The Derby Stakes, known as The Investec Derby or The Derby and internationally as the Epsom Derby, is a Group 1 flat horse race in Great Britain which is open to three-year-old Thoroughbred colts and fillies. It is run at Epsom Downs over a distance of 1 mile, 4 furlongs and 10 yards (2,423 metres), and it is scheduled to take place each year in early June. It is Britain's richest horse race, and the most prestigious of the country's five Classics. It is sometimes referred to as the Blue Riband of the turf.
The Epsom Derby is one of the most prestigious and iconic events of the sporting and social calendars. The Ladies day is known for being a highly fashionable event, where ladies compete to win the coveted Style on the Downs competition. Elaborate headwear and colourful dresses are the norm.
The Derby originated at a celebration following the first running of the Oaks Stakes in 1779. A new race was planned, and it was decided that it should be named after either the host of the party, the 12th Earl of Derby, or one of his guests, Sir Charles Bunbury. According to legend the decision was made by the toss of a coin, but it is probable that Bunbury, the Steward of the Jockey Club, deferred to his host. The inaugural running of the Derby was held on 4 May 1780. It was won by Diomed, a colt owned by Sir Charles Bunbury, who collected prize money of £1,065 15s. The first four runnings were contested over 1 mile, but this was amended to the current distance of 1½ miles in 1784. Lord Derby achieved his first success in the event in 1787, with a horse called Sir Peter Teazle.
The starting point of the race was moved twice during the 19th century. The first move, suggested by Lord George Bentinck, was in 1848, and the second was in 1872. It was discovered in 1991 that the exact length of the race was 1 mile, 4 furlongs and 10 yards.
The Derby has inspired many similar events around the world. National variations include the Prix du Jockey Club, the Irish Derby, the Deutsches Derby, the Derby Italiano and in Australia, the AJC Australian Derby, Queensland Derby, South Australian Derby, the VRC Victoria Derby and WATC Derby. The New Zealand Derby contested at Ellerslie Racecourse, Auckland is the richest Derby in the Southern Hemisphere. Several races in the United States bear the "Derby" name, the most famous of which is the Kentucky Derby
- Fastest winning time (at Epsom) – 2m 31.33s, Workforce (2010)
- Widest winning margin – 10 lengths, Shergar (1981)
- Longest odds winners – Jeddah (1898), Signorinetta (1908), Aboyeur (1913), 100/1
- Shortest odds winner – Ladas (1894), 2/9
|Epsom Derby, 1927|
- Most runners – 34 (1862)
- Fewest runners – 4 (1794
- 1838 Derby winner1805 – One of the horses was brought down by a spectator.
- 1825 – Middleton didn't start before or after winning the Derby.
- 1838 – Amato never raced before or after winning the Derby.
- 1844 – The original winner Running Rein was disqualified as he was actually an ineligible four-year-old horse named Maccabeus.
- 1881 – Iroquois became the first American-bred to win a leg of the British triple crown.
- 1884 – The race finished with a dead-heat between Harvester and St. Gatien.
- 1887 – Merry Hampton is the most recent horse to win the Derby with no previous victories.
- 1894 – The winner was owned by the Prime Minister at the time, the 5th Earl of Rosebery.
- 1901 – The first year in which a mechanical starting gate was used.
- 1909 – Minoru was the first Derby winner owned by a reigning monarch, King Edward VII, who had previously won twice as Prince of Wales.
- 1913 – The 6/4 favourite Craganour, owned by Charles B. Ismay, brother of J. Bruce Ismay of the Titanic, was controversially disqualified, and the race was awarded to the 100/1 outsider Aboyeur. Suffragette Emily Davison is struck by King George V's horse, Anmer, she dies three days later.
- 1916 – Fifinella, who also won the Oaks, is the most recent of six fillies to win the race. The previous five were Eleanor (1801), Blink Bonny (1857), Shotover (1882), Signorinetta (1908), Tagalie (1912).
|Persimmon, Derby winner in 1896|
- 1921 – The winner Humorist died two weeks after the race.
- 1927 – The first Derby to be broadcast by the BBC.
- 1932 – April the Fifth is the most recent winner trained at Epsom.
- 1946 – Airborne is the most recent of 4 grey horses to win the Derby.
- 1953 – Pinza was the first winner in the race for the jockey Sir Gordon Richards, after 27 unsuccessful attempts.
- 1960 - Although there had been an experimental TV transmission of the race in the early 1930s, regular television coverage of the Derby began this year, initially on both BBC and ITV.
- 1989 – The runner-up Terimon is the longest-priced horse to finish placed in the Derby, at odds of 500/1.
- 1996 – Alex Greaves became the first (and so far only) lady jockey to ride in the race. She finished last on the filly Portuguese Lil.