The Derby is a race for three-year-old colts and fillies, run over one mile, four furlongs and 10 yards on Epsom Downs, a particularly undulating course with a pronounced slope towards the rails on the home straight.
The pinnacle of the Flat season, the Derby is one of English racing’s five Classics. The others are the Oak, which takes place at Epsom the day before, the 1,000 Guineas, the St Leger, and the 2,000 Guineas.
Britain’s richest Flat horse race has been staged since 1780 and this year is the culmination of a two-day festival at Epsom Downs Racecourse and will attract a crowd of about 130,000. The Derby has been run annually for 243 years but was moved to Newmarket from 1915-18 and 1940-45.
The Derby, also known as the Epsom Derby or the Derby Stakes is worth £1.5 million, £850,650 of which goes to the winner.
What date is the Epsom Derby?
The Derby takes place today, on the second day of the Festival. Two further Group 1 races, the Oaks and the Coronation Cup, will be staged today, Ladies Day.
What time does the race start?
The starter should send them off at 1.30pm this afternoon, earlier than normal because of the scheduling of the FA Cup final for the same day.
What TV channel is it on?
The race will be broadcast live on ITV1 as part of their comprehensive coverage of Ladies Day and Derby Day from Epsom, presented by Ed Chamberlin. It will also be streamed on ITV+.
What’s the latest on potential protests?
By Will Bolton
The Derby will have the biggest security operation in the event’s history amid fears protesters will attempt to disrupt the race.
The Jockey Club, which owns the racecourse, has been granted a High Court injunction against Animal Rising, because the animal rights activists have made it clear that they intend to breach security. The exact security measures put in place have not been confirmed but the club are believed to have spent an additional £150,000 safeguarding the race.
Nevin Truesdale, the Jockey Club chief executive, said: “While it’s extremely challenging to secure a site like Epsom Downs, Surrey Police have been and continue to be incredibly helpful and we will have a security operation in place at The Derby Festival this weekend like no other we have seen in the past.”
He said the sport “has never been safer” for horses, adding: “We love these equine athletes, these superstars who get fantastic care behind the scenes.
During a debate on Sky News on Thursday morning, Animal Rising spokeswoman Claudia Penna Rojas was asked if she is prepared to break the law. She replied: “I’m prepared to do what’s necessary to do what’s right by these animals and try and prevent them from being harmed.”
The Jockey Club officials fear the protest will endanger participants, racegoers and horses – although they said they do not dismiss the right to peaceful protest and have offered Animal Rising an area near the racecourse’s entrance to demonstrate.
The injunction granted by High Court judge Sir Anthony Mann bans people from going on to the racetrack and carrying out other acts with the intention and/or effect of disrupting the races.
Such acts include intentionally causing objects to enter the racetrack, entering the parade ring, entering and/or remaining on the horses’ route to the parade ring and to the racetrack without authorisation and intentionally endangering any person at Epsom Downs racecourse during the two-day Derby Festival.
Those breaching the court order may be subject to contempt of court proceedings and fined or jailed.
Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: “The injunction sought by the Jockey Club could be game changing if it demonstrates that carrying out these acts of unlawful disruption will no longer be tolerated and those who put themselves, and others, in danger will face serious criminal sanctions.”
A spokesperson for Surrey Police said that its officers were “well-trained in responding to protests” and would be on hand throughout the day.
It comes after disruption at the Grand National at Aintree in April when the race was delayed by just over 10 minutes after demonstrators made their way on to the track and had to be removed by police. 118 protesters were arrested.
How big is the field?
For a guide to the field, see our list of the runners and riders.
Will the King and Queen have any horses in the race?
There had been three horses under royal colours among the entries – Slipofthepen, Desert Hero and Circle of Fire – but they have since dropped out. The last horse to win for a reigning monarch was Edward VII’s Minoru in 1909.
Who is the most successful current trainer?
Aidan O’Brien is the most successful trainer in the 242 years of Derbys, winning eight times, with Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Camelot (2012), Ruler of the World (2013), Australia (2014), Wings of Eagles (2017), Anthony Van Dyck (2019) and Serpentine (2020).
