Everything You Need to Know About Epsom Oaks

First run in 1779, the Epsom Oaks takes place just before the Derby during either the last week of May or first week of June. This race is the second English Classic established two centuries ago after the St Leger. Like the 1000 Guineas, only female, 3-year-old thoroughbreds can participate. The Epsom Oaks, combined with the 1000 Guineas and St Leger Stakes, forms the unofficial 'Fillies Triple Crown.'

A Closer Look at the
Race

The Epsom Oaks is run on the same Epsom Downs racetrack as the Derby. The turf track is left-handed, and the thoroughbreds race 1 mile, 4 furlongs and 10 yards to the finish line. Unlike the Derby, only qualifying Group 1 fillies may participate in this centuries-old English Classic flat race. Each filly is required to carry 9-0 stones/126 pounds.

fact file

location: Epsom Downs, Surrey

grade: Fillies" Group 1

race type: Flat horse race on turf

Historic Victories on the Epsom Downs Track

Both the Epsom Oaks and the Epsom Derby are the product of a 1778 social gathering. The Earl of Derby (Edward Stanley) and Sir Charles Bunbury agreed to hold a fillies' only race named for an estate held by the Earl.

The very first Epsom Oaks was won by the Earl's filly Bridget in 1779. Delighted with its success, the two gentlemen agreed to hold a similar event the following year for both colts and fillies naming it the 'Derby' as a result of a coin toss.

Over 200 years later, both events are still going strong. While perhaps less prestigious than the Derby, the Epsom Oaks is a time-honoured tradition and plays a vital role in the Fillies Triple Crown. Always held on the Friday before Derby Saturday, this race always plays a central role in the Derby Festival.

The purse for the 2017 race amounted to a half million having steadily grown over the past decade. In just this brief period of time, the purse increased from £375,000 to £500,000. While this is less than half of the Derby purse, it is still an impressive prize. Listed below are the winning fillies, jockeys, trainers and winnings since 2007.

Records

Throughout the past two centuries, these top fillies have set records for the Epsom Oaks putting them a step above other quality champions (as of 2017).

  • The filly with the fastest record time of 2 minutes and 34.13 seconds is the most recent Epsom Oaks winner, Enable, ridden by Frankie Dettori and trained by John Gosden.

  • The most successful trainer is Robert Robson who trained 14 winners from Scotia (1802) to Wings (1825).

  • In more modern times, trainer Henry Cecil has dominated the race claiming 8 wins from 1985 to 2007. Trainer Aiden O'Brien is steadily catching up with 6 wins from 1998 to 2016.

  • The filly that won by the widest margin of twelve lengths was Sun Princess in 1983.

  • The most successful jockey in the history of the race was Frank Buckle with 9 victories from 1797 to 1823.

Best Moments

Some of the most exciting moments have left a lasting mark on the history of the Epsom Oaks. Particularly, those rare fillies that take more than one English Classic in a single season! (as of 2017).

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  • Signorinetta is one of the most memorable fillies to compete in this race winning both the Epsom Oaks and Derby in 1908. She is only one of a handful of fillies to do so claiming victory in the Oaks by several lengths, then beating the Derby against the steepest odds in its history of 100 to 1.

  • Other fillies that have beaten both races since 1779 include: Eleanor (1801), Blink Bonny (1857), and Fifinella (1916).

  • Fillies that have won the unofficial Fillies Triple Crown consisting of the 1000 Guineas, Epsom Oaks and St Leger include: Formosa (1868), Hannah (1871), Apology (1874), La Fleche (1892), Sceptre (1902), Pretty Polly (1904), Sun Chariot (1942), Meld (1955), and Oh So Sharp (1985).