History of the Epsom Derby
The Epsom Derby is one of the most famous horse races in the world and one of the three jewels in the crown of British horseracing the others being the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. While the Grand National is a test of stamina and courage, the Epsom Derby is a test of speed and stamina. The history of the Epsom Derby dates back to 1780, when Colonel Hervey Smyth-Edwards, a retired military officer, had the vision to bring the Epsom Derby to life. With the backing of the Prince of Wales, the future King George IV, the first Epsom Derby was run and has been a fixture in the British sporting calendar ever since. As one of the most famous horse races in the world, the Epsom Derby attracts some of the best three-year-old thoroughbreds from around the world. A field of 20 horses runs the Derby, with the horses wearing the traditional colours of scarlet and green, representing England, and navy and yellow, representing the royal colour of Scotland. The Derby is run over one and a half miles on the first Saturday in June each year and is the first leg of the Triple Crown, with the other two legs being the 2,000 Guineas and the St. Leger Stakes.
Preparation for the Epsom Derby
The horses that run in the Derby are generally three-year-old thoroughbreds. The race is run over one and a half miles, and the horses are expected to be fully matured by the time they reach three years old to give them an advantage over the younger horses. By the time the Derby takes place, the thoroughbreds have been training for around nine months. They have been put through rigorous training, often with early morning and evening sessions and a mix of fast and slow gallops, to build up their fitness and stamina. During the final stages of their preparation, the horses are expected to run over the Epsom course, which is around five furlongs in length (1100m).
Overview of the Epsom Derby course
The course at Epsom has undergone many changes since 1780, but it is still considered one of the world's best and most exhilarating courses in the world. It is a left-handed, straight dirt track with a very slight camber. The distance is one and a half miles, which is the standard distance for all British Classic races. The start of the race is on the far left of the course, with the finish line on the far right.
Interesting facts about the Epsom Derby
- The most famous Epsom Derby is the one that happened in 1879, when a filly called Blinkers won the race.
- The largest winning margin in the Epsom Derby was recorded in 1887 when Salsify won by 16 lengths.
- The average winning time of the Epsom Derby since 1951 is 2 minutes and 31 seconds.
How to watch the Epsom Derby
The best place to watch the Derby is at Epsom itself. The atmosphere on the day is electric, with the crowd cheering on their favourites and the sound of the horses’ hooves pounding the dirt track. The race is shown live on TV and can also be watched online. If you happen to be in London, you can also watch the Derby being run at the Curragh in County Kildare, Ireland, at the same time.
Betting on the Epsom Derby
If you are lucky enough to have tickets to the Derby, then you will be able to experience all the excitement and colour of this iconic sporting event. If you cannot go to the Derby, don’t worry, you can still get involved by placing a bet on which horse will win the race. Many online and offline betting companies allow you to place a bet on the Derby. You can also place bets on the day of the race at the bookies as well as online.
What to wear to the Epsom Derby
If you are lucky enough to be attending the Derby, then you will need to dress to impress. Men are expected to wear a dark suit and a tie, with women dressing in a cocktail dress or skirt with a blouse. If you are attending the Derby as a spectator, then you don’t necessarily need to dress up in a suit or a cocktail dress. You should however dress smartly and comfortably.
Notable Epsom Derby winners
There have been many notable winners of the Epsom Derby over the years. Some of the most famous winners of the race include:
- Sir Archibald - The first Epsom Derby was run in 1780 and was won by Sir Archibald.
- Blenheim - In 1810, Blenheim won the race and set a new record of winning by 15 lengths.
- Doncaster - Doncaster won the race in 1844, despite being far from a favourite. This was the closest win in the history of the race.
Epsom Derby celebrations
If you are lucky enough to attend the Epsom Derby, then you will be in for a real treat. Celebrations include wearing fancy dresses, drinking champagne, eating strawberries and cream, and watching the most famous horse race in the world.