O’Brien has three horses in this year’s race: Adelaide River, Auguste Rodin and San Antonio.
Which horse won last year?
The reigning champion is Desert Crown, trained by Sir Michael Stoute and owned by Saeed Suhail, who went off as the 5-2 favourite. Desert Crown is not racing this year.
What are the latest odds?
Auguste Rodin 5/2
Military Order 9/2
White Birch 12/1
The Foxes 12/1
Having a bet on the race? Find the best Epsom Derby betting offers
The jockey running marathons to keep his weight down
By Marcus Armytage
Last year was something of a breakthrough year for Daniel Muscutt; his first century-plus (125) of winners and the full set of Patterns wins including a Group One (Criterium) on Dubai Mile. On Saturday, the same colt gives the Zimbabwean-born jockey a good shot at winning the Betfred Derby at his first attempt.
Along with Irishmen Shane Foley, Colin Keane and Kevin Stott, the jockey is one of four making their debut in this year’s race.
At 27, success is coming to Muscutt slightly later in life than some. Overnight it has not been but the combination of natural talent, hands like silk and elbow grease is now reaping due reward and he has kept improving to the point where he has become one of the go-to jockeys in Newmarket.
At 5ft 11in, which might have been considered something of a barrier to the job in the old days (it’s almost normal now) he is tall but he has stabilised his weight with long-distance running – he clocked 3 hrs 10 mins in his only full marathon so far, and is a regular in half-marathons – and the help of a nutritionist from Liverpool John Moores University.
“I still work hard at it and with trial and error I know what works,” he says about maintaining his weight to ride at 8st 11lbs. “But if that’s under control it is one less thing to worry about. Originally I started long distance running to get back in shape after an injury as well as keep on the right side of the scales. It developed into a bit of a bug. I’ve only done one full marathon in Valencia but I’m pretty sure I could do under 3 hours for a marathon if I trained properly for it!”
Back in Zimbabwe where he was born, the name Muscutt is a byword for success. His grandfather, Brian, who was evacuated from Coventry to the then Rhodesia during the War, was a leading jockey there and in South Africa. His uncle Peter likewise. His father trained there.
But ever since he, his mother Rona and sister Emma returned to Britain when he was aged five, racing was never off the agenda. He joined Andrew Balding apprentice academy after school, in 2016 he moved to James Fanshawe and, though the trainer remains one of his biggest fans, Muscutt started spreading his wings in Newmarket and in 2022 that began to pay dividends.
Last year he picked up the ride on Dubai Mile for Mark and Charlie Johnston when the horse came south to Windsor for his second start. He won snugly and the Johnstons have kept the partnership intact ever since. On their second outing together they became Mark Johnston’s 5000th winner.
“Each race he’s taken a step forward,” says Muscutt. “He’s done pretty much everything we’ve asked. He was beaten a small margin by The Foxes in the Royal Lodge. There was no real excuse but he bowled away in front and he loves a tussle so I could have done with someone challenging me earlier that day. He handled the lively ground and the Dip at Newmarket - he’s balanced, he should handle Epsom. He ticks a lot of the boxes.”
Next time out he won the Criterium de Saint-Cloud in the heavy beating Arrest, who he meets again in the Derby, by a head. “That was over a mile and a quarter but took a bit of getting so it gives us every hope he’ll stay a mile and a half at Epsom,” says the jockey about the Roaring Lion colt.
This season he returned in the 2,000 Guineas and ran a stormer to finish fifth. He is the sole Derby runner which can boast serious Group One form this season. “We were really pleased at Newmarket,” says Muscutt. “He hit the gates and attacked. As expected over a mile he was off the bridle early enough but he saw it out very strongly and galloped through the line.”
The Derby remains the pinnacle for any jockey and Muscutt is delighted to have a good chance in a open race. “Winning it would be very satisfying,” he says. “It’s the race all jockeys want to win when they start out. Epsom’s not the easiest of places but we all know what it’s all about. You’ve got to have the right horse – and we’re hoping we have.”