The Derby is a Group One flat horse race open to three-year-old colts and fillies in England. On the first Saturday of June, it raced over one mile, four furlongs, and six yards at Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey (2,420 meters). It is often known as the “Blue Riband” of turf. The Race is the middle leg of British horse racing‘s historically significant Triple Crown, preceding the 2000 Guineas and following the St Leger, though winning all three is rarely attempted in the modern era due to changing priorities in racing and breeding, as well as the demands placed on horses.
Who Started the Derby? The Race was first held on May 14, 1779, and was named after Lord Derby’s country home at Woodmansterne. The event, open to three-year-old fillies (8st 4lb), cost 50 guineas and was run over a mile and a half. It was won by Lord Derby’s Bridget, the 5-2 favorite. Although there are no details about Derby’s origins in the archives, legend has it that the 12th Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury (the “perpetual president” of the Jockey Club, who was a guest at Lord Derby’s house, The Oaks), flipped a coin to determine whether the Race should be called the Derby Stakes or the Bunbury Stakes.
The First Runnings of the Epsom Derby
The Epsom Derby is one of the world’s most important horse races, with a long and rich history. The earliest races of the Race were held in the late 18th century, which is substantially different from the current event.
The early Derbys were also famous for the magnitude of the people that attended. Over 100,000 people were said to have come to Epsom to see the Race in 1788, and by the early 19th century, the Derby was drawing twice that number of racegoers through the turnstiles.
The Race developed through time, including alterations to the distance and race conditions. The distance was raised to one mile and a half in 1784, and it was again extended to one mile, four furlongs, and six yards in 1892. The Race’s criteria have also changed throughout the years, including weight-for-age allowances and other variables that make the Race more fair and competitive.
The Epsom Derby is still one of the highlights of the horse racing calendar, drawing elite horses, trainers, and riders from all over the globe. Its rich history and tradition have made it one of the sport’s most famous and prominent races.
The Word “Derby” – Meaning
The word “Derby” (derived from the Earl of Derby’s sponsorship) has appeared in various Feature Races worldwide, most notably the Kentucky Derby in the United States. The Epsom Derby is often known as “The Derby” in the United Kingdom since it is one of the most prominent national events on the United Kingdom’s horseracing calendar, with a sizeable worldwide television audience.
Cazoo is the current sponsor of the Race and seven other events at the Derby Festival, with their sponsorship commencing in 2021. Investec sponsored the Derby from 2009 through 2020, and before that, Ever Ready (1984-1994) and Vodafone (1995-2008) sponsored the Race.
The Epsom Derby – An Iconic Race
The Epsom Derby has become one of the most recognisable Races in modern-day Racing parlours. Today, the Derby is the world’s most renowned classic horse race. It is unquestionably the oldest and largest, generating tremendous attention globally.
This Race, together with the 2,000 Guineas and St Leger, is part of horse racing’s so-called Triple Crown. Other world-class races have taken the name “Derby,” with the Kentucky Derby being the most well-known example.
Epsom Downs – A Holistic Adventure finishing with the Epsom Derby
- Epsom Downs racetrack is a world-renowned horse racing arena, but it is also much more. Many people see it as a holistic experience since it provides a variety of activities and attractions that engage all senses and encourage well-being.
- The racetrack is nestled in a stunning natural location, with rolling hills, trees, and panoramic countryside views. Visitors may walk or jog around the course, breathing in the fresh air and taking in the landscape.
- Horse racing is an exciting sport that may elicit strong emotions from viewers. The adrenaline rush of seeing the horses race by the grandstand, hearing the thundering of hooves, and cheering for your favourite horse may be intense.
- Aside from horse racing, the Racecourse conducts various other events and activities. Concerts, fairs, and food festivals allow people to interact, try new delicacies, and enjoy live music and entertainment.
- The Racecourse offers a variety of hospitality choices, ranging from fine dining restaurants to private boxes and suites where guests may unwind and enjoy a VIP experience. There are also more informal alternatives, such as food trucks and pubs, where tourists can get a drink and a bite.
- Having hosted the famed Epsom Derby since 1779, the racetrack has a strong feeling of history and tradition. This tradition contributes to the whole experience, making it seem exceptional and one-of-a-kind.
In essence, Epsom Downs racetrack is a holistic experience because it engages all of the senses, promotes well-being, provides a variety of activities and events, and has a strong feeling of history and tradition going back in history to the iconic running of the inaugural Epsom Derby in 1779.
At some runnings, more than a hundred entries are entered for the Race, but unfortunately for the owners and trainers of those equine thoroughbreds, only a fraction will stand the scrutiny of final acceptances to participate in the iconic Race on Derby day at the beginning of June.
The Cazoo Epsom Derby is known across the globe as one of the Races that every trainer, jockey and owner wants to win. It is an iconic Race, run at an iconic venue annually, and all the eyes of the global HorseRacing public are focused on Epsom Downs for the duration of the Festival of Horse Racing.