What makes the Derby so special? Why is big Epsom race so important for punters and racing world alike?

THE days of 125,000 punters cramming onto the Downs may be over.

But the Derby is still the biggest and best show on turf, and here's why you should tune in come 4.30pm on Saturday.


The Epsom test

Most of the Epsom contenders are relatively early into their racing careers, but the Derby can make or break it in an instant.

It will be the first time the majority of the field have run over a mile-and-a-half. And with the race always run at a breakneck gallop, you need to have plenty of petrol, your stamina will be tested.

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Add in to the mix to unique undulations of Epsom and you can see why it is so hard to win.

The horses climb 40 metres out of the stalls and up the Downs, before looping around the almost hairpin Tattenham Corner bend and into the famous straight.

There awaits half-a-mile of turf that slopes violently to the far side. For these three-year-olds, there's simply is nothing like it.

The money

Despite prize-money being cut since the COVID pandemic tightened the purse strings, this year's Cazoo Derby is worth a whopping £1.25 million.

The winner gets close to £640,000 while the Oaks champion pockets £225,000.

But the real money comes later in life, with the Derby winner always likely to rake it in at stud. Take the 2001 winner Galileo.

Now the best stallion around, his owners collect roughly £500,000 a visit. You don't need to be a genius to work out he's made plenty of people rich.

He's also now the proud dad of five Derby winners himself. Not bad work if you can get it.

The star names

Frankie Dettori, Ryan Moore and Will Buick are all in town – just about.

Some last minute jockey merry-go-round meant Dettori got the call-up on leading English hope John Leeper. Moore rides favourite Bolshoi Ballet and Buick leads the Godolphin charge on Hurricane Lane.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien is the one they all have to beat. He has eight of the Classics to his name already, six of those coming since 2012.

And all of racing's powerhouse owners will be on show. The royal blue of Godolphin and Sheikh Mohammed. Ballydoyle's famous silks, Sheikh Obaid's blue and yellow colours and the late Sheikh Hamdan's blue and white.

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The capacity crowds

Last year Epsom was a ghost town, this year 4,000 punters will attempt to bring the place to life.

One of the most iconic days in the sporting calendar usually comes with a carnival atmosphere with punters surrounding the track on all sides.

Tickets sell like hot cakes and all walks of life descend on the Downs, from royalty to cockney punters pouring out of the east-end.

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Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chase their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare – www.gamcare.org.uk
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