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Guide to Epsom Downs Racecourse

Epsom Racecourse Guide

The home of The Derby is one of the most spectacular racecourses in the country and we at Epsomderby.com take a look at the layout of the course and the principal races that are held there each year.

Guide to Epsom Racecourse

Epsom Racecourse plays a big part in the Flat season in the UK despite the venue hosting relatively few race meetings throughout the season compared to other courses. The entire season at this racecourse is completely dominated by the two-day Epsom Derby Festival with the feature race taking place on the first Saturday in June.

This famous track in slap-bang in the Surrey Downs and provides both runner and rider with a unique test, this being especially true of the Derby trip. There is a noticeable and demanding climb on the back straight and runners are required to negotiate the sharp turn at Tattenham Corner before a downhill straight towards home. The home straight itself has an inside camber as well as an uphill finish.

Records suggest that the first horse racing to held here was in the 1640s although Epsom hosted the first officially recorded horse racing meeting in Great Britain on 7th March, 1661.

The first Derby took place in 1780 with a distance of one mile, this being extended to one-and-a-half miles in 1784. The first running of the Oaks – which takes place one day before the Derby – was in 1779.

The Derby is the UK’s richest Flat race and is one of the five Classics for three-year-olds. For colts, this is the middle leg of the Triple Crown although it is open to fillies. This Group 1 contest takes place over a length of just over a mile-and-a-half.

The Oaks is only open to 3-year-old fillies and is a Group 1 Flat race which takes place one day before the Derby.

As well as the Derby and the Oaks, this venue hosts a number of other races, the most notable of these being the mile-and-a-half Group 1 Coronation Cup.

About Epsom Racecourse

Epsom Racecourse is a left-handed U-shaped undulating course which favours the handy type due to its pronounced downhill gradients, cambers and bends. Contests below eight-and-a-half furlongs tend to favour those ridden prominently given that they are very sharp while the five-furlong course is the world’s fastest with the entire contest being downhill. In this instance a prominent pitch is hugely important. When the conditions are testing, the runners generally with towards the rail at the stands-side where there is better ground.