Epsom Derby Guide

The Epsom Derby is the UK’s richest flat horse race with a £1.6 million prize fund

Run over the famous Epsom Downs Racecourse, with a crowd capacity of 130,000 racegoers, the Derby Festival is one of the greatest British summer flat racing celebrations; the highlights being the Oaks and the Coronation Cup on Ladies Day, and the centrepiece of the festival, The Derby on Day 2.

Now called the ‘Cazoo’ Derby, for sponsorship reasons, the Derby Festival, has one of the biggest prize funds in UK racing, matched only by the prestige that victory in the main event brings.

Derby Day combines exhilarating horse racing with style, sophistication, exquisite hospitality and a great day out. Derby Day is also a rather royal affair, with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in attendance most years.

The Epsom Derby is considered to be the 'Blue Riband' of the turf

Steeped in history, The Derby is the most famous Classic flat horse race in the world, with Derby Day being one of the biggest events on the summer horse racing festival calendar.

A Group 1 race, The Derby is strictly for the next generation of young horses, and only open to 3-year-old colts and fillies. First tun in 1780, it’s also the most prestigious of Britain’s 5 Classic races that are competed during every flat racing season.

Run over a distance of 1 mile and 4 furlongs, on the very testing course that is Epsom Downs, The Derby is regarded as the ultimate test of horse and jockey. It’s the one race that everyone wants to win.

The Derby is also the most famous (middle) leg of the three races that combine to make up the famous Triple Crown of British horse racing. The feat of winning all three of the classics, The Guineas, The Derby and The St Leger, last won by the mighty Nijinsky who completed the treble in 1970 – one of only 15 horses that have managed to achieve this feat since the first Guineas race in 1809.

Derby winners include legendary horses such as Seabird, Mill Reef, Galileo, Nijinsky and the ill-fated Shergar, who won the Derby by at least 10 lengths, before kidnapped by the IRA, and never seen again. Watch him win again below…

The Derby Festival: 2-Days of superb horseracing

Oaks Day

Annapurna, by Frankel, wins 2020 Oaks at Epsom

Day One of The Derby Festival is Ladies Day and is known simply as The Oaks. It presents seven incredible races including the featured race of the day, The Oaks, which offers a purse of just over half a million pounds. The winner of The Oaks in 2020 was Anapurna – sired by the legendary Frankel. Frankie Dettori onboard.


2.00pm Cazoo Woodcote EBF Stakes 6F ITV1
2.35pm Ebbisham Handicap Stakes 1M 113Y ITV1
3.10pm Coronation Cup (Group 1) 1M 4F ITV1
3.45pm Cazoo Handicap Stakes 1M 2F ITV1
4.30pm Cazoo Oaks (Group 1) 1M 4F ITV1
5.10pm Surrey Stakes 7F RACING TV
5.40pm Cazoo Derby Festival Handicap Stakes 7F RACING TV

Derby Day

Serpentine wins Derby 2020

Day Two of The Derby Festival is Derby Day. Seven more spectacular races take place on Derby Day, including The Derby itself, which offers over £1.6 million in prize money, with nearly £1 million going to the outright winner. The winner in 2020 was Coolmore Stud’s chestnut colt Serpentine.


2.00pm Cazoo Handicap Stakes 1M 2F ITV1
2.35pm Princess Elizabeth Stakes (Group 3)
(sponsored by Cazoo)
1M 113Y ITV1
3.10pm Diomed Stakes (Group 3) 1M 113Y ITV1
3.45pm ‘Dash’ Handicap Stakes 5F ITV1
4.30pm Cazoo Derby (Group 1) 1M 4F ITV1
5.15pm Northern Dancer Handicap Stakes 1M 4F RACING TV
5.50pm Epsom Welcomes Cazoo Handicap Stakes
(For the Tokyo Trophy)

Day 1 - Oaks Day 2021 Racing Action Video

Simply Snowfall with Frankie Dettori onboard wins the Cazoo Oaks for Aidan O’Brien on Day 1 of the 2021 Epsom Derby Festival by a massive 16 lengths. To watch all the racing action from the first day of the 2021 Derby Festival click the video link below…

Snowfall wins Musidora and is a contender for the Epsom Oaks

Day 2 - Derby Day 2021 Racing Action Video

The 2021 winner of the 242nd annual Derby race at Epsom Downs Racecourse on Saturday 5 June was Adayar ridden by Adam Kirby, trained by Charlie Appleby and owned by Godolphin. To watch all the racing action from the second day  of the 2021 Derby Festival click, including the Derby (5th race) click the video link below…

Adayer wins 2021 Epsom Derby

Epsom Downs & The Derby

The first Derby took place at Epsom Downs Racecourse in 1780. The race is named after the 12th Earl of Derby following the toss of a coin between the Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury. The first ever Derby was won by Diomed, a colt owned by Sir Charles Bunbury. In addition to The Derby, the other big race on this prestigious event in flat racing, is The Oaks, for the fillies, which predates even The Derby.

While other racecourses and famous races have borrowed the Derby name since then, including the Kentucky Derby, for differentiation purposes, the Derby at Epsom is commonly referred to as the Epsom Derby, or simply as The Derby.

Epsom Downs is famous for thoroughbred flat racing. A traditional ‘downs’ course, Epsom Racecourse hosts a number of flat racing fixtures over the summer from the start of June to the end of September. The grandest of these is the 2-day Derby Festival in early June.

