Is horse racing a hobby or a passion for you? Do you enjoy Royal Pageantry, social outings, celebrity sightings, and field fashions? What about carnival rides and sideshows, or food and beverages?
Every year, 125,000 people flock to Epsom Downs to watch the Investec Derby Festival, the world’s greatest flat race. The iconic Derby Day and the style on the Downs, all set across the breathtaking vista of the Downs, make this a must-see event on the sporting calendar.
With less than ten days until the event, it’s time to brush up on our Epsom general knowledge. While shadow carriage will take care of other things for you such as event transportation by providing an event chauffeur, you must know some fun facts about the event which we’ve listed in this blog. Let’s start!
Victory in the Derby is regarded as the most prestigious of the five long-standing Group 1 horse races known as the British Classics. The other races are the 2000 Guineas, 1000 Guineas, Epsom Oaks, and St Leger Stakes, but the 1000 Guineas and Oaks are only for fillies. The Triple Crown (2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, and St Leger) are colt and filly horse races.
The race name was to be given to either the 12th Earl of Derby, who hosted the event, or his guest, Sir Charles Bunbury, at a celebration following the first running of the Oak Stakes in 1779. The final decision was made by a coin toss (though it is also believed that Bunbury deferred to his gracious host). Bunbury is also the name of a famous horse race, the Bunbury Cup, which is held at Newmarket Racecourse each year at the end of their racing festival in July.
The starting point of the race on the Epsom Downs race track was moved twice, once in 1848, as suggested by Lord George Bentinck, and once in 1872. It wasn’t until 1991 that the race’s exact length was determined to be one mile, four furlongs, and ten yards.
The Derby has been held on the first Saturday of June every year since 1995; prior to that, it was held on the first Wednesday of June from 1900 to 1995. (except for a few changes in war years). Prior to 1900, it was held on a Wednesday, and the Derby day racing at Epsom was first held in late May or early June.
The first Kentucky Derby race was held on May 17, 1875, at Churchill Downs. The race’s location has changed since. During the World Wars, the Derby had a venue change, with Newmarket serving as the alternate location, and it was dubbed the “New Derby” throughout the years.
With the Epsom Derby’s fame came imitations all over the world, most notably the Kentucky Derby in the United States, but there are several major races in the United States with the suffix Derby in their names. Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, and New Zealand all have premier Derby races for three-year-old horses, as does Japan with the Tokyo Yushun! The term “Derby” now refers to any horse race held anywhere in the world.
Apart from royalty, Charles Dickens was the Epsom Derby’s most famous historical celebrity, attending many meetings in the 1850s. Dickens’ involvement attracted artists from all walks of life to the races, resulting in inevitable collaborations that eventually evolved into crowd entertainment. Musicians, writers, artists, and public speakers, as well as clowns, magicians, and other entertainers, would perform in the racecourse’s centre. Steam-driver rides were introduced in the 1870s, and the area is now known as a full-fledged carnival. Because it is so popular, many people come just for the carnival and never see a horse.
With that said, you should definitely visit the Investec derby festival this year, or whenever you get the chance. Also, a Mercedes E-Class taxi would be perfect for your transportation which Shadow Carriage will bring to you at a call’s notice.