The English Derby is one of the most famous horse races in the world. The first derby was held in 1780 and was a 2-mile race for three-year-old colts. Today, it's a mile and a half race run on Epsom Downs, in Surrey, England.
The English Derby is now one of the most important fixtures in the British racing calendar. Thoroughbreds from all over the world are brought to Epsom Downs to compete for this prestigious title that has been won by some of the best horses ever bred.
What you might not know about this famous event is that it wasn't always for horses. It started as a competition for people on foot. This may seem strange because we're used to seeing people on horseback, but back then, horses were expensive and difficult to maintain, so people rode donkeys instead.
The Derby and The 5 Classics
The English Derby is often called "The Blue Riband of the
Turf," and it's one of the most famous horse races in the world. It's a
test of stamina, speed, and strength.
In England, there are five horse races that are considered to be
Classics: The Derby, The Oaks, The St. Leger Stakes, The 1,000 Guineas Stakes
and The Epsom Oaks. In France, there are four: the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe,
the Prix du Jockey Club (the French Derby), the Grand Prix de Paris and the
In Ireland and Italy there are three: The Irish Derby (Irish
Oaks), Irish 1,000 Guineas (British 1000 Guineas) and Irish 2,000 Guineas
(British 2000 Guineas).
The Epsom Oaks is one of these five great races but it also has
an international reach because it's open for three-year-old fillies from
anywhere in the world to take part.
How the race has evolved over time
The first English Derby was in 1780, and it was the 2-mile long race for three-year-old colts. Nowadays, the Derby is a mile and a half race, which is run on Epsom Downs in Surrey.
Although the race originally started as a competition for people on foot, it eventually evolved to be a horse race. Horses were difficult to maintain and expensive, so people rode donkeys instead.
In 1839, the English Derby was changed to one mile, but then it was increased back to 1.5 miles in 1890. The reasons for this change are not entirely clear but some speculate that it was done to make sure the horses had enough energy left after the exhausting journey from Newmarket to Epsom Downs.
The most famous horses to ever win the derby
The most famous horses to ever win the derby are probably Frankel and Sea-Bird. Frankel was a champion racehorse who won the English Derby in 2011 and 2012. He's the only horse to have ever won the English Triple Crown, which is a feat that hasn't been accomplished since 1978. Sea-Bird was a champion racehorse as well, winning The Derby in 1964.
The type of people you might see at the derby
There are some famous people you might see on Epsom Downs at the English Derby. The Queen is often in attendance, and international stars like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Nicole Kidman have all been spotted attending.
You'll also find the rich and famous rubbing shoulders with the
everyday racing enthusiast. There's always a diverse crowd of people from all
walks of life who come to watch this prestigious event.
What Horses Run in The English Derby?
The horses that are allowed to race in the English Derby are Thoroughbreds. A Thoroughbred is a very specific type of horse which has been bred for racing, purebred and registered with the Jockey Club.
Once your horse is registered, it becomes eligible for all of the most famous races including The English Derby.
A Thoroughbred will be at its best when it's just 3 years old because that's when they're physically mature enough to participate in a race as long as 1 mile and a half. This means that the first derby was most likely run by colts, or young male horses, who were three years old.
The more expensive and higher-quality Thoroughbreds will be able to compete well over 2 miles because they're stronger and more experienced when they get older.
Dancing Brave was one of the most famous horses to ever win the English Derby. He won in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991. He had a long career, running from September 1983 until November 1994 when he retired with a total of 16 straight wins.
It's hard to say what Dancing Brave's best race was because he was so consistent as a winner. One thing that stands out about him is that he won his last 9 races in a row, which has never been done before or since. But if you had to pick just one race for Dancing Brave, it would be the English Derby of 1988 when he beat the favorite, Slip Anchor by half a length at odds of 100-30.