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?
Nineteen people have been arrested in connection with plans to disrupt the Epsom Derby, Surrey Police has said.
Animal Rising had warned that protesters would attempt to disrupt the event, despite a High Court injunction.
The group tweeted that it would do “what’s necessary” to protect the horses and was prepared to “put their bodies on the line”.
Surrey Police had said it would not tolerate any risk to public safety and anyone who took part could be subject to contempt of court proceedings, fined or jailed.
Superintendent Michael Hodder said: “We have been clear in our approach that criminal activity will not be tolerated at the Epsom Derby Festival. As a result of intelligence, we have arrested 19 people who we believe were intent on illegally disrupting today’s events.
“Our officers will be at the event throughout the day to continue in keeping the public safe and preventing criminality.”
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
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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.”