUTH SPIRIT
  • Nationality:  Irish
  • Age:  3
  • Colour:  Bay
  • Sex:  Colt
Trainer:  Andrew Balding
Owner:  Ahmad Al Shaikh
Jockey:  Tom Marquand
Category:  Longshot
Odds to win:  28/1
Deserves his place among the Epsom Derby runners and jockeys following his victory in the Chester Vase in May. Youth Spirit was nicely balanced throughout the race, run over a constantly turning course, and was doing his best work at the finish, suggesting he’ll appreciate the long and demanding Epsom straight. Firmer ground on the big day might bring further improvement - if the rain stays away he could run into a place.
GEAR UP
GEAR UP
  • Nationality:  Irish
  • Age:  3
  • Colour:  Bay
  • Sex:  Colt
Trainer:  Mark Johnston
Owner:  Teme Valley
Jockey:  Ben Curtis
Category:  Longshot
Odds to win:  33/1
A Group 1 winner as a two-year-old thanks to a surprise win in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud. Only one run as a three-year-old so far, when fading into fifth place in the Dante after threatening to take a lead two furlongs from home. Will undoubtedly come on for that run – however, he needs to improve plenty to reverse the form with the horses who finished in front of him that day.
ONE RULER
ONE RULER
  • Nationality:  Irish
  • Age:  3
  • Colour:  Bay
  • Sex:  Colt
Trainer:  Charlie Appleby
Owner:  Godolphin
Jockey:  James Doyle
Category:  Longshot
Odds to win:  22/1
It will be a surprise if One Ruler takes his place among the declared runners for the Epsom Derby. It will be an even bigger shock if he wins it. Put up a decent show against Mac Swiney in the Vertem Futurity last autumn but ran with the choke out in the 2,000 Guineas before fading. He looks like a miler and his breeding suggests a mile and a half will be beyond him.
MOJO STAR
MOJO STAR
  • Nationality:  Irish
  • Age:  3
  • Colour:  Bay
  • Sex:  Colt
Trainer:  Richard Hannon
Owner:  Amo Racing Limited
Jockey:  David Egan
Category:  Longshot
Odds to win:  80/1
This Richard Hannon-trained colt last ran a few weeks back at Newbury, finishing 2nd in the Join Casumo Today EBF Maiden Stakes over one mile, two furlongs. That was his second 2nd place at the same course, and it was only Manobo who proved too strong to beat on the day. There’s certainly potential and you’d be surprised if he doesn’t realise it, but this is a huge ask and a massive step up in class – it will take a huge effort to feature among the places.
SOUTHERN LIGHTS
SOUTHERN LIGHTS
  • Nationality:  Irish
  • Age:  3
  • Colour:  Bay
  • Sex:  Colt
Trainer:  Joseph Patrick O’Brien
Owner:  Aquis Racing & al Mamoura Partnership
Jockey:  Declan McDonogh
Category:  Longshot
Odds to win:  20/1
Didn’t fare so well when up against Bolshoi Ballet three weeks ago. At the Derrinstown Stud Derby at Leopardstown he could only manage sixth of seven, while the Aiden O’Brien horse romped home in impressive fashion. Was always up against in that race, but he didn’t have luck on his side that day either. You get the sense he’ll definitely improve from that showing, but this race is a bit on the soon side for a horse still finding its way.

Epsom Derby FAQs

What time is the Epsom Derby on Saturday?

The Epsom Derby runners and jockeys get under way at 4.30pm on Saturday June 5th. A crowd of 4,000 will be in attendance at the racecourse to cheer the runners home in the great race, which was run behind closed doors in 2020.

What time does the Epsom Derby finish?

The Epsom Derby runners compete over a mile and a half of Epsom’s unique switchback track. Horses must travel both uphill and downhill during the race and there is a severe camber on the finishing straight. The race is usually completed in just over two-and-a-half minutes, so it should be over by 4.35pm if it starts on time.

Who will win the Epsom Derby?

Bolshoi Ballet is a worthy favourite and it would be no surprise to see him give Aidan O’Brien his ninth winner of the race. However, there are several promising contenders, and others at long odds who could spring a surprise. The Epsom Derby has thrown up some shock winners in recent years and it is a brave person who says with certainty that won’t happen this year.

Has a filly ever won the Epsom Derby?

Yes, this has happened six times since the race was first run in 1780. However, it has not happened since Fifinella won in 1916. Fillies very rarely run in the Epsom Derby in the modern era, although Cape Verdi went off favourite in 1998 – she finished ninth.