Epsom Downs Racecourse logo


Epsom Downs Racecourse logo

Home of the Epsom Derby

Epsom Downs is a premier Grade 1 racecourse owned by the Jockey Club situated on the North Downs at Epsom in Surrey.  With a crowd capacity of 130,000 racegoers, Epsom Downs is famous for thoroughbred flat horse racing, and in particular for hosting the prestigious Derby and Oaks each year in June, with the former popularly known as the richest flat race in Britain.

A traditional ‘downs’ course, Epsom Racecourse hosts 11 top-class flat racing fixtures over the summer from the start of June to the end of September. The racecourse has immense historical importance, with the first race being held here way back in 1661. The course has enjoyed a long association with the British Royal Family, with the Queen attending the Epsom Derby most years.

The Investec Derby Festival run over 2 days in early June is one of the the greatest British Summer flat racing celebrations, the highlights being the Oaks and the Coronation Cup on Day 1 – Ladies Day, and the centrepiece of the festival, The Derby on Day 2.

Investec Derby Festival / Epsom Derby Festival
Epsom Derby Ladies Day Tickets
Epsom Derby Day Tickets

The Racing

The vibrant atmosphere, roaring laughter and thundering hooves of top quality racing are what make t
Often called the Epsom Derby, it’s the UK’s premier thoroughbred horse race for 3-year-old colts and fillies, over a mile and a half (2400m). A huge test for thoroughbreds with a steep uphill climb then followed by a challenging bending descent, horses have to turn right and then left ahead of a stiff final furlong.  Epsom also hosts the Oaks Stakes, often called the Epsom Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies, and the Coronation Cup for horses aged 4 years and upwards.  All three races are Group 1 races and run over the same course and distance and are part of the Qipco British Champions Series.

The Epsom Derby is the most famous flat horse race in the world. This race is steeped in history and has been the focus of the summer racing months in Britain since 1780. The Twelfth Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury instigated the race during the celebrations for the first running of The Oaks, which was first raced in 1779. The race was run over the distance of one mile (eight furlongs) initially, however extended to the one and a half mile trip we still see to this day from 1784. It took however until 1991 for technology to reveal that indeed the one mile four furlong race was actually one mile, four furlongs and 10 yards. It took the Earl seven years to win his own race, in 1787 with Sir Peter Teazle.

The Epsom Derby is the most prestigious leg of the five classic races that are competed in Britain during every flat racing season. The race is strictly for the next generation of horses, open only to three year old colts and fillies. It is also the middle leg of the three races that combine to make up the famous Triple Crown. The feat of winning all three of the classics, The Guineas, The Derby and The St Leger has not been achieved since the mighty Nijinsky completed the treble in 1970.

Only fifteen horses have managed to achieve this feat since The Guineas race came into existence in 1809. When you consider the difficulty of breeding any one horse to win any one of these great races at this most elite level, it is soon easy to understand why so few horses have achieved this over the years. Breeding traits have also played a hand. The connections that have control of the most powerful breeding establishments, are no longer renowned for wishing to breed the type of horse that can win all three races. In many corners it is understood these bloodstock professionals do not want to taint the blood lines of their faster middle distance horses.

The Epsom Derby is considered the ‘Blue Riband’ of all the classic races. Winning the Epsom Derby of course is highly satisfying for the connections of any Derby winning horse. Victory at Epsom in early June adds huge financial value to the future progeny of any Derby winner. In recent years the Derby winner and now champion sire Galileo has set new the benchmark for future generations since winning The Epsom Derby in 2001 and his progeny are highly acclaimed at auction.

Aintree National Course fence construction

Grand National Fences


The vibrant atmosphere, roaring laughter and thundering hooves of top quality racing are what make the Investec Derby Festival an unmistakably British event and The Greatest Summer Celebration.

John Smith's Grand National

The Derby

If it weren’t for the 12th Earl of Derby, perhaps Epsom would be best known for natural mineral water Epsom Salts. Epsom stands for horse racing, and the Investec Oaks and the Investec Derby in particular.

The earl invited his friends to race their fillies on the Epsom Downs in 1779 and thus The Oaks was born. A year later and a race for both colts and fillies was introduced. Named on the toss of a winning coin by the Earl, what is today flat racing’s Blue Riband event, it was christened The Derby .

The racecourse has witnessed some of the sport’s most glorious moments, with Nijinsky, Mill Reef and Shergar among the horses to enter the winner’s enclosure. It has also seen tragedy, however, when suffragette Emily Davison threw herself in front of King George V’s horse Anmer in 1913 and died of a fractured skull.

The Racetrack

The course at Epsom is a rollercoaster of left and right and undulations around the left-handed horseshoe-shaped course of a mile and a half. There is a downhill five-furlong straight course that is the fastest of its kind in the world. Front runners are difficult to catch given the series of difficult undulations over all distances. The track is a huge test for thoroughbreds who require balance and stamina to be effective, especially with a steep uphill climb over the final furlong to the line.

Aintree Racecourse - facilities map - click to enlarge

Aintree Racecourse Enclosures & Grandstands

Queen’s Stand

One of the most impressive stands in British racing, the Queen’s Stand is at the heart of the action.


The superb Grandstand, where the Duchess’s Stand is located, provides an excellent relaxed atmosphere to view the racing.


One of iconic images of the Investec Derby Festival is the famous open top buses that line the closing yards of the track to the finish.

Upper Tattenham

With a trackside view all the way down to the pivotal Tattenham Corner, betting facilities and the opportunity see the event unfolding in front of you, it represents excellent value.

Hillside Enclosure

The Hillside Enclosure is brand new for 2017, with entertainment for all members of the family. Step to the left for inflatables, pony rides and magicians in the Family Zone, or to the right for live music and giant garden games in the Garden Party

The Poundland Hill

The Poundland Hill is the famous free area at the centre of the racecourse and is usually the heart of the party as people flock to its unique carnival atmosphere. No tickets are required to access the Poundland Hill on either day – just turn up and enjoy for free!

Great British Picnic

What is more quintessentially British than indulging in a picnic at the Investec Derby Festival?

Aintree Racecourse Map + Contact Details

Address Aintree Racecourse, Ormskirk Road, Aintree, Liverpool, L9 5AS
Tel. 0151 523 2600
Website http://aintree.thejockeyclub.co.uk/
Email aintree@thejockeyclub.co.uk
Events http://aintree.thejockeyclub.co.uk/events-tickets/whats-on/
Tickets http://aintree.thejockeyclub.co.uk/events-tickets/whats-on/
Rail Nearest station is Aintree. Services every 15 minutes on racedays from Liverpool Lime Street.
Driving Aintree Racecourse is located on the A59, one mile from the M57 and M58 and 6 miles north of Liverpool, which was awarded the title ‘European Capital of Culture’ in 2008.

2017 Aintree Grand National

Grand National Festival

6-8th April 2017 @ Aintree Racecourse, Ormskirk Road, Aintree, Liverpool, L9 5AS
0151 523 2600

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The Jockey Club Operate 15 of the UK’s leading racecourses and staging a quarter of the UK’s fixture list of race meetings, including the Epsom Derby, The Aintree Grand National and Cheltenham Festival. Jockey Club Racecourses is the UK’s largest racecourse group and aims to ensure British horseracing remains the best in the world for many years to come. Jockey Club Racecourses is committed to investing in the quality of racing and preserving the UK’s historic racecourses for upcoming generations.

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