The Epsom Downs racecourse is a flat racing venue situated in Epsom, Surrey and is home to the Derby meeting, which includes three of the most highly anticipated group one races in the racing calendar, the Oaks, the Epsom Derby and the Coronation Cup.
The Oaks – a race for fillies – and Derby are both races for three year olds and hold a special significance in UK racing due to the history of the events and prestige that comes with winning them. Both races are part of the five British Classics, which also consist of Newmarket’s 1000 and 2000 Guineas as well as the St Leger Stakes. No horse has won all five races.
The Derby (run over a distance of 1 1/2 miles) also forms part of the Triple Crown of racing which involve winning the 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and St Leger Stakes. This is of course more doable than winning all five British Classics but still a rare feat, as attested to by the year it was last won, 1970 (by Nijinksy).
Let’s also not forget the Fillie’s Triple crown (1,000 Guineas Stakes, Epsom Oaks and St. Leger Stakes), itself only won nine times, last in 1985. The gist is the both the Oaks and Derby are at the heart of UK flat racing, with those at the top of their game striving to win. Just look at recent winners of the Oaks for instance, Minding in 2016 and Enable the following year.
With such huge races being hosted here, it’s no surprise that the racecourse has an equally large capacity – 130,000. The Queen and family are known to have attended the Derby meeting on many occasions due to its Royal connections. Racing has taken place at the course since the 1700’s.