Epsom Racecourse History

The earliest evidence of racing on the famous Epsom Downs was on 7th March 1661 at a meeting attended by King Charles II, which Samuel Pepys later confirmed in his diaries. The London Flying Post reported a three day meeting taking place from Thursday 27th to Saturday 29th November 1701 when the main contests were a £20 Plate and a Galloway Plate. By 1711 meetings were staged at nearby Banstead with races run over 4 miles, after which the horses were then rubbed down at the Rubbing House. Today a similarly named pub commemorates this process. The Oaks, the fillies Classic, took place on Epsom Downs on 14th May 1779 when won by the Lord Derby owned Bridget. A year later the first Derby Stakes was won by Sir Charles Bunbury’s Diomed, ridden by S. Arnull on 4th May 1780. Every Derby result is accessible using the links below. At Epsom 47 years later, in 1827 William Dorling produced the first racecard complete with runners, riders, betting forecast and colours. On Wednesday 3rd June 1840 Dorling produced a very special silk racecard for Queen Victoria who attended the Derby, witnessing Little Wonder win for owner Mr D Robertson. She never attended the Derby again, famously claiming it was because she was not served bread and butter with her meal. In 1872 the Derby was run on the present day course for the first time and resulted in a triumph for Mr Savile's Cremorne, ridden by Maidment and trained by Gilbert. In 1896 Persimmon provided a Royal victory in the Derby, winning for the Prince of Wales; he won it for a second time with Diamond Jubilee in 1900, and completed the treble in 1907 as King Edward VII, when H.Jones rode Minoru to win the Derby. One of the most famous and controversial events in Epsom’s history occurred in 1913 when Emily Davison was killed as she ran out in front of the Kings horse. Epsom was used for the war effort between 1915 and 1918, causing the Derby to be transferred to Newmarket. Between 1940 and 1945 the same situation occurred again when the Derby was staged at Newmarket for 6 years. The Willie Carson ridden Troy won the 200th Derby in 1979 when trained by Major Dick Hern. The future of Epsom was secured in 1984 after it was purchased with the help of Lord Wigg. Currently the course offers 10 fixtues annually.

Epsom Oaks 1779
Wednesday 14th May 1779

1. Bridget, filly owned by Lord Derby
2. Fame, bay filly owned by Mr Vernon
Also Unnamed filly by Eclipse owned by Sir J Shelley
Unnamed brown filly by Metaphysician owned by Sir J Lade
Unnamed filly by Otho owned by Lord Egremont

Epsom continues to thrive today, whereas nearby Hampton closed its gates for the final time in 1887.

Hampton races began in 1814 and were situated at Molesey Hurst, then in Middlesex. The inaugural two day meeting took place on Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th July 1814, opening with the Clarence Cup which was won by Mr Ball’s Emily. The racecourse was a flat, oval course with a circumference of 12 furlongs, and there was a sprint course of 4 furlongs joining the main course, which was used for longer races on the Surrey, Middlesex and Queens Plate courses. Races were held regularly twice a year, with the mid-Summer meeting dubbed the Cockney Derby. In the Sporting Magazine of 1846 their view of Hampton Races was, “Nobody ever dreams of going to Moulsey Hurst with a view to good racing”. Hampton racecourse closed on Wednesday 15th June 1887 and was replaced by the more permanent course at Hurst Park which opened on 19th March 1890.

Tuesday 26th July 1814
The Clarence Cup over 2 ¼ miles
1. Emily, bay filly owned by Mr Ball
2. Trial, bay gelding owned by Mr White
3. Fanny, bay mare owned by Mr Barrondale

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the map shown below.

