It’s said that the Investec Derby is a great test of any horse’s stamina and that could be the reason why initial ante post favourite Churchill was withdrawn from the initial declaration. At a mile and a half, it’s certainly tougher than the relative sprint that is the 1000 Guineas, the Newmarket race that provides the first leg of the Triple Crown, but it’s the Epsom track itself that makes things even trickier.
Flat racing, in its basic sense of the word, means horse racing without the jumps but it doesn’t necessarily mean a flat and true surface. At the off, the runners at this Epsom Downs track will initially face a steep uphill climb for the first section of the one mile and six furlong renewal. From there, it’s a sharp, turning descent with horses shifting right and then left as they battle for the perfect position coming home.
In that home straight, it pays to be on the inside as the video shows. Epsom’s closing section features a steep camber which won’t show up on your TV screens but is certainly evident when you are on the track itself.
Class comes through
It can be a sapping race but, as recent history has shown, the best horses will come through and overcome the gradients, turns and cambers. Jockeys will be very familiar with the Epsom course and, even those that arrive at Epsom for the very first time will walk the course and be aware that, in that closing straight, taking the inside line could be vital in terms of success. Cracksman and Cliffs of Moher remain joint favourites with Unibet at 4/1 but as we now know, there’s more to the Derby than pace and stamina on what can be a tricky surface.