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, which has a crowd capacity of 120,000, is best known for hosting The Derby Stakes which has come to be widely referred to as the Epsom Derby (however, '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 (2400m). It also hosts The Oaks Stakes (also widely referred to as the Epsom 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 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.
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 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, widely known now as 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 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 (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).
|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|
|June||Friday||Princess Elizabeth Stakes||Flat||Group 3||1m 114y||3yo + f|
|June||Friday||The Oaks||Flat||Group 1||1m 4f 10y||3yo only f|
|June||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 c + f|
- Other races
- "History". Epsom Downs Racecourse. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
- 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