|Location||Epsom, Surrey, UK|
|Operated by||Jockey Club Racecourses|
|Date opened||1661 (first recorded race)|
|Screened on||Racing TV|
|Notable races||Epsom Derby|
The course, which has a crowd capacity of 130,000 when taking into account people watching from the Epsom Downs, an area freely available to the public, is best known for hosting the Derby Stakes which has come to be widely referred to as The Derby (note, 'Epsom' is not part of the title of the race), the United Kingdom's premier thoroughbred horse race for three-year-old colts and fillies, over a mile and a half (2400 m). It also hosts the Oaks Stakes (also widely referred to as The Oaks) for three-year-old fillies, and the Coronation Cup for horses aged four years and upwards. All three races are Group 1 races and run over the same course and distance.
The Chairman of the course since 2015 is Julia Budd. The course, owned by the Jockey Club, has enjoyed a long association with the British Royal Family, with the Queen attending most years for the Derby.
The first recorded race was held on the Downs in 1661, although a local burial list of 1625 refers to "William Stanley who in running the race fell from his horse and brake his neck" and in some sources racing is recorded as dating from the 1640s, so it is likely that racing was established much earlier than that. Epsom is referenced in the diary of Samuel Pepys in 1663 and Charles II is said to have been a racegoer there. By 1684, Epsom had a clerk of the course and from 1730 was hosting twice yearly race meetings.
At Epsom on 3 May 1769 the famous racehorse Eclipse had the first of his many victories in an undefeated career on the turf.
In the summer of 1779 Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby, organised a race for himself and his friends to race their three-year-old fillies. He named it the Oaks after his nearby estate. The race became so successful that in the following year 1780 a new race was added for three-year-old colts and fillies—-the Derby. In 1784 the course was extended to its current distance of a mile and a half and Tattenham Corner was introduced.
In 2009 the racecourse opened the new Duchess's Stand. It has a capacity of 11,000 and has a 960 m² (10 000 sq ft) hall. It can be used for banqueting, conferences and exhibitions. The estimated cost of the new stand, which was built by Willmott Dixon, was £23.5 million.
On 4 June 2011, in their first public outing since returning from their Seychelles honeymoon, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (along with the Queen, William's brother, Prince Harry, and Catherine's parents, Michael and Carole Middleton) attended the 2011 Epsom Derby at the track.
The racecourse is between Epsom, Tadworth and Langley Vale. As it is in a public area, people can watch the Derby free, and this meant that the Derby used to be the most attended sporting event of the year. It presents a stern challenge for inexperienced horses and a true test of stamina for those that might previously have contested the 2,000 Guineas Stakes over a mile (1600 m). Unusually, the racecourse is not a circuit but is roughly "U"-shaped with chutes for the start of sprint races over five, six and seven furlongs. The Derby course features an ascent to the top of the hill followed by a wide, sweeping left turn (Tattenham Corner) as the horses descend towards the straight. The half-mile straight is mainly downhill, with a final sharp ascent in the last hundred yards. The predominantly downhill nature of the straight means that times for the sprint races tend to be much faster than those on flatter tracks. Clockings for the five-furlong course have included 53.6 s (hand-timed) by Indigenous in 1960 and 53.70 s (electrically-timed) by Spark Chief in 1983.
Epsom Downs houses the third largest racehorse training facility in the country. The facility is managed by the Epsom trainers society. There are 11 trainers who use the facility, including Simon Dow and Laura Mongan (the only female trainer at Epsom).
|April||April Meeting||Wednesday||City and Suburban Handicap||Flat||Handicap||1m 2f 17y||4yo +|
|April||April Meeting||Wednesday||Great Metropolitan Handicap||Flat||Handicap||1m 4f 6y||4yo +|
|April||April Meeting||Wednesday||Blue Riband Trial Stakes||Flat||Conditions||1m 2f 17y||3yo only|
|June||Derby||Friday||Woodcote Stakes||Flat||Conditions||6f 3y||2yo only|
|June||Derby||Friday||The Oaks||Flat||Group 1||1m 4f 6y||3yo only f|
|June||Derby||Friday||Coronation Cup||Flat||Group 1||1m 4f 6y||4yo +|
|June||Derby||Friday||Surrey Stakes||Flat||Listed||7f 3y||3yo|
|June||Derby||Saturday||Princess Elizabeth Stakes||Flat||Group 3||1m 113y||3yo + f|
|June||Derby||Saturday||Diomed Stakes||Flat||Group 3||1m 113y||3yo +|
|June||Derby||Saturday||The Derby||Flat||Group 1||1m 4f 6y||3yo c + f|
- Other races
- Osborne, Alistair (1 June 2012). "Derby draws record crowds as racecourses buck recession". Archived from the original on 15 April 2018. Retrieved 5 April 2018 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
- "Julia Budd to succeed Anthony Cane as Chairman of Epsom Downs". The Jockey Club. 21 December 2015. Archived from the original on 8 June 2019. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
- "History". Epsom Downs Racecourse. Archived from the original on 25 June 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
- Barrett, Norman, ed. (1995). The Daily Telegraph Chronicle of Horse Racing. Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Publishing. p. 8.
- Holland 1991, p. 10.
- "Epsom Downs History". Archived from the original on 25 June 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- Beetham, Margaret (2004). "Beeton, Isabella Mary (1836–1865)" (available online through UK public libraries, also in printed form). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/37172. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
- Emily Davison (1872 - 1913) Archived 12 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine BBC History
- Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000
- 'Freak' winds blamed for ripped roof at Epsom Downs racecourse Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine The Guardian, 10 January 2012
- "Queen's hope to win Derby goes on". BBC News. 4 June 2011. Archived from the original on 23 June 2018. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
- "Epsom Downs Course Guide - At The Races". At The Races. Archived from the original on 26 February 2018. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
- John Randall (24 December 2005). "Ask the anorak: Raffingora record just one facet of a high-class sprinter". www.thefreelibrary.com. Racing Post. Archived from the original on 26 February 2018. Retrieved 26 February 2018.