If you are a flat racing fan, we are definitely going to be one of your favorite times of the year. Near the corner of Royal Ascot. But before that, there’s a flat racing meeting that’s just as exciting – Epsom Derby Day.
Whether you are familiar with racing or have never been more interested in betting on it, there is plenty of interesting history to discover this memorable event.
First, we will look at how the Epsom Derby is here in the modern era.
Where Cheltenham Festival is home to the richest race in jump racing, the Ipsom Derby captures the title of the richest race in British flat racing. The prize fund stands at £ 1.125 million, with £ 637,998 going for the winning horse.
The race is open to three-year-old Colts and Phillies and runs one mile and four furlongs.
The day is well attended, about 36,000 ticket holders are usually present and (of course) much more is seen at home. In fact, it was the first televised outdoor sports event in the world – showing just how important television viewers are to this race.
It is common for people to run and bet on their top horse, the desert crown is the current favorite. Regular betting offers are available during the Epsom Festival, which you can find out more about here. As well as free bets, there is an extra place if you lose your horse, a deposit bonus and a money back guarantee.
The first Epsom Derby was held on Thursday, May 4, 1780. It was named after James Stanley, the 7th Earl of Derby. The first Epsom Derby was won by a Cole (named after the Banbury Cup in Newmarket) owned by Sir Charles Bunbury, the personal guest of Diomed, Earl.
Initially, the race was run for one mile, but after four years of running, it was raised to 1m4f, which is still the case today.
Initially, the date on which the derby took place was governed by the time of Easter reading. It will run either in late May or early June, but always on a Thursday. In the early 1800s, it was moved to the first Wednesday of June to better fit the train schedule, allowing more visitors to see it.
Excluding the wartime years, the Derby was run on Wednesdays until 1995, when it moved to the first Saturday in June. This step means that people who follow a normal work schedule can watch this important race.
The effects of the derby
The term derby has become synonymous with a race. However, the Epsom Derby was original and named after Earl himself. Several race organizers have since copied the name and used it for themselves. The famous Kentucky Derby, Irish Derby, Deutsche Derby and several other races around the world have been inspired by the Epsom Derby. Winning this race has huge implications for a horse, especially if they are able to win 2000 Guinea before and St. Louis later. Together, these three races create what is known as the Triple Crown – a significant achievement for any horse. Nowadays, it is very unusual for horses to enter three races, partly due to a change in attitude towards three-year-old racing.
Nevertheless, Camelot tried and almost succeeded in 2012, when he was first in both the 2000 Guinea and Epsom Derby. Going to St. Ledger, he was a favorite to win but was piped into the NK post.
The biggest derby surprise
One of the reasons Derby is such a favorite race is that sometimes, there is a surprise winner. In recent years, the biggest surprise came in 2018, when a completely unexpected acquisition came home for Charlie Applebay to win 16-1.
Applebee was naturally thrilled, but so was the winning jockey Adam Kirby – Kirby lost his fancy John Lipper to Frankie Dettori on his original ride.
Kirby had a great journey in realization; Seeing a gap in the internal rail they straightened back, he went for it. He beat his opponent to win for Appleby Yard.
Watching derbies is always exciting. This year, it’s already shaped to be an incredibly close race. The two horses stand out especially against the rest of the field, the desert crown and the Stone Age.
Desert Crown is a 3-year-old Bay Colt owned by Sir Michael Stout. He has run only twice before, winning his first appearance as a 2-year-old at five-and-a-half and in length. The Desert Crown’s only presence this year was at the Al Basti EquiWorld Dubai Dante Stakes, a Group 2 race held in York.
Especially in this past race, his performance has strengthened his position as a derby favorite. With 2 furlongs leading out, he won by a significant 5 and a half length.
The Desert Crown’s toughest competition will be Stone Edge, a heavier raced colt that has appeared six times in its 2-year season (and twice so far this year). His first appearance of the year was at a good quality Maiden race – which he won at an incredible nine lengths – and his second was at the Derby trial. As the name implies, a derby trial is usually a good indication of which horse can win a derby. Not only did he win, he did it in great style, leaving second-place Glory Days five and a half inches behind.
Outside of these two horses, bookmakers can’t take pictures of any other horse winning. It remains to be seen which of these Bay boys will return home victorious.
The ‘Royal Surprise’ that the royal family has saved for the Queen Elizabeth Platinum Jubilee celebrations will be even more interesting. The Epsom Derby is one of the Queen’s favorite sports events; Special care has been taken to ensure that he can be present in comfort and style.