An incredibly rare racecard from the 1847 Derby at Epsom

derby 1847a.JPG (67723 bytes)

1847 Epsom Derby
Wednesday 19th May 1847

1. Cossack, owned by Mr T Pedley and ridden by S Templeman
2. War Eagle, owned by Mr Bouverie and ridden by W Boyce
3. Van Tromp, owned by Lord Eglinton and ridden by J Marson

This page provides the opportunity to research every Epsom Derby since its inception. Just click on the date of the year you require.
1780 1781 1782 1783 1784
1785 1786 1787 1788 1789
1790 1791 1792 1793 1794
1951 Ladies 1952 Gents 1953 Ladies 1953 Gents 1953 Derby Day
1795 1796 1797 1798 1799
1800 1801 1802 1803 1804
1805 1806 1807 1808 1809
1954 Gents 1955 Gents 1956 Ladies 1957 Gents 1958 Gents

'Saddling' is by John Frederick Herring Snr 1876 and was reproduced in a set of 4 prints by Martell Cognac Co to celebrate the Derby. It is shown courtesy of Brenda Rooney from her print collection.

1810 1811 1812 1813 1814
1815 1816 1817 1818 1819
1820 1821 1822 1823 1824
1958 Ladies 1959 Gents 1959 Ladies 1960 Gents 1961 Ladies
1825 1826 1827 1828 1829
1830 1831 1832 1833 1834
1835 1836 1837 1838 1839
Epsom 1962z.JPG (22505 bytes)
1961 Gents 1962 adies 1962 Gents 1963 Ladies 1964 Gents
1840 1841 1842 1843 1844
1845 1846 1847 1848 1849
1850 1851 1852 1853 1854

The Oaks is by John Frederick Herring Snr 1876 and was reproduced in a set of 4 prints by Martell Cognac Co to celebrate the great fillies classic. It is shown courtesy of Brenda Rooney from her print collection.

1965 Gents 1966 Gents 1967 Gents 1968 Gents 1969 Gents
1855 1856 1857 1858 1859
1860 1861 1862 1863 1864
1865 1866 1867 1868 1869
1970 Gents 1971 Gents 1972 Gents 1973 Gents 1973 Ladies
1870 1871 1872 1873 1874
1875 1876 1877 1878 1879
1880 1881 1882 1883 1884
1974 Ladies 1974 Gents 1975 Ladies 1975 Gents 1976 Ladies
1885 1886 1887 1888 1889
1890 1891 1892 1893 1894
1895 1896 1897 1898 1899
1976 Gents 1977 Ladies 1977 Gents 1978 Ladies 1978 Gents
1900 1901 1902 1903 1904
1905 1906 1907 1908 1909
1910 1911 1912 1913 1914
1979 Gents 1980 Gents 1981 Gents 1982 Ladies 1982 Gents
1915 1916 1917 1918 1919
1920 1921 1922 1923 1924
1925 1926 1927 1928 1929
1983 Gents 1984 Gents 1985 Gents 1986 Gents 1987 Gents
1930 1931 1932 1933 1934
1935 1936 1937 1938 1939
1940 1941 1942 1943 1944
1988 Gents 1989 Gents 1990 Gents 1991 Gents 1991 Junior
1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
Epsom 1993ss.JPG (38358 bytes)
1992 Gents 1992 Classic Club 1993 Queen's Stand 1994 Queen's Stand 1995 Queen's Stand
1960 1961 1962 1963 1964
1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
1970 1971 1972 1973 1974
1996 Queen's Stand 1997 Queen's Stand 1997 Derby 1997 Classic Club 1998 Queen's Stand
1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984
1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1998 Classic Club 1998 Moet & Chandon 1998 Derby 1999 Queen's Stand 1999 Derby
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Epsom 2002m.JPG (35753 bytes)
2000 Gents 2001 Junior 2001 Gents 2002 Gents 2002 Derby
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
2010  2011   2012  2013  2014
2015   2016      

The rare handbill shown below is provided courtesy of the Robert Shaw collection.

2003 Gents 2004 Gents
2004 Derby 2005 Gents
2005 Derby 2006 Derby
2006 Gents 2007 Gents
2008 Derby 2009 Gents 2010 Gents 2011 Gents 2013 Gents
       
2014 Gents        

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

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