The whole nation loves a bet on the Derby and everyone seems to have their own method for making their selection.
For many it will be their only bet of the year and so their choice may be based on nothing more scientific than their lucky number, their house number, or the name of a friend or relative.
Similarly, the rather politically incorrect “housewives choice” is unlikely to emerge after long nights of studying the formbook, but will instead be a grey, or be based on the jockey or trainer like Lester Piggott, Frankie Dettori or Sir Michael Stoute.
Believe it or not, however, as our trends section shows, it is possible to apply an element of science to the selection process and whilst, as the saying goes, there are lies, damn lies and statistics, it is hard to ignore certain of the historical trends.
The other thing to bear in mind if you intend to have a bet before the day of the big race is that, of the horses entered (see the entries), you need to try to find one that is guaranteed to make the line up. As always, well fancied horses will drop out right up to the day of the race due to injury, illness, loss of form etc. Horses not originally entered can also be subsequently supplemented for the races, at additional cost to their owners, creating a further conundrum for punters solve.
The three longest-priced Derby winners started at 100-1. They were Jeddah in 1898, Signorinetta in 1908 and Aboyeur in 1913. The biggest outsider to win in more recent times was Snow Knight at 50-1 in 1974.
The longest-priced placed horse was the Clive Brittain-trained Terimon, who was 500-1 when second to Nashwan in 1989.
Ladas, who won the race in 1894, is still the shortest-priced winner of the Derby, having been sent off at 2-9. The most recent odds-on winner was Shergar at 10-11 in 1981 while the most recent odds-on loser was Entrepreneur, who was only fourth at 4-6 behind Benny The Dip in 1997.
In the past 40 runnings of the Derby, the race has gone to the first or second favourite 26 times.
One of the biggest Derby gambles of all time was foiled in 1986 when Greville Starkey’s ill-judged tactics on 2-1 favourite Dancing Brave cost punters millions. A dozen lengths adrift running down towards Tattenham Corner, Dancing Brave flew up the Epsom straight, but Starkey had set the 2000 Guineas winner an impossible task and they failed by a neck to peg back eventual winner, Shahrastani.
An old gypsy tradition that has built up around the Epsom Derby is that the name of the winner will mysteriously appear, handwritten in chalk, on a well outside the Amato public house, situated on Chalk Farm Lane in Epsom, on the Sunday before the big race.
Sceptics may dismiss this tradition as just another piece of sentimental nonsense, but the chalk-scrawled prediction has apparently proved very profitable to follow, correctly identifying the winner seven times in the last 12 years.
The pub is named after the 1838 Derby hero Amato, who never raced before or after his Epsom triumph, and receives enquiries from all over the world as to which horse has been selected by the anonymous tipster.
Nobody knows for sure when the tradition began, although it is believed by pub regulars to be around 50 years old. The inn was originally called the Horse and Hounds before being renamed in honour of Amato after the horse's Derby success. The inside of the Amato is adorned with a large selection of Derby-related memorabilia.