Epsom Downs Racecourse Guide and Tips

Epsom Downs is one of the oldest and most famous horse racing venues in the world.

Situated in the heart of Surrey, England, Epsom Downs racecourse stages flat racing during the spring and summer months. The most famous race to be staged at Epsom is undoubtedly the Epsom Derby, one of the five Classic races to take place in the UK.

Epsom Derby Festival Tips

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Epsom Downs Major Meetings

The main meeting of the season at Epsom is the Epsom Derby Festival, which usually takes place at the start of June. 

The Epsom Derby Festival is a two-day event, starting on the Friday and ending on the Saturday. The Coronation Cup and the Epsom Oaks headline the card on day one. Saturday is all about the Epsom Derby. Her Majesty, The Queen usually travels to Epsom on Derby day to hand out the famous trophy. 

Epsom stages a key trial for the Derby, the Blue Riband Trial during their April Meeting. Lucrative races like the Woodcote Stakes, Princess Elizabeth Stakes, Diomed Stakes and the Epsom Dash Handicap Sprint take place during the Epsom Derby Festival.

Epsom Track Characteristics

Epsom Downs is a left-handed, U-shaped track. The round course is only a mile-and-a-half long, meaning races staged over further than 12 furlongs cannot take place at Epsom. 

The round track at Epsom is unique. Many horses simply aren't well-balanced enough to cope with the rigours of this undulating circuit. If a horse likes Epsom, it will often win multiple races over its preferred course-and-distance.

From the 12 furlong start, runners must initially climb a steep hill, which descends as they round the tight bend. Most of the home straight is downhill, apart from the final half-furlong, which begins to climb again. There's also a pronounced camber down the home straight, with the track falling towards the inside rail. 

There's also a five-furlong chute leading onto the home straight at Epsom, which is used for sprint races. This is known as the fastest sprint course in the world, as runners are travelling downhill for 95% of the trip.

Epsom Draw Bias

On the round course at Epsom, it's better to be drawn high, as there is an early right-bending kink before the climb up the hill. Stall one at Epsom is known as the "coffin stall", as very few horses can win from such a low draw, especially over the Derby and Oaks trip.

The stalls are placed on the bend for six and seven-furlong races, so a low draw over those distances can be a big positive. On the sprint course, there is no specific draw bias, but it usually pays to be up with the early pace throughout. 

When the ground is soft, horses will veer away from the inside rail and come over to the stand's side, which would again favour horses drawn high.

Epsom Downs Leading Trainers

Charlie Appleby boasts an incredible recent record around Epsom, winning with over 40% of his runners at the track over the past five years.

Ralph Beckett boasts an impressive 23% strike rate around Epsom. It can also pay to follow runners from the stables of Andrew Balding, Mark Johnston and Jim Boyle.

Epsom Downs Leading Jockeys

Given Charlie Appleby's strike rate, it's no surprise to see William Buick heading the jockey standings over the last five years, winning with around 25% of his rides at Epsom.

Jason Watson and Silvestre De Sousa tend to do well around Epsom. Oisin Murphy and Andrea Atzeni have also tasted plenty of Epsom success.

Epsom Downs Track History

The first recorded horse race at Epsom took place back in 1661. By the 1730s, Epsom hosted race meetings throughout the calendar year.

The Epsom Oaks first took place in 1779, the year before the Epsom Derby, which was created in 1780. The other major Group One race staged at Epsom is the Coronation Cup, which was created in 1902 to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII.

Epsom can hold a capacity crowd of 130,000 spectators. In 2009, the racecourse opened the new Duchess's Stand, which can house 11,000 racegoers and cost over £20m to build.

Epsom Downs Racecourse Address

  • The Racecourse
  • Epsom Downs
  • Surrey
  • KT18 5LQ

Epsom Downs Racecourse Directions

By Road - The track is 2m south of Epsom Town Centre on the B290 Epsom Downs Road. Alternatively, just off Junction 9 of the M25.

By Rail - Epsom Station is connected by both South West Trains and Southern Trains. Tattenham Corner Station is approximately 1/2 mile walk from the racecourse. Epsom Downs Station is a further 1/2 mile away.

By Air - Heathrow Airport is approximately 27 miles from the racecourse, while Gatwick is approximately 19 miles away.

During The Epsom Derby Festival a shuttle bus service runs from Epsom train station to the racecourse.