Epsom Downs Racecourse

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Template:Infobox Racecourse 120,000 capacity Epsom Downs is a Grade 1 racecourse near Epsom, Surrey, England. The "downs" referred to in the name are part of the North Downs. The course is best known for hosting the Epsom Derby, the United Kingdom's premier thoroughbred horse race for three-year-old colts and fillies, over a mile and a half (2400m). It also hosts the Epsom Oaks for three-year-old fillies and the Coronation Cup for all ages over the same distance.

History

The first recorded race was held on the Downs in 1661,Template:Citation needed although a local burial list of 1625 refers to "William Stanley who in running the race fell from his horse and brake his neck" so it is likely that racing was established much earlier than that.Template:Sfn Epsom is referenced in the diary of Samuel Pepys in 1663 and Charles II is said to have been a racegoer there.Template:Sfn By 1684, Epsom had a clerk of the course and from 1730 was hosting twice yearly race meetings.Template:Sfn

In the summer of 1779 Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby organised a race for himself and his friends to race their three-year-old fillies. He named it the Oaks after his estate. The race became so successful that the following year a new race was added for colts and fillies - the Epsom Derby. In 1784 the course was extended to its current distance of a mile and a half and Tattenham Corner was introduced.

Henry Dorling, step-father to cookery writer Mrs Beeton, was a Clerk of the Course at Epsom, appointed in 1840.<ref name=ODNB-Beeton>Template:Cite encyclopedia</ref>

In 1913 the suffragette Emily Davison threw herself in front of King George V's horse Anmer, bringing him down. Davison was badly injured and died four days later.

In 1952 the racecourse was featured extensively in the film Derby Day set around the 1952 Epsom Derby.

In 2009 the racecourse opened the new Duchess's Stand. It has a capacity of 11,000 and has a 960m² (10 000 sq ft) hall. It can be used for banqueting, conferences and exhibitions. The estimated cost of the new stand, which was built by Willmott Dixon, was £23.5 million.

On 4 June 2011, in their first public outing since returning from their Seychelles honeymoon, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (along with The Queen, William's brother, Prince Harry, and Catherine's parents, Michael and Carole Middleton) attended the 2011 Epsom Derby at the track.

Description

The racecourse is between Epsom, Tadworth, and Langley Vale. As it is in a public area, people can watch the Derby free, and this meant that the Derby used to be the most attended sporting event of the year. It presents a stern challenge for inexperienced horses and a true test of stamina for those that might previously have contested the 2,000 Guineas Stakes over a mile (1600m).

Epsom Downs houses the third largest racehorse training facility in the country. The facility is managed by the Epsom trainers society. There are 11 trainers who use the facility, including Simon Dow and Laura Mongan (the only female trainer at Epsom).

The area is served by the Epsom Downs railway line as well as Tattenham Corner railway station which is where Queen Elizabeth II alights from the British Royal Train on race days.

Notable races

  • Diomed Stakes
  • Coronation Cup
  • The Oaks
  • Surrey Stakes
  • Woodcote Stakes
  • Princess Elizabeth Stakes
  • Epsom Dash
  • The Derby
  • Investec Derby Trial

References

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Bibliography

External links

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Template:Horse racing in Great Britain Template:Epsom and Ewell