Often referred to as the Epsom Derby or the Derby Stakes, this prestigious race carries a staggering prize fund of £1.5 million, with a generous £850,650 awarded to the victorious horse and its connections. In the previous edition, the 5-2 favorite Desert Crown, trained by the illustrious Sir Michael Stoute and owned by Saeed Suhail, claimed the coveted title.
The Derby, regarded as the pinnacle of the Flat season, stands alongside the Oak, the 1,000 Guineas, the St Leger, and the 2,000 Guineas as one of English racing's esteemed Classics. Designed for three-year-old colts and fillies, the race covers a challenging distance of one mile, four furlongs, and 10 yards on the undulating terrain of Epsom Downs. With a pronounced slope towards the rails on the home straight, the course presents a unique and demanding test for the contenders.
Scheduled for Saturday, June 3, the Epsom Derby represents the main event of the festival's second day. Preceding it are two other prestigious Group 1 races, the Oaks and the Coronation Cup, held on Friday, June 2, which is celebrated as Ladies Day.
After the recent disturbances at the Grand National, where animal rights protesters caused disruption by attempting to glue themselves to fences, the Jockey Club has promised ‘robust’ security measures to ensure the safety and smooth running of this year's race.
Animal Rising, a protest group, plans to assemble up to 1,000 demonstrators who aim to lock and glue themselves to the perimeter fencing. However, it has been assured that they will not attempt to breach the course during the race, acknowledging the potential risks it poses to their own lives as well as jockeys and horses.
Nevin Truesdale, the chief executive of the Jockey Club, expressed their commitment to maintaining security while respecting the rights of peaceful and lawful protests. Truesdale strongly condemned any illegal and reckless attempts to disrupt the race and jeopardize the safety of participants.
In a bid to promote inclusivity, the organizers have also unveiled an LGBTQIA+ area at the event, featuring drag performances and free queer literature. While the Jockey Club hopes this initiative will foster a more diverse audience for horse racing, some skeptics view it as a mere PR stunt unlikely to have a significant impact on opening up the sport.
The race itself is set to commence at 1:30 pm, slightly earlier than usual due to the scheduling of the FA Cup final on the same day. From an initial entry pool of up to 400 horses, no more than 20 thoroughbreds will take to the starting line on June 3. The field was gradually narrowed down as participants registered and paid fees during the preceding months.
A final fee payment was made on May 29 by those wishing to continue in the race, with a potential opportunity for late entries through the Supplementary Entry fee. If the number of horses exceeds 20, the lowest-rated contenders will be excluded, and the final field will be officially declared on Thursday, June 1.
Royal Horse Featuring
While the royal colors will not be represented in this year's race, with Slipofthepen, Desert Hero, and Circle of Fire having dropped out, history reminds us that the last horse to win for a reigning monarch was Edward VII's Minoru in 1909.
Most Successful Derby Trainers
Among the current trainers, Aidan O'Brien stands as the most successful, having secured victory in the Derby a remarkable eight times.
His formidable record includes triumphs with Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Camelot (2012), Ruler of the World (2013), Australia (2014), Wings of Eagles (2017), Anthony Van Dyck (2019), and Serpentine (2020).
Epsom Derby Odds
As the anticipation builds, the latest odds offer some insights into the contenders for this year's Epsom Derby. Military Order is currently priced at 10/2, followed closely by Auguste Rodin at 7/2. Passenger holds steady odds of 5/1, while Arrest and The Foxes stand at 11/2 and 10/1, respectively. Sprewell rounds off the list at 11/1.
The Epsom Derby promises to be a thrilling spectacle, showcasing the finest three-year-old colts and fillies in a demanding test of skill, stamina, and strategy. As the horses line up at the starting gate, the hopes and dreams of trainers, owners, and racing enthusiasts will converge, waiting to witness history in the making on this hallowed turf.
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