The Ultimate Guide to: The Epsom Derby

Everything you need to know and more about the Epsom Derby with our Ultimate Guide to one of the most prestigious fixtures in the horse racing calendar.

January 9, 2024

The Epsom Derby, a world-renowned horse racing event, boasts a rich and storied history dating back to its inception in 1780. This prestigious race stands as a symbol of excellence in flat racing, drawing enthusiasts from across the globe to the iconic Epsom Downs each year, rivalled only by Royal Ascot in terms of its popularity amongst the masses.

A Look Back on How It All Began

Originally conceived by the 12th Earl of Derby, Edward Smith Stanley, and Sir Charles Bunbury, the Epsom Derby has evolved over centuries to become one of the most prestigious events in the flat racing calendar. Its inception marked the beginning of an enduring tradition that showcases the finest thoroughbreds, jockeys, and trainers in the world of horse racing.

The Epsom Derby has faced interruptions over the years, including pauses during times of war, but it has consistently resumed its annual status, growing in stature and popularity. The racecourse at Epsom Downs provides the perfect backdrop for this spectacle, challenging horses and captivating audiences with its undulating track.

Throughout its history, the Cheltenham Festival has been witness to iconic moments and legendary performances. Horses like Arkle, Golden Miller, and Best Mate have left an indelible mark, achieving multiple victories in the prestigious races. The festival’s enduring popularity can be attributed not only to the excellence of the racing but also to the unique ambience it offers, blending sporting tradition with a lively and convivial atmosphere.

The Blue Riband of the Turf

Often referred to as the “Blue Riband of the Turf,” the Epsom Derby is a Group 1 flat horse race that covers a distance of approximately one mile, four furlongs, and six yards. This demanding race not only tests the speed and stamina of participating horses but also serves as a defining moment in their careers.


Established in 1780, the Epsom Derby has seen legendary champions etch their names into racing history. Horses like Shergar, Nijinsky, and Galileo have left an indelible mark on the event, achieving multiple victories and adding to the allure of this prestigious race.

The Epsom Derby Day Experience

Derby Day at Epsom is a celebration of the sport, offering a unique blend of racing excellence and a festive atmosphere. The picturesque Epsom Downs becomes a focal point for racing enthusiasts and casual fans alike, as they gather to witness the crowning of a new Derby champion.

Epsom Derby

The race itself is a breathtaking spectacle, with horses thundering down the famous Epsom track, navigating challenging turns, and facing a demanding uphill finish. The atmosphere is electric, heightened by the anticipation of witnessing history unfold on the hallowed turf.

Interested in attending the Epsom Derby on Derby Day? Find out more about our hospitality packages!

Top 5 Epsom Derby Moments

The Epsom Derby has been witness to numerous iconic moments and legendary performances over the years. From the dominance of Nijinsky in 1970 to the incredible speed of Shergar in 1981, each edition of the Derby adds a new chapter to its storied history.

Here’s our pick of the top 5 moments from the Derby:

  1. Nijinsky’s Triple Crown (1970): Trained by Vincent O’Brien and ridden by Lester Piggott, Nijinsky secured his place in history by winning the Epsom Derby, the 2,000 Guineas, and the St. Leger in 1970, achieving the prestigious Triple Crown.
  2. Shergar’s Dominance (1981): Shergar’s victory in the 1981 Epsom Derby is etched in racing lore. Trained by Michael Stoute and ridden by Walter Swinburn, Shergar’s exceptional speed and commanding performance made him one of the most celebrated Derby winners.
  3. Galileo’s Success (2001): Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Galileo’s triumph in the 2001 Epsom Derby marked the beginning of a stellar career. The son of Sadler’s Wells went on to become a highly influential sire, producing a lineage of exceptional racehorses.
  4. Golden Horn’s Elegance (2015): Golden Horn, trained by John Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori, showcased sheer elegance and power in his 2015 Epsom Derby victory. The colt’s dynamic performance captured the hearts of racing enthusiasts worldwide.
  5. Saxon Warrior’s Classic Win (2018): Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Saxon Warrior’s victory in the 2018 Epsom Derby added another chapter to the O’Brien legacy. The colt displayed resilience and determination, securing his place among the Derby greats.

The Epsom Derby in Popular Culture

In recent years, the Epsom Derby has continued to captivate a global audience, transcending the boundaries of horse racing. The event has become a cultural phenomenon, influencing fashion, literature, and various forms of entertainment.

Derby Day is not only a showcase of equine excellence but also a social and cultural affair. Attendees display their sartorial flair, adding a touch of glamour to the proceedings. The Epsom Derby has seamlessly blended tradition with innovation, ensuring its place as a highlight of the sporting calendar.

The racecourse, surrounded by the picturesque Surrey countryside, provides a stunning backdrop for television broadcasts and media coverage. The Epsom Derby has become a topic of intense discussion and anticipation, with the iconic “Derby Roar” echoing the collective excitement that accompanies the start of the race.

