The Epsom Derby: a true British Classic

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  • The Epsom Derby — refered to simply as ‘The Derby’ in racing circles — is one of the world’s most famous horse races.

    The Epsom Derby was first held in 1780 at the Oaks Estate, and derived its name from the host, the 12th Earl of Derby. It is one of 5 ‘Classics’ held in Britain each year.

    What type of race is the Derby?

    The Derby is a Grade 1 race (the highest class of Flat racing) and is open to 3-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies, although fillies rarely contest it. The Investec-sponsored race is 1 mile, 4 furlongs and 10 yards long. With winnings of £1.25m, it is one of UK racing’s biggest purses.

    When is the race run?

    The Investec Derby will be held at 4pm on 7 June. It is part of the larger Investec Derby Festival which runs across 6-7 June.

    Where is the race held?

    The Derby is held at Epsom Downs Racecourse, which is a few minutes drive from Epsom town centre.

    How can I get tickets?

    Tickets to the Investec Derby Festival are always popular and range in price from £15 for entry into the family enclosure on the hill up into the hundreds for hospitality in the main stands. For current prices and availability click here.

    What else happens during the Investec Derby Festival?

    There is a full catalogue of top class racing over the two days. Other than the Derby, other major races are the Investec Oaks on 6 June, which is restricted to 3-year-old fillies, and the Investec Coronation Cup, which is held on 7 June.

    Do I need to dress up for the Derby?

    Yes. Epsom race goers must dress smartly. Gentlemen in the Queen’s Stand must wear black or grey morning dress with a top hat, service dress or full national costume, while ladies must wear a formal day dress or tailored trouser suit, and cover their head with a hat or substantial fascinator.

    Epsom Derby race goers

    In the Grandstand Hospitality area gentlemen must wear a jacket and collared shirt and are encouraged to wear a tie, ladies must wear a hat or fascinator. Dress is more casual in the Grandstand Enclosure, although spectators are encouraged to dress smartly and will not be admitted if wearing sportswear, sleeveless vests, no top, trainers or denim which is frayed, torn or ripped.

    What is the Triple Crown?

    The Triple Crown is a title awarded to a horse that wins the 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and St. Leger in one year. As these races are only open to three-year-olds, horses have only one attempt. The title has not been awarded for over 30 years, the last winner being the great Nijinsky in 1970.

    Visit the official Epsom Derby website

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