Epsom Downs Racecourse

The Grandstand, Epsom Downs, Surrey, KT18 5LQ - Map & Directions
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Epsom Downs
Epsom Downs (Ian Capper / geograph.org.uk)

The first race at Epsom Downs was recorded in 1661 and the predominantly flat course was mentioned in the diary of Samuel Pepys. Similarly, Charles II was said to be a regular attender of races. Epsom houses the third largest racehorse training facility in the country and the course featured heavily in the 1952 film ‘Derby Day’. Epsom Downs is situated on the largest remaining public space south of London, and as it is a public area people can watch the Derby for free – a race that used to be the most attended sporting event of the year.

With an overall course capacity of 120,000, Epsom also opened a new Duchess’s stand in 2009, which holds 11,000 people and cost a total of £23.5 million to build. Just a few minutes down the road from Epsom town centre, Epsom Downs is extremely easy to get to by car, accessible by coming off Junction 9 of the M25.

During the racing season AA signs direct racegoers from the motorway to the course. If travelling by train, there are three stations all with very good access to the track. Epsom train station is just a ten-minute taxi or bus ride away, with a shuttle bus service available on Derby day. Epsom station is well served by services from London Waterloo and London Victoria. Alternatively, Tattenham Corner station is a half mile walk from the course, with Epsom Downs station slightly further away.

Ticket Prices

Grandstand ticket prices range from £16 to £28 for regular race days, whilst these prices are increased to between £45 and £99 for Derby day. Entry to the course enclosure on Derby day is priced between £18.75 and £37.50. As said, due to being a public space there are several free viewing areas, both inside and outside the course, for those on a budget but wanting to soak up some of the famous atmosphere.

The Course

Epsom Flat Racecourse Map

The grade 1 course at Epsom Downs is one of the best in the country, conveniently shaped like a horseshoe and measuring at 1m4f in circumference. The grandstand is positioned to the left of the open end of the horseshoe and the course is left-handed, and stiff and undulating in nature. Although the home straight at Epsom is 3½f in length, a chute opens up to allow a 5f straight course for shorter races. The straight course is probably the fastest in the world due to the steep downhill nature, however it slightly suits low drawn horses due to a minor elevation on the right hand side.

Horses at Epsom have to deal with the difficult undulations, with a rise of 105ft in the first 5f of the course alone. The second last turn goes into an incredibly steep downhill, with a 92ft decline spread out over 3½f making the final part of the course exceptionally fast paced, making tight races more exciting for the crowd.

Major Meetings at Epsom Downs

Epsom Downs on Derby Day
Epsom Downs on Derby Day (Malc McDonald / geograph.org.uk)

The biggest race every year at Epsom is without doubt the Epsom Derby. Scheduled to run each June, the Derby was first contested in 1780 and runs over a distance of 1m4f. Widely known as Britain’s richest race, the Derby is the most prestigious of the five ‘Classics’, and is the middle leg of the Triple Crown.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien has seen his horses win the previous three, becoming the first person to train three consecutive winners at the Derby (2012-2014). Two other famous races also run at Epsom every June are the Epsom Oaks and the Coronation Cup. The Oaks was established in 1779 and measures 1m4f, whilst the Coronation cup wasn’t run until 1902, and measures the same distance.

Dining and Hospitality

The Track at Epsom Downs
The Track at Epsom Downs (Marathon / geograph.org.uk)

Hospitality and private boxes at Epsom Downs are priced between £94.80 and £214.80, whilst the hospitality features and conference rooms are available to hire throughout the year on non-race days for business functions, private parties and weddings.


Swap Start/End

Grudge Matches