Known internationally as the Epsom Derby but more colloquially as The Derby or The Derby Stakes, this a flat race run over 1 mile, 4 furlongs and 10 yards. It takes place at Epsom Downs every year on the first Saturday in June and it is the biggest, richest horse race in the United Kingdom. Previous winners have in recent years earned prizes of up ?700,000.00 and the value of Aurhorized, the 2007 shot up to an incredibly ?10 million in stud fees.
The Epsom Derby first took place on May 4th 1780 and was named for the honor of the man hosting the party at which the initial idea for the race was conceived, Edward Smith-Stanley the 12th Earl of Derby, although he himself did not achieve success with one of his own horses until 1787. Since first taking taking its place in the horse racing calendar, The Derby has become an undoubted inspiration for a great many other horse races around the world including the Irish Derby, the well known Kentucky Derby, the Victoria Derby and the Prix du Jockey Club (The French Derby).
Trial races for horses considered most likely to compete, are run during April and May, and this has proven to be highly successful in demonstrating potential winners for future years.
Many famous names are associated with the long and illustrious history of the Epsom Derby, most noted of all being the jockey Lester Piggott who rode no less than 9 winners in his career between the years 1954 and 1983. Amongst trainers it is necessary to go back long into the past glories of the race to find those who have 7 wins to their name, amongst them Robert Robson, John Porter, and most recently Fred Darling with his last winner Owen Tudor in 1941. But when it comes to horses who have won this most illustrious of races, the name Shergar will always stand out, not only for his extraordinary record 10 length winning margin in 1981, but for his infamous kidnapping from the Irish Ballymany Stud in County Kildare, at the hands of masked gunmen in 1983. He was never found.
The course over which the Epsom Derby is run, is in itself quite unique. Filled with twists, turns, falls and rises along its entire length, it is considered to be the ultimate test of both racehorse stamina and jockeying skill. Whilst for those who come to watch the spectacle, it is world renowned for eloquently displaying all layers of social class gathering together, and it generates a party atmosphere that other racing venues are certainly hard pressed to emulate.