Best Places to Experience the Epsom Derby

  • The Pegasus Lounge: Corinthian Sports are proud to offer our brand new Pegasus Lounge at the Epsom Derby. View all the racing from the comfort of our marquee, overlooking the Tattenham Straight with large screens and private balcony areas offering the perfect location to savour the racing.
  • The Queen’s Stand: Offering a premium experience, the Queen’s Stand provides an elevated view of the racecourse. With private bars and restaurants, it caters to those seeking a luxurious and exclusive atmosphere.
  • The Grandstand: Positioned at the heart of the course, the Grandstand provides panoramic views of the Epsom Downs. It’s an excellent choice for those who want to witness the start and finish of races.
  • Tattenham Straight: Located near the final furlongs, Tattenham Straight offers a thrilling perspective as horses sprint towards the finish line. It’s a popular spot for those who enjoy the intensity of the closing moments of each race.
  • The Hill: For a more relaxed experience, The Hill provides a casual setting with a picnic atmosphere. It’s a favourite spot for families and groups looking to enjoy the races in a laid-back environment.
  • The Lonsdale Enclosure: Situated close to the winning post, the Lonsdale Enclosure offers an excellent view of the final moments of each race. It provides a vibrant and social atmosphere.

Getting to the Epsom Derby

With approximately 130,000 spectators attending the Epsom Derby, planning your journey is essential. Here are various transportation options to consider:

  • By Car: Epsom Downs Racecourse is easily accessible by car, with ample parking available. Follow the signs for parking upon arrival. The racecourse is situated just off the B290.
  • By Train: Epsom Downs railway station is the most convenient station for the Derby. From there, it’s a short walk to the racecourse. Alternatively, Epsom railway station provides access to shuttle buses.
  • By Bus: Shuttle buses operate from Epsom railway station to the racecourse on Derby Day. Additionally, regular bus services connect the town centre to Epsom Downs.
  • By Taxi: Taxis are readily available in the area, providing a convenient mode of transportation to and from the racecourse.
  • Walking: If you’re staying in the town centre or nearby, and the weather is favourable, walking to the racecourse is a viable option. It’s approximately a 30-minute walk from Epsom town centre to the Downs.

Betting at the Epsom Derby

Betting on the Epsom Derby requires a combination of knowledge, strategy, and a bit of luck. Here are some tips to enhance your betting experience:

  • Understand Betting Options: Familiarize yourself with the various types of bets available, such as win, place, and each-way bets. Learn how odds work and the potential payouts associated with different betting options.
  • Research the Horses: Before placing your bets, take the time to study the form of each horse. Consider factors such as recent performances, the jockey’s record, and the trainer’s history. Pay attention to how horses have performed on similar track conditions and distances.
  • Set a Budget: Determine how much money you’re willing to spend on betting and stick to your budget. Responsible gambling is crucial, so avoid chasing losses and only wager what you can afford to lose.
  • Diversify Your Bets: Instead of putting all your money on a single horse or type of bet, consider spreading your bets across different races and bet types. This approach can help manage risk and potentially increase your chances of a successful wager.
  • Follow Expert Tips: Stay informed by paying attention to tips from experienced horse racing analysts and experts. While expert opinions can be valuable, always do your research and consider multiple sources of information.
  • Trust Your Instincts: While data and analysis are essential, sometimes intuition plays a role in betting. Trust your instincts, but balance them with informed decision-making based on research and knowledge.
  • Enjoy the Experience: Remember that betting is just one aspect of the overall Derby experience. Whether you win or lose, relish the excitement of the races, the camaraderie of the crowd, and the thrill of witnessing world-class horse racing.

Remember, horse racing is unpredictable, and there are no guaranteed outcomes. It’s crucial to gamble responsibly and view betting as a form of entertainment rather than a guaranteed way to make money.

Attending the Epsom Derby in The Pegasus Lounge

The Pegasus Lounge is Corinthian Sports’ premier VIP experience at the best sporting events in the UK and overseas and is exclusively for guests who want a unique, high quality and memorable day packed with guest speakers, exclusive merchandise, interactive entertainment and more!

Corinthian Sports are proud to offer our new Pegasus Lounge at the Epsom Derby. Located in a stunning structure, positioned to the left of the main Grandstand on the famous Tattenham Straight – a pivotal point as the horses approach the final furlong of the race. Located in its own private enclosure with betting facilities.

The Pegasus Lounge packages includes:

  • Access to our exclusive glass-fronted private Pegasus Lounge
  • Pimm’s reception
  • Three-course “best of British” lunch
  • Afternoon Tea
  • Inclusive bar of beer, house wine, house spirits and soft drinks
  • Private viewing terrace and garden
  • Package inclusive of a Tattenham Enclosure ticket
  • Private tables of ten and twelve
  • Access to the Grandstand enclosure after-party
  • Private betting facilities
  • One parking pass per four guests
  • Corinthian staff in attendance throughout the day

Interested in attending the Epsom Derby? Book your tickets now to avoid disappointment!

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