Former jockey Michael Hills — who won the Derby in 1996 aboard Shaamit — explains the challenges that face the horses and jockeys as they tackle the unique challenges of the Epsom track during the Investec Derby
Former jockey Michael Hills — who won the Derby in 1996 aboard Shaamit — explains the challenges that will be facing the horses and jockeys as they tackle the unique challenges of the Epsom track during the Investec Derby (4.30pm, Saturday 4 June).
Michael says: “The Derby is a great race to ride in. It’s very rough and competive, but a fantastic feeling!
“We’re stood at the nine furlong marker. Down here to my right is the Derby start and as you can see, there is a real climb — 184 feet — from the start to the seven furlong marker, which is at the top of the hill.
“The start of the race is vital, because everyone wants to get as good a position as they can and then reserve their horse’s energy. The quicker you can get your spot, then you can calm your horse down and get him into a rhythm and that gives him a better chance of handling the track. If you’re out of position and trying to make ground up the hill, it’s going to take energy out of the horse and you’re not going to have as much horse at the end of the race.
“At the mile-and-a-half start, riders go to the right hand rail to cut the corner off and when they get to the bend, they switch back to the left hand rail, which is the inside rail. It’s one of the most important parts of the race as the whole field switches across the track. This causes a lot of interference, jockeys who are out of position see a little window where they can get back into where they want to be. While we are all mates in the weighing room, but I promise you at this stage of the race no-one likes anybody. We all go deaf and you do what you have to do…”
Watch the full video above for Michael’s thoughts on coping with the challenges of Tattenham Corner, coming down the famous Epsom hill, before turning into the straight and having to deal with the camber towards the inside rail before running uphill to the finishing post.