18 facts that you may not know about The Epsom Derby.

The Epsom Derby.

Without the presence of the Queen or its usual crowds, the Epsom Derby, one of most prestigious of the English classics, went head in July as a non-spectator sport despite being been cancelled for the first time since the Second World War. 

One of the shortest courses at 1 mile, 4 furlongs and 10 yards, Epsom hosts over 130,000 spectators each year. Yet 2020’s event saw strict measures to keep those onsite safe. Some of the measures in place included a three-stage health check, social distancing measures throughout the course as well as detailed guidance for participants on how to be safe and minimise risk.

Epsom became a spa in the early 17th century when a spring containing Epsom salts was discovered on the common. Its popularity with London society brought visits from Samuel Pepys and Nell Gwyn among many others, plus the development of shops, inns and the oldest spa assembly rooms in England.

1661 saw the first recorded race meeting to be held on the Downs and the tradition continued until the summer of 1780 when one of today’s greatest sporting spectacles was established.

We have rounded up some of the most interesting facts about the Derby that you can impress your friends with:

18 Facts about you may not know about the Epsom Derby

1. Lord Rosebery was expelled from Oxford University for buying a racehorse and entering it in the derby (it came last) and is the only person to have owned the Derby winner while Prime Minister. He won the Classic both in 1894 with Ladas and the following year with Sir Visto.

3. U (Umiddad was beaten a head in 1943), X and Z (Zionist was second in 1935) are the only three letters of the alphabet with which a Derby winner’s name has not begun. Quest For Fame’s victory in 1990 accounted for Q.

Guild Living Epsom Downs The Derby

4. The oldest winning jockey was John Forth, who was over 60 when he partnered Frederick to victory in the 1829 Derby. He also has the distinction of having trained the winner, as well as the runner-up, The Exquisite, with both colts, returned at 40/1. Mick Kinane was 49 when partnering Sea The Stars to victory in 2009, while Scobie Breasley was 52 when successful on Charlottown in 1966.

5. The oldest stallion to sire a Derby winner has been Muley, who was 26 when he sired Little Wonder (1840). The youngest have both been four: Blue Peter responsible for Ocean Swell (1944), and Prince Chevalier for Arctic Prince (1951).

6. Steve Donoghue is the only jockey to have ridden three consecutive Derby winners – Humorist (1921), Captain Cuttle (1922) and Papyrus (1923).

7. Sailor is the only horse to have won the Derby on his real third birthday – he turned 3-years old on 18th May 1820.

8. The 1952 film, Derby Day, directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Michael Wilding and Anna Neagle, is set entirely around the Epsom Derby.

9. Alex Greaves became the first lady jockey to ride in the race in 1996. She finished last of the 20 runners on the filly, Portuguese Lil.

10. The Derby is also famous for the suffragette Emily Davidson who threw herself Infront of King George V horse suffering fatal injuries.

11. With nine wins to his name, Lester Piggott has been first past the post more times than any other jockey.

12. Shergar won the race by the longest distance (10 lengths) in 1981 before the colt disappeared without a trace.

13. More than twice as many Derby winners (43 instances) have had names beginning with S than with any other letter with the most popular number of letters being eight (46 instances).

14. Aidan O’Brien and his 19-year-old son, Joseph, became the first father-son trainer-jockey combination to win the race in 2012.

15. Workforce holds the record for the fastest winning time of 2 minutes, 31.33 seconds in 2010.

Guild Living Epsom Downs Grandstand

16. Aidan O’Brien became the first trainer to win three Derby’s back to back from 2012 to 2014.

17. Franki Dettori won 2015 the Derby on Golden Horn, completing the race in 2 minutes, 32.32 seconds.

18. Six fillies have won the Derby. The most recent was Fifinella in 1916, who also won the Oaks. The other five were Eleanor (1801), Blink Bonny (1857), Shotover (1882), Signorinetta (1908), Tagalie (1912).

Who won the 2020 Epsom Derby?

1. Serpentine 25/1

Trained by A P O’Brien and ridden by Emmet McNamara, this horse rushed up early, made almost all jumps.

2. Khalifa Sat 50/1

In close second was Khalifa Sat trained by Andrew Balding and ridden by Tom Marquand. Racing in second throughout it is said this horse was no match for the winner.

3. Amhran Na Bhfiann

In third place, a prominent horse trained by A P O’Brien and ridden by William Buick.

How to register for 2021.

If you can’t wait for next year’s event, sign up here to be the first to know when tickets go on sale for 2021 and be in with the chance of getting exclusive early bird pricing.

Did you watch this year’s event? Let us know if you have signed up to attend next years Derby!