Looking ahead to the Epsom Derby
Looking ahead to the Epsom Derby
The National Hunt season might be behind us, but there is still plenty of flat racing action to look forward to. It doesn’t come much bigger than the Epsom Derby, which will take place on 01 June. Held at Epsom Downs racecourse, the Derby is one of the Blue Riband events of the year, and is run over a distance of one mile and four furlongs. The race is open to three-year-old colts and fillies, and provides an opportunity to see some of the greatest bloodstock that is set to dominate over the coming years.
Image source (Wikipedia) https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derby_Stakes
With a prize fund of more than £1.3 million, the Derby is Britain’s richest race of the year, and it is right up there with the Grand National or Cheltenham Gold Cup as one of the biggest annual events on the racing calendar. In fact, this is the original Derby, and is the race that has lent its name to other great horse racing events the world over, such as the Kentucky Derby.
A big race means a big day for those who enjoy placing a bet, and Derby Day is one of the most important dates in the calendar for bookmakers as well as racing fans. But being open only to three year olds means this is a race in which casual punters cannot simply back a “famous name” as they might in one of the major National Hunt races. Still, the Epsom Derby is as big a favourite with the horse racing fans who like to review online bookmakers such as Betway to find the best places to lay down a bet as the Grand National or the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Sites like this are popular with both seasoned race fans and the more occasional, one-off punters, and the tipsters will be nominating their favourites as soon as the runners and riders are confirmed.
This year’s will be the 240th Epsom Derby, so it goes without saying that with such a long history, the race has seen some of the very best horses. The Epsom Derby has welcomed some of the world’s very best thoroughbreds throughout its rich history, including Nijinsky, Shergar, Nashwan and Sea the Stars.
Yet while winning at Epsom will certainly propel any horse’s name into the headlines, Derby winners more commonly go on to become the most coveted stallions at stud as opposed to multi race winners.
This is something that has been seen from the very earliest days. Diomed has the distinction of winning the first ever Derby in 1780. His racing career was short, but he went to stud in America, where he was one of the most important stallions in early American bloodstock. He remained active right up to his death at the veritable age of 31. Fast forward to the present day and Galileo, the 2001 Derby winner, has become the top stallion in Britain and Ireland, siring some famous champions including Frankel, New Approach and Minding.
More than just a race
As is the case with any top horse race, there is far more to Derby Day than the racing. Its proximity to London makes this race one of the most popular with the Royal family. Her Majesty the Queen is a regular attendee, and was there last year alongside a host of celebrities including Liz Hurley and Dame Helen Mirren.
Unlike other major races, entry to Epsom Downs for the Derby is absolutely free, and as a result, crowds of up to 100,000 spectators typically arrive, giving the event an atmosphere that is unlike any other.