Much is known about the Epsom Derby which is one of the oldest and most famous races in the world. The event, traditionally held on the first Saturday in June, is a favourite of die-hard racing fans and is perhaps second only to the Grand National in terms of betting interest from the general public. But what do we know of the venue itself? Epsom Downs has an even longer history than its most famous race, the Investec Derby, so what can you expect if you’re travelling to Surrey to take in the big day?
Investec Derby 2017: The Venue
The first recorded race at Epsom Downs was held way back in 1661 but it’s extremely likely that meetings were taking place prior to this date. What we do know is that the famous diarist Samuel Pepys made reference to the course in 1663 and that Charles II, a huge horse racing enthusiast was in regular attendance here. Over a century from its first recorded event, the Derby arrived in 1780 and in time, it helped established Epsom Downs as one of the most recognisable venues around the world. Four years later in 1784, it was extended to its current length of a mile and a half and at the same time, Tattenham Corner – a fiendishly sharp bend – was introduced.
Sharing the spoils
Along with the Investec Derby, Epsom Downs also plays host to a number of top quality renewals. The Epsom Oaks is another Group 1 Race held for 3 year old fillies and it takes place on Ladies Day, the Friday before the Derby itself. Completing the list of Grade One renewals is the Coronation Cup. This event has a more recent history than the Derby or the Oaks yet it still dates back to 1902 and was introduced to celebrate the Coronation of King Edward VII. Another important part of the overall Derby meeting, the Coronation Cup is also held on Friday and this Grade One race has an excellent prize purse of £400,000 up for grabs.
Epsom Downs Racecourse is situated on the outskirts of Epsom itself and is also close to the neighbouring villages of Tadworth and Langley Vale.The best view of the Investec Derby can be obtained from the Grandstand but many dedicated racegoers prefer to get trackside in order to get as close as possible to the action.
Don’t forget the parade ring where you can get a glimpse of the runners and riders just before they make their way to the start and, if you’re lucky enough, you can enjoy the atmosphere and share in the celebrations at the Winners Enclosure. While the Derby meeting is undoubtedly the highlight of the calendar, Epsom Downs also holds an April meeting with some high class handicap races so this is an excellent way to familiarise yourself with the venue but without the crowds that the Derby naturally attracts.
But for many, it’s all about the Investec Derby, a classic race at a historic venue which has been closely linked to this great sport for well over 200 years. .