Preview of The 2024 Derby

We are on the cusp of one of the greatest horse races on the entire calendar with the running of the 2024 Derby. 

Considered the jewel in the crown when it comes to the Classics, this race has been won by the great and good of British horse racing. This year twenty horses will head down to post in the hope of etching their names into the history of this famous old race.

Whereas in previous iterations of the race we have seen the betting dominated by one or two horses, this year’s contest is wide open and there are connections of several horses who will head to Epsom believing that their horse could end the day in the winner’s circle. 

Ahead of what is bound to be another fiercely contested race, here is our preview of this year’s contest where we will reveal the favourites and who could land a blow at a bigger price.

The Favourites

The Favourites

Heading into the season, the horse that many racing experts believed would take all of the stopping in this year’s Derby was the Aiden O’Brien trained City of Troy.

A multiple Group winner at 2, which included a victory in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes, he was the short priced favourite heading into the 2000 Guineas but failed to pick up at the business end of the race and tailed off to finish well down the field in ninth.

Carrying so much hope heading into the race, the result of the 2000 Guineas was nothing short of devastating for his connections and the jury remains out on whether he will have the class to bounce back here.

Despite the setback, O’Brien is still bullish over City of Troy’s potential and he looks likely to lead a string of horses that the Master Trainer plans on entering. 

O’Brien experienced something similar last year when last year’s Derby winner Auguste Rodin bounced back to win the big race following a desperately poor showing in the 2000 Guineas, so O’Brien certainly knows how to ready one for the day.

Clearly classy on his day, if he fires like he did on multiple occasions during his two year old campaign he will be the horse to beat, but with plenty to overcome, there could be much better value that can be found elsewhere.

With concerns over the City of Troy, many punters are turning towards O’Brien’s other leading hopeful, Los Angeles.

Whilst he doesn’t boast the form of his stablemate, he is a Group 1 winner himself and is related to former Derby winner Camelot. Whilst he wasn’t spectacular in his warm up race ahead of the Derby, he still finished his trial looking full of running and this step up in distance looks likely to suit. 

With City of Troy starting to drift in the market, it could be that by the time the race jumps off, Los Angeles will start as the race favourite.

Expected to lead the British charge is Ancient Wisdom. Trained by Charlie Appleby, Appleby has a fine recent record in the race having won two of the last six renewals.

Despite being another Group 1 winner in the field courtesy of his win in the Futurity Stakes, he finished someway behind Economist on his seasonal return in the 2024 Dante Stakes and looks to have plenty to prove.

Appleby will argue that his relatively flat performance in the Dante would have shaken the rust off and he will hope that his mount will be far fitter here. If fit and raring to go, he has to be one for the shortlist. 

Although Ambiente Friendly hasn’t tasted success at Group level, he heads into the race having won the Derby trial at Lingfield and that race has served as a good barometer for the Derby in the past.

His victory in the Lingfield Derby trial was nothing short of spectacular as he bounded clear to win by four lengths. Backing up that level of performance in this race could be tough, but he is clearly capable and could well serve it up to the Aiden O’Brien pair at the top of the market.  

The Value Options

The Value Options

Heading into the French 2000 Guineas few would have predicted that Dancing Gemini would have finished second, but he ran a huge race to throw himself firmly into the Derby conversation. 

Showing he had taken a huge leap from his two year old form, he will lock horns with Ancient Wisdom again but looks to have plenty of work to do if he is to overturn the heavy defeat that Ancient Wisdom inflicted upon him in the 2023 Futurity Stakes.

Arguably the quickest horse in the field, he could look to dictate things off the front and if granted a clear run, he could be difficult to reel back. 

Deira Mile will represent the Owen Burrows yard who has had runners finish second in this race on two different occasions.

Though highly enough to run in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes, he ran a big race that day to finish fourth, massively outrunning his 50/1 odds. 

Showing that he is a horse potentially siding with, he made a promising return to action when cruising to a win at Windsor a few weeks ago. Looking to have left his two year old form clearly behind, he could be one of the better value options of the race.

Likely to start the race as Aiden O’Brien’s third string, Illinois will have his backers despite his large price.

Placed at both Group 1 and Group 3 level as a two year old, he returned to the track as a three year old at the Lingfield Trial race, he could only finish second, someway behind the reopposing Ambiente Friendly.

Despite his four length defeat, he didn’t seem to handle the Lingfield track and hung badly up the final furlong to lose precious ground to his rival. Although Epsom certainly isn’t the easiest to navigate round, if he manages to keep it together, he could well spring a shock at a big price. 

Long Shots

By the time the race jumps off there will be some horses in the field who will be a triple figure price. Whilst it’s highly unlikely that any of these horses will have enough class to win, one horse to potentially side with is Portland.

Only a winner once in his career, he is one of the most experienced horses in the lineup and has placed in both Group 1 and Group 3 company in previous starts. 

He would need things to fall his way if he is to win this race, but he could be capable of pinching a place at a massive price.

It’s always interesting when a horse is supplemented into a race and that’s a decision that the connections of Tabletalk have decided to take. 

Paying £75,000 for their horse to be entered, it’s clear that they have a belief that despite his relatively modest form he could run a big race. If you want to back a complete wildcard in the race, he looks the obvious candidate.