The Derby Festival
The Derby festival comprises 2 days of top quality horseracing, including top races such as the Derby, the Oaks and the Coronation Cup. Held in the first week of June, this race can be a beautiful summer day out, but with the English weather, you can never be sure!
The Festival is named for the Derby, which is one of the 5 “Classics” of the Racing calendar in the UK, and deservedly so. It is one of the oldest horseraces, having first been run in 1780, and has the highest prize fund of any race in the UK at a whopping £1.25m! (In comparison, the Grand National had a prize fund of £925k this year).
The Derby Festival is held at the historic Epsom Downs Racecourse (itself even older than the Derby), which is located in Surrey to the South West of London. According to Epsom’s website, the name of the race was decided over a coin toss between the Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury – no prizes for guessing who won then! (It wasn’t Sir Charles).
The Derby is often seen as the focus of the meeting, but it is important to remember that the Oaks, which is held on the first day of the festival, is also one of the 5 Classics. This race is one year older than the Derby, but is restricted to fillies. Appropriately, Ladies Day at the festival is also on the same day that the Oaks is held :p
In total, there is approximately £2.3m in prize money up for grabs over the two day event! The Derby is also one of the “Crown Jewels” of UK sporting events – these are considered to be of national interest, and so the government has protected them from pay per view making it compulsory to broadcast the coverage on a free to air channel.