In June two of the best flat races in the world will be run at the Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey. On Saturday 4th June THE DERBY takes place. The race is open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies and is run over a distance of one mile, four furlongs and 10 yards (2,423 metres). With winnings in excess of one million pounds, the Derby offers one of the biggest prizes in UK racing. However, the prestige that victory brings is even more important than the prize money. Being one of the oldest and greatest of all horse races, it remains the one race that every jockey, trainer and owner wants to win.
The Paddock is where the horses are led around having been saddled immediately before the race. The jockeys mount the horses here too. Unsurprisingly this tends to be the centre of activity and is a great spot to soak up the atmosphere. Some of the most famous jockeys, trainers and owners will be seen having a final chat before the race, or being interviewed by television reporters. It should be noted that only guests in the Queen’s Stand and Duchess’s stands have access to the Paddock. Needless to say all of the enclosures provide a good view of the course and hence the races.
The Derby boasts an unrivalled roll of honour, from legendary names such as Sea Bird, Nijinsky, Mill Reef, Shergar, Galileo and more right up to last year’s winner Golden Horn. Subsequently the winners are put to stud to continue the blood line and owners can then earn millions of pounds in stud fees.
The day before on Friday 3rd June 2016 THE OAKS is run over the same distance as the Derby. This race is open to three-year-old thoroughbred fillies. The day of the Oaks is designated Ladies’ Day. This is a day when women have the chance to dress up in their finery and show off their good taste in fashion – especially their hats! Many compete to win the much sought after title of ‘Best Dressed Lady’.
The fillies race is named after The Oaks, an estate located to the east of Epsom which was leased to the 12th Earl of Derby in the 18th century. He and his guests devised the race during a party at the estate in 1778 and it was first run in 1779. At a celebration following the first running of the Oaks Stakes, a new race was planned. It was decided that it should be named after the host of the party, the Earl of Derby himself. The inaugural running of the Derby was held on Thursday 4 May 1780.
The train journey from Victoria Station in London to Epsom Downs station takes approximately 50 minutes. For further information about the races and to buy tickets go to http://www.epsomderby.co.uk/
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