Epsom Downs is a premier Grade 1 Racecourse owned by the Jockey Club, situated on the North Downs at Epsom in Surrey. With its long association with the British Royal family, Epsom Downs Racecourse has immense historical importance. The first race was held here in 1661.

Epsom Downs Grandstands


One of the most impressive stands in British racing, the Queen’s Stand is situated right at the heart of the racing action. Delivering an unrivalled racing and entertainment experience, it’s the racecourse’s premium enclosure.

With prime access to the Parade Ring, Queen’s Stand ticket-holding racegoers can follow the horses all the way to the track before taking up a spot to watch the races on the steppings or the Queen’s Stand Lawn.

With direct sight lines over the finishing straight and Winning Post, it’s the perfect spot to watch the greatest thoroughbred horses in the world storm home to victory and the celebrations in the Winner’s Circle.

The Moët & Chandon Terrace, situated within the Queen’s Stand enclosure, is a sophisticated haven away from the crowds with comfortable seating and views across the racecourse.


The £37 million redevelopment of Epsom Downs Racecourse in 2009 involved the creation of a major new grandstand, enclosure and entrance pavilion. Known as the Duchess Stand, it provides an excellent relaxed atmosphere and fantastic viewing of the racing action.

The grandstand incorporates a huge betting,conference and exhibition hall with superb catering and bar facilities with upper floors providing flexible conference and banqueting facilities, high end corporate boxes and prime club facilities.

Epsom Downs Racecourse Grandstands
Racegoers at Epsom Downs center course enclosures on Derby Day

Epsom Downs Enclosures


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


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.


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 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 IT for free! What’s more quintessentially British than indulging in a picnic at the races?

NOTE: Due to COVID-19 limited spectator capacities to safely maintain social distancing, only the Queen’s Stand and Duchess Stand Enclosures will be open for the 2021 Epson Derby Festival. The Lonsdale enclosure open-top buses, Upper Tattenham, and Hill enclosures will not be open this year.

Dining & hospitality


Whether you’re hosting clients or enjoying a day out with friends and family, do it in style in a private box with stunning views out aross the course, your own personal host and complimentary bar. Entertain friends in luxury while listening to the roar of the crowds and the thundering sound of hooves racing by, all from the comfort of your own private box and balcony, or book a ‘fine dining’ table in either the Derby or Downs Suite Restaurants.


  • Champagne Reception and canapés on arrival
  • Three course seated lunch for 10 or more guests
  • Traditional afternoon tea with finger sandwiches and homemade scones
  • Complimentary bar of Champagne, beer, wine, premium spirits and soft drinks
  • Private box for you and your guests on the second floor of the Duchess Stand
  • Private balcony with excellent views of the finishing straight
  • Access to a shared balcony with views of the Parade Ring and London skyline
  • Full admission to the Grandstand Enclosure and Tote betting facility
  • Car parking pass (1 per 4 guests) & lots more benefits
View of Epsom Downs racecourse track from Duchess Grandstand

Epsom Derby Dress Code

While the Dress Code for Epsom Downs Derby Festival is not as rigid as that for Royal Ascot, nevertheless style and sophisitaction is still to be seen in abundance at this superb festival with many a fascinator and top hat to be seen around the racetrack and in the hospitality areas.


For Owners, Members and Hospitality guests, the Queen’s Stand Dress code applies. On Oaks Day, please follow the Grandstand Enclosure raceday style requirements. However, on Derby Day:

  • Male racegoers are required to wear either black or grey morning dress which should include a top hat, service dress or full national costume.
  • For ladies, formal day wear is required, which can include a formal day dress or a tailored trouser suit, with a hat or substantial fascinator.
  • Children should be dressed smartly.


  • Guests are encouraged to dress smartly.
  • Ladies often wear a fascinator or hat but it is not a requirement.
  • Gentlemen often wear a smart jacket but it is not a requirement.
  • No sportswear or sleeveless vests should be worn.
  • Smart denim is acceptable but should not be frayed, torn or ripped.
  • Guests must not wear sports trainers.
  • Children should be dressed smartly.
Royal Ascot racegoers dressed to impress
Epsom Derby Style Awards logo

Epsom Derby Style Awards

The Style Awards take place on Oaks Day, also known as Ladies’ Day. It’s open to both male and female racegoers with some fabulous prizes on offer! Epsom are seeking to find and celebrate the very best dressed people on course, so make sure that you’re one of them and take this opportunity to dress up and celebrate in style. Entry is in person at the Style Pod, located on the Hyperion Lawn.

A year’s supply of dresses from Chi Chi London
A year’s supply of shirts from Charles Tyrwhitt
Exclusive Jessica Rea Headpiece, plus a Personal Styling Consultation for your Fashion needs
The Velvetiser Hot Chocolate System from Hotel Chocolat
Jeroboam of Moët & Chandon
Winners Bouquet

A £250 voucher for Chi Chi London
A £250 voucher for Charles Tyrwhitt
Hotel Chocolat Chocolates
Bottle of Moët & Chandon
Runner ups Bouquet

A £100 voucher for Chi Chi London
A £100 voucher for Charles Tyrwhitt
Hotel Chocolat Chocolates
Bottle of Moët & Chandon
Runners Up Bouquet

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