Epsom Downs Racecourse
Epsom Downs Racecourse logo
|Location||Epsom, United Kingdom|
|Operated by||Jockey Club Racecourses|
|Screened on||Racing UK|
|Notable races||Epsom Derby
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 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, 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. 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.
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.
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.
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 Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, William's brother, Prince Harry of Wales, 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 (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).
- Diomed Stakes
- Coronation Cup
- The Oaks
- Surrey Stakes
- Woodcote Stakes
- Princess Elizabeth Stakes
- Epsom Dash
- The Derby
- Investec Derby Trial
- Holland 1991, p. 10.
- Epsom Downs History
- 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.
- Emily Davison (1872 - 1913) 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 The Guardian, 10 January 2012
- Prince William, Kate Middleton Wow Royal-Watchers at British Horse Race Popeater, 4 June 2011