Situated in the heart of Epsom Downs, the Epsom Downs Racecourse is often referred to as the cradle of British horse racing. This world-class horse racing facility is surrounded by breathtaking scenery and is one of the most famous race courses in the world. It is also one of the most testing trips in flat horse racing, with the horseshoe shaped Derby course of a mile and a half being run in a left-handed direction.
The course is sharp and has some undulations. A right-handed rise of approximately a hundred and forty feet begins soon after the race commences. After about three furlongs to the top of the hill, the field descends and enters the finishing straight of about three and a half furlongs. The final bend into the home straight, known as Tattenham Corner, is notoriously tight.
Although first race at the Downs was held in 1661, formal horse racing started here in 1779, when one of today's greatest sporting events was established. The 12th Earl of Derby organized an event for his friends to race their three-year-old fillies over one and a half miles. 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. This was the origin of the Epsom Derby, run here since 1780. The track was over a mile with the starting point in a straight line beyond the current five-furlong marker. The Tattenham Corner was introduced in 1784, when the course was extended to its current distance of a mile and a half. Today the Epsom Downs racecourse offers exciting horse racing and entertainment from April to October.
The highlight of the season is of course the Derby, traditionally held over the first weekend in June. It is a combination of fun, fashion and exciting racing.
The Epsom Downs Racecourse has four enclosures to watch the thrills unfold. The Queens Stand is situated along the straight run and winning post, offering impressive views of the racecourse along with excellent facilities. The Blue Riband Restaurant and other bars and catering outlets provide nourishment for the body while the action on the course thrills the heart. The current Club Enclosure is incorporated in the Grandstand enclosure and offers members special facilities. It is possible to book in advance for exclusive reserved seats complete with bar, snack and TOTE facilities to make it a memorable day at the races. One has access to the grandstand terracing with its excellent views of racing, as well as the downs, parade ring and winners enclosure. There are a variety of bars and catering outlets selling hot food and snacks along with your beverage of choice. The Coach Enclosure and the informal Hill provide fun and entertainment in a laid-back casual setting.