A Grade 1 course in the Surrey town of Epsom, Epsom Downs Racecourse is home to some of the best flat racing in the country. Able to welcome as many as 130,000 people, racing has taken place here since 1661. The course is owned by the key Club, with the monarch often attending the biggest meetings in order to add a sense of propriety to proceedings. It plays host to some big-name races, with two of the country’s Classics being run at Epsom over the course of the year, with the racecourse differing from many on account of the fact that it has resisted adding National Hunt races to the calendar.
Fixtures at Epsom Downs Racecourse
There is one big meeting that stands out above all others, with the meetings being so impressive as to mean that most racecourse would kill to have it take place there. The meeting we need to tell you about is the Derby Festival, which sees the Epsom Derby take place on the first Saturday in June every year. The Oaks is held the day before, which is part of the reason why the meeting is held in such high regard; after all, how many course can say that they host one Classic, let alone two across successive days of the same meeting? Not many, is the obvious answer.
The course offers a stern test to horses, especially when they’re running the Derby, which is why its is also where the Coronation Cup takes place. This Group 1 flat race is held on the same day as the Oaks during the two-day Derby Festival, often seeing the same horses take place in it as might have run in one of the Classics the year before. As proof of how impressive the meeting is, it plays host to two Group 3 races in the form of the Princess Elizabeth Stakes and the Diomed Stakes and they barely get talked about because of the Group 1 races that dominate proceedings.
There is also a meeting worth mentioning that takes place in Spring. Cleverly named the Spring Meeting, the main races that are run in it are the City and Suburban Handicap, the Great Metropolitan Handicap and the Blue Riband Derby Trial Stakes. The first two are handicap events, whilst the last one is a Conditions race. It is also unique insomuch as it provides the winner with an automatic entry into the Derby, making it a race of great importance and putting the meeting in the diary of many flat racing trainers. There are other races run during the day ensuring it is worthy of your attention.
Whilst the horse racing is always going to dominate proceedings during the flat racing season, the lack of jump racing means that there aren’t actually that many meetings taking place at Epsom Downs. Bank Holiday Family Fun Day will capture the attention of some, but the course also plays host to non-racing events every now and then. The Snooker 900 is just such an event, welcoming legends of the game to play in a tournament that might not boast the same prestige as other snooker events but is still worthy of your time. Add in a Christmas Party and you can see it’s not just about the racing at Epsom.