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A Short Guide to Epsom Downs Racecourse

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Epsom Racecourse : Epsom Downs Racecourse, Epsom Downs, Surrey, KT18 5LQ

Epsom Downs is a Grade 1 racecourse near Epsom, Surrey, the course is best known for hosting the Epsom Derby, the UK’s premier horse race for three-year-old colts and fillies over a mile and a half. It also hosts the Epsom Oaks the top race for three-year-old fillies over the same distance.

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The first recorded race held on the Epsom Downs was in the 17th century, however it is likely racing took place well before that. In 1779, the Earl of Derby organised a race for himself and his friends to race their three-year-old fillies. He named it the Oaks after his estate. The race became so successful that the following year a new race was added for colts and fillies – the Epsom Derby. In 1784 the course was extended to its current distance of a mile and a half and Tattenham Corner was introduced.

The Derby and the Oaks have a long and fascinating history which include the famous incident in 1913 when the suffragette Emily Davison threw herself in front of King George V’s horse. Davison was badly injured and died four days later.

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Course Description
The 1 mile 4 furlong course is horseshoe shaped and run left handed. The course is sharp and has some undulations. The final bend into the home straight is very tight and known as Tattenham Corner.

Facilities

For non Investec Derby meetings, the entrance ticket allows you access to all areas within the Queens Stand and the Grandstand.

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For the Investec Derby the following enclosures are available :

The Queen’s Stand

The premier enclosure which is on the finishing line and above the weighing room with prime viewing of the Winner’s Circle. You can access the Parade Ring and follow horses all the way to the track before taking up a spot to watch the race on the steppings or the Queen’s Stand Lawn.
Ticket holders can also access the Duchess’s Stand giving you additional access to bookmakers’ as well main public betting hall and Champagne lawn.

The Grandstand

The Grandstand, where the Duchess’s Stand is located allows you access to the bookmakers’ ring and extensive steppings to take in all the action.
There are also a number of reserved seats for the Investec Derby Festival which you can book with your admission ticket for the day and this will guarantee you a seat for the day.
The Grandstand gives you additional access to the Paddock and Bookmakers’ facilities.

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The Lonsdale Enclosure

Opposite the main stands, the Lonsdale Enclosure is the grass enclosure where you can get right up to the rails and see the horses thunder past. This is a very popular enclosure as you’re right in front of all the action.
Food and drink for own consumption can be taken into this area.

The Upper Tattenham Enclosure

This is one of the enclosures that allows a view all the way down to the Tattenham Corner, there are betting facilities and Food and drink for own consumption can be brought into this area.

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Family Enclosure on The Hill

The Family Enclosure On The Hill is a new enclosure designed to provide families with the opportunity to enjoy the renowned atmosphere of the Downs in a safe, family friendly environment.
With access to exclusive toilet facilities, bars, betting facilities, picnic tables, catering units serving a variety of options and a big screen to watch the racing, this is a way for adults and children alike to experience one of Britain’s biggest days out in a comfortable, family environment. Plus, there is a host of complimentary entertainment to keep the kids occupied and exercised throughout the day.
Food and drink for own consumption can also be brought into this enclosure at no cost.

Dress Code

When Non Investec Derby meetings there is a general smart casual dress code. Jackets and trousers with a collared shirt are encouraged but smart denim and smart trainers are acceptable.

Investec Derby meeting – There are specific dress codes for some of the enclosures .

Directions
By Car: The course is a few minutes from Epsom Town Centre on the B290 Epsom Downs Road. From the M25 the course is just off of junction 9. AA signs mark all major approach routes.

By Rail: The nearest station is Epsom where it is only a short bus or taxi ride to the course. Alternatively, Tattenham Corner Station from London Victoria only, is a half mile walk to the course.

If you would like further information , visit the Epsom racecourse website here

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Review : Epsom Derby Day 2014

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Over 160 years ago, Charles Dickens with his customary relish attended the Epsom Derby and  wrote his impressions.

Well, to be sure, there never was such a Derby Day, as this present Derby Day! Never, to be sure, were there so many carriages, so many fours, so many twos, so many ones, so many horsemen, so many people who have come down by ” rail,” so many fine ladies in so many broughams, so many of Fortnum and Mason’s hampers, so much ice and champagne!  And now, Heavens! all the hampers fly wide open, and the green Downs burst into a blossom of lobster-salad!

How does attending  the Derby in the 21st century compare ? there is still large numbers of people thronging the Grandstands and the Hill overlooking the course.

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It is one of the more  unusual courses in England with its long descent into Tattenham corner and the roller coaster  of a course from three furlongs out to the finish line.

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In Dickens time the entertainment was  basic with  a multitude of small acts to entertain.

Now, rings are formed upon the course, where strong men stand in pyramids on one another’s heads; where the Highland lady dances; where the Devonshire Lad sets-to with the Bantam; where the Tumbler throws the golden globes about, with the starry little boy tied round him in a knot.

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The modern entertainment is somewhat more spectacular with marching bands and Red Devils parachutists falling from the sky.

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And it is a royal occasion with her Majesty the Queen crossing the channel in time to see the big race.

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 It certainly is the “big” race , worth millions to the winning connections and sporting immortality for horse and jockey.

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Crowds who have perhaps ignored some of the earlier races stream into the grandstands and the running rails for the “Derby” , for the crowd knows that all the other Derby around the world are mere imitations of this, the original.

