Epsom, while rarely used, is one of the most important horse racing venues in Britain.
The traditional home of the third and fourth classics of the season, the Derby Festival here sees the Coronation Cup, The Oaks and The Derby all run at Group 1 level as well the famed Epsom Dash being run on the scary downhill five-furlong course.
Epsom Track Details
Epsom is a U-shaped, left-handed, notoriously undulating track in nature. The camber, bends and downhill runs are such that it has always been thought of as a track on which you need to keep a horse near the front. Never was that demonstrated better than when Serpentine was allowed to stride clear of the 2020 Derby field, never to come back.
Some, especially those watching from abroad and/or the younger horse racing generation, ask why Epsom and especially The Derby are so important.
Given that patience and good behaviour are required to get to the 1½-mile start, speed is needed to get into position at the first bend (which is right-handed), a high cruising speed is required to stay there, balance is to the fore round Tattenham Corner which is also when the speed increases and the stamina is at a premium to the finish, The Derby is the ultimate test of a three-year-old thoroughbred.
The trick when betting here, including in handicaps, is not to be fixated on the false adage that smaller horses have the required balance and the big ones don’t. With luck, you’ll see examples of horses having handled bends, downhill runs and tight turns well in enough in the form book.
While, contrary to some reports, a genuine stayer is needed to see out their designated trip in middle-distance events, the five-furlong sprint course is all down hill until just near the finish and so it really is all about speed for races such as the Dash.
Top Trainers and Jockeys on the Downs
Epsom’s unique switchback-style track can be hard to master. With that in mind, before betting in handicaps you should keep at the forefront of your head who traditionally does well there. The trainers with the best strike-rates, total wins and prize money are:
- Charlie Appleby
- Roger Varian
- Jim Boyle
- Mark Johnston
- Ralph Beckett
- Andrew Balding
- Aidan O’Brien
The better Epsom jockeys are:
- Silvestre De Sousa
- Jason Watson
- Oisin Murphy
- Andrea Atzeni
- Franny Norton
- Cieren Fallon
- Luke Morris
Major Handicaps at Epsom
Epsom is naturally famed for The Derby and The Oaks, but while the classic action here is the most important in terms of the breeding and wider horse racing industry, the Downs’ handicaps are huge betting affairs, especially the “Dash”.
|City and Suburban Handicap||Spring Meeting, April||Class 2||1 mile, 2 furlongs, 17 yards|
|Great Metropolitan Handicap||Spring Meeting, April||Class 3||1 mile, 4 furlongs, 6 yards|
|Investec Mile Handicap||Derby Festival, June||Class 2||1 mile, 113 yards|
|Investec Handicap||Derby Festival, June||Class 2||1 mile, 2 furlongs, 17 yards|
|Epsom Dash||Derby Festival, June||Class 2||5 furlongs|