Epsom Downs Racecourse

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Epsom Downs
Epsom Downs Racecourse logo
Location Epsom, United Kingdom
Operated by Jockey Club Racecourses
Screened on Racing UK
Course type Flat
Notable races Epsom Derby
Epsom Oaks
Coronation Cup
Official website

Epsom Downs is a Grade 1 racecourse near Epsom, Surrey, England. The "Downs" referred to in the name are part of the North Downs. The course, which has a crowd capacity of 120,000,[1] is best known for hosting the Epsom Derby, the United Kingdom's premier thoroughbred horse race for three-year-old colts and fillies, over a mile and a half (2400m). It also hosts the Epsom Oaks for three-year-old fillies and the Coronation Cup for all ages over the same distance.


The first recorded race was held on the Downs in 1661,[2] although a local burial list of 1625 refers to "William Stanley who in running the race fell from his horse and brake his neck" so it is likely that racing was established much earlier than that.[3] Epsom is referenced in the diary of Samuel Pepys in 1663 and Charles II is said to have been a racegoer there.[3] By 1684, Epsom had a clerk of the course and from 1730 was hosting twice yearly race meetings.[3]

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 estate. The race became so successful that the following year a new race was added for colts and fillies - the Epsom Derby. In 1784 the course was extended to its current distance of a mile and a half and Tattenham Corner was introduced.[4]

Henry Dorling, step-father to cookery writer Mrs Beeton, was a Clerk of the Course at Epsom, appointed in 1840.[5]

In 1913 the suffragette Emily Davison threw herself in front of King George V's horse Anmer, bringing him down. Davison was badly injured and died four days later.[6]

In 1952 the racecourse was featured extensively in the film Derby Day set around the 1952 Epsom Derby.[7]

In 2009 the racecourse opened the new Duchess's Stand. It has a capacity of 11,000 and has a 960m² (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.[8]

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.[9]


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 (1600m).

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).

The area is served by the Epsom Downs railway line as well as Tattenham Corner railway station which is where Queen Elizabeth II alights from the British Royal Train on race days.

Notable races[edit]

Month DOW Race Name Type Grade Distance Age/Sex
April Wednesday City and Suburban Handicap Flat Handicap 1m 2f 18y 4yo +
April Wednesday Great Metropolitan Handicap Flat Handicap 1m 4f 10y 4yo +
April Wednesday Investec Derby Trial Flat Conditions 1m 2f 18y 3yo only
May Friday Princess Elizabeth Stakes Flat Group 3 1m 114y 3yo + f
May Friday The Oaks Flat Group 1 1m 4f 10y 3yo only f
May Friday Diomed Stakes Flat Group 3 1m 114y 3yo +
June Saturday Coronation Cup Flat Group 1 1m 4f 10y 4yo +
June Saturday Woodcote Stakes Flat Listed 6f 2yo only
June Saturday The Derby Flat Group 1 1m 4f 10y 3yo only
Other races


  1. ^ http://stadiumzone.weebly.com/
  2. ^ "History". Epsom Downs Racecourse. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Holland 1991, p. 10.
  4. ^ Epsom Downs History
  5. ^ 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. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  6. ^ Emily Davison (1872 - 1913) BBC History
  7. ^ Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000
  8. ^ 'Freak' winds blamed for ripped roof at Epsom Downs racecourse The Guardian, 10 January 2012
  9. ^ Prince William, Kate Middleton Wow Royal-Watchers at British Horse Race Popeater, 4 June 2011


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°18′35″N 0°15′20″W / 51.30972°N 0.25556°W / 51.30972; -0.25556