Back to Dickens to describe the excitement of the race:

Here they are! Who is ? The horses! Where ? Here they come! Green first. No: Red first. No: Blue first. No: the Favorite first. Who says so ? Look! Hurrah! Hurrah! All over. Glorious race. Favorite wins! Two hundred thousand pounds lost and won.

And this is where history repeats itself, In the 2014 Derby the favourite wins but millions of pounds will be won and lost .

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Australia by name, but really an Irish victory with Joseph O’Brien riding the winner for his father trainer Aiden O’Brien.

The expected rain clouds kept away as the crowds bathed in sultry sunshine, happy in the knowledge that once again, one of  London’s and Britain’s great sporting institutions has lived up to expectations.

All you need to know about the Epsom Derby

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Epsom Downs on Derby Day

On the 7th June we see the 235th running of the Epsom Derby, it is Britain’s richest horse race with is worth £1.325 million in prize money.
It has been run at the Epsom Downs for all its 235th runnings except for the war years when the race was run at Newmarket.
Run over a distance of one mile, four furlongs and 10 yards, and is scheduled for early June each year. It is a Group 1 flat horse race in England open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies.

The origins of the Derby was in a meeting between the Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury, according to legend it was decided that a major new race would be named by the toss of a coin. The Earl of Derby won and the rest is history.

The first running of the Derby was held in 1780. It was won by Diomed, a colt that was owned ironically by Sir Charles Bunbury, the first four runnings were contested over 1 mile, but this was changed to the current distance of 1½ miles in 1784.

In the 19th century, Derby Day was almost a holiday in London with huge crowds travelling from the Capital, not only for the race but also enjoy all the other entertainment available on the Epsom Downs.

When Charles Dickens visited Epsom Downs in the 1850s he wrote about the numerous entertainers entertaining the crowds.

(c) Paintings Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The Derby Day by William Powell Firth – 1858 (Victoria and Albert Museum)

A William Powell Frith painting entitled The Derby Day gives a some indication of some of the visitors to the Downs, latter in the 19th century a fair with steam driven rides was a popular attraction.
However in the latter part of the 20th Century, the unofficial holiday for Londoners was curtailed by people having to work, therefore a decision was made in 1995 to move the race from Wednesday to Saturday in 1995.

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The modern Derby Day is still a spectacle but the entertainment is centred more around the race itself and the Oaks the day before.
Known as the Investec Derby Festival it has became a mixture of Classic horse racing and Fashion.

Jodie Kidd by Pip for Investec / JSC Sport
Ladies’ Day on Friday culminates with Oaks in which the world’s finest three year old fillies battling it out for £425,000 in prize money.

If you are considering attending the race there is a number of traditions you need to be aware.

Each enclosure on the course will have a ticket price and rules related to dress code.

The most expensive enclosure is the Queen’s Stand,the Queen’s Stand is on the finishing line and above the weighing room with viewing of the Winner’s Circle. You can access the Parade Ring viewing and follow horses all the way to the track before taking up a stop to watch the race on the stepping or the Queen’s Stand Lawn.

Dress code for the Queen’s Stand on Investec Derby Day is:
•Either black or grey morning dress with a top hat, service dress or full national costume is obligatory for gentlemen on Investec Derby Day
•Ladies must wear formal day dress, or a tailored trouser suit, with a hat or substantial fascinator
•Children should be dressed smartly

The next enclosure is the Grandstand, where the Duchess’s Stand is located, provides an relaxed atmosphere to view the racing from the bookmakers’ ring and extensive stepping to take in all the action.

There are also a number of reserved seats for the Investec Derby Festival which you can book with your admission ticket for the day and this will guarantee you a seat for the day.
The Grandstand gives you additional access to the Paddock and Bookmakers’ facilities.

Dress code for the Grandstand is :

•Guests are required to dress up for the Investec Derby Festival
•No sportswear, sleeveless vests, shorts or bare tops
•Smart denim must not have tears or rips
•Guests must not wear sports trainers
•Children should be dressed smartly
Grandstand Hospitality areas on both days
•Gentlemen must wear a jacket, collar, ties are encouraged
•Ladies are asked to wear a fascinator or hat
•Children should be dressed smartly
Fancy dress is not acceptable in the Queen’s Stand or Duchess’s Stand during the Investec Derby Festival.

If you are looking for a less formal enclosure you have the following :

The Family Enclosure On The Hill is a relatively new enclosure designed to provide families with the opportunity to enjoy the renowned atmosphere of the Downs in a safe, family friendly environment.

Opposite the main stands the Lonsdale Enclosure is the grass enclosure where you can get right up the rails to see the horse thunder past.  This is a very popular enclosure as you’re right in front of the all the action in the stands.
Food and drink for own consumption can be taken into this area

Another enclosure is the Upper Tattenham Enclosure.  With a trackside view all the way down to the pivotal Tattenham Corner, betting facilities and opportunity see the event in front of you it represents excellent value.
Food and drink for own consumption can be brought into this area.

Ticket prices

Queen’s Stand £99
Grandstand (Duchess’s Stand) £50
Grandstand Reserved Seating – An additional £65
Lonsdale Enclosure – £30
The Upper Tattenham Enclosure – £25
Family Enclosure – £15

For more information and to book tickets, visit the Epsom Racecourse website here .