What's On This Week? - The World's Most Famous Flat Race

Features | 30th May 2023

The Betfred Derby, the world’s most famous Flat race, is the glittering highlight of this week’s racing

Pure Sporting History

The cream of the three-year-old colts will battle it out around Epsom’s iconic course aiming to follow in the hoofprints of some of racing’s greatest champions. The likes of Shergar, Nijnsky, Slip Anchor and Sea The Stars are all on the Derby roll of honour and this year’s contenders will be attempting to win one of the most coveted trophies in British sport. 

The result of the greatest Classic has also had a huge influence on the thoroughbred breed. Super stallion Galileo is one of the recent Derby winners to have gone on to be a massive success at stud. 

As you would imagine for such a famous race, the Derby has enjoyed a rich history. It has been captivating the nation ever since it was decided, at a party to celebrate the creation of a new horse race in 1779, that the contest would be named after the Earl Of Derby. It has been imitated by nearly every racing jurisdiction but the one that will be run at Epsom this Saturday is the original and still the one they all want to win.

Shergar winning the 1981 Derby

Can A Legend Go Out In Style?

This year, Frankie Dettori will ride in the Classic for the final time. He is likely to be on board impressive Chester Vase winner Arrest as the charismatic Italian’s farewell tour hits top gear with the former champ looking for his third Derby victory. 

Aidan O’Brien has won a few more. The Irish champion trainer will be aiming to add to his record eight Derby winners. His Auguste Rodin is on a recovery mission after trailing in much nearer last than first when a bitterly-disappointing favourite in the Qipco 20000 Guineas but the mile-and-a-half Derby distance is expected to suit this son of three-time Group 1-winning mare Rhododendron. 

Sir Michael Stoute, who won his sixth Derby last year with Desert Crown, has supplemented Passenger after his unlucky third behind fellow Derby contenders The Foxes and White Birch in the Dante Stakes at York. Throw in Lingfield Derby Trial hero Military Order and Jessica Harrington’s Irish raider Sprewell, and the greatest Classic is shaping up to be a fascinating race.

Dettori and Golden Horn winning the 2015 Derby

Epsom’s two-day fixture kicks off on Friday with a Group 1 double header. The Betfred Oaks, the fillies’ Classic, tops the bill and it looks equally as competitive as the Derby. Savethelastdance bolted up by a staggering 22 lengths in the Cheshire Oaks but she is likely to face stiff competition from John and Thady Gosden’s pair Soul Sister and Running Lion. 

The day’s other top-class race is the Dahlbury Coronation Cup, where last year’s unlucky Oaks runner-up Emily Upjohn, Irish Derby hero Westover and 2021 St Leger winner Hurricane Lane are all among the entries. 

It’s a busy week of racing action leading up to the Classic weekend but all eyes will be on Epsom for one of the racing highlights of the summer with history awaiting those that triumph in the Classics.