Britain’s richest flat horse race has been running since 1780 and this year is the culmination of a two-day festival at Epsom Downs Racecourse and will draw a crowd of around 130,000. It has been held annually for 243 years, but was moved from 1915-18 and 1940-45 to Newmarket during both world wars.
The Derby, also known as the Epsom Derby or Derby Stakes, is worth £1.5m, of which £850,650 goes to the winner, who was last year’s 5-2 favorite Desert Crown, trained by Sir Michael Stoute and owned by Saeed Suhail.
What is it?
The pinnacle of the flat season, the Derby is one of five English racing classics apart from the Oak which takes place at Epsom the day before, the 1000 Guineas, the St Leger and the 2000 Guineas. The Derby is a race for three-year-old colts and fillies, running for one mile, four furlongs, and 10 yards at Epsom Downs, a particularly undulating course with a steep incline towards the rails of the homestretch.
When is the Epsom Derby?
The Derby takes place on Saturday June 3, on the second day of the Festival. Two more Group 1 races, Oaks and Coronation Cup, will take place on Friday June 2, Ladies Day.
Following the riots at the Grand National, when 118 protesters were arrested for trying to stick to some of the fences, the Jockey Club vowed to employ “robust” security measures for this year’s race after animal rights protesters they said they would attack the event. .
Animal Rising plans to disrupt the world’s largest plane race on June 3 and the group claims it will rally up to 1,000 protesters who will block and stick to the perimeter fence.
The Jockey Club and the British Horseracing Authority are believed to have received some assurance from the protest group that they will not attempt to enter the track once the race has started; an act that would endanger not only their own lives, but also the lives of the riders and the horses they are supposed to protect.
Jockey Club chief executive Nevin Truesdale said: “We have been working with Surrey Police to ensure we have robust security in place. While we respect everyone’s right to peaceful and legal protest, we condemn illegal and reckless plans to breach security in an effort to disrupt track action and jeopardize the safety of participants in the strongest terms.”
Meanwhile, the organizers have introduced an LGBTQIA+ area to encourage a more diverse horse racing audience to attend.
The “celebration” venue, which will feature free queer literature and drag performances, will open on the first day of racing.
While the Jockey Club hopes it will make the event more “inclusive”, others believe it is simply a PR stunt that will do little to open up the sport.
A large festival-style tent will be set up on the Hill, the area in the center of the racecourse where spectators can watch the Derby for free.
It will include a bar and DJ, along with performances by drag queens Cara Melle and Bonk.
Said to “combine entertainment and education,” it will also provide a library of queer literature to “encourage more people in the LGBTQIA+ community to feel empowered to attend and participate in horse racing.”
What time does the race start?
The incumbent should send them off at 1:30 p.m. on June 3, earlier than normal due to the FA Cup final being scheduled for the same day.
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