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Epsom Derby Festival 2021

Friday June 4th - Saturday June 5th

The countdown is on to one of the most famous horse races in the world, the Epsom Derby. This is a Classic steeped in sporting folklore, with a star-studded history dating back to 1780. Epsom Derby day, on June 5th, is one of the highlights of the British summer, when another name will join the illustrious roll of honour.

There are few sights as thrilling as the field careering down the hill to Tattenham Corner before a long battle for glory up the Epsom straight. The Epsom Derby Festival begins on June 4th, where the highlight is the second fillies’ Classic of the season, the Oaks. This is a race with an even longer history than the Derby; it was first run in 1779, and some of the greatest fillies in the sport have triumphed here.

Aidan O’Brien, the Irish trainer whose horses have dominated the Epsom Classics in recent years, holds a very strong hand in both races in 2021. Will he add another chapter to his glittering history in the Epsom Derby and the Oaks? Or will there be a surprise winner or two at longer odds to deny O’Brien? All eyes will be on Epsom to find out.

View Epsom Derby Runners
Martin Booth
By Martin Booth  
Updated: 20 May 2021 10:00 am


Distance: 1m 4f 6y (2,420 m)

Max Runners: 20

Prize money: £638,000



So who will be the winner of the Epsom Derby 2021? As ever, several owners, trainers and jockeys will travel to Surrey believing they have a serious chance of lifting this prestigious prize. Let’s take a look at the favourite, and a couple of other Epsom Derby tips worth following.



BOLSHOI BALLET marked himself out as a leading candidate for Epsom with victory in the Derrinstown Stakes at Leopardstown in May. It wasn’t just the six-length margin of victory that rocketed him to the top of the Epsom Derby odds. It was the astonishing turn of foot that put the race to sleep early in the straight that day that had experienced observers clamouring to back him for the big race.

Bolshoi Ballet could not be better bred – he is by the all-conquering Galileo, who was trainer Aidan O’Brien’s first Derby winner. Now yet another of his sons could be following in Galileo’s hoofprints, and it will take a good one to stop him.



The Dante Stakes at York’s May meeting often throws up a serious contender when you’re looking for Epsom Derby tips, and this year was no exception. HURRICANE LANE showed a really good attitude in reeling in long-time leader Roman Empire and finished in a style that suggested an extra couple of furlongs at Epsom will suit perfectly.

Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby won the Epsom Derby three years ago and they have a live chance in this colt with a 100% record who looks sure to go well at a decent price.



Lingfield, with its sharp downhill run into the straight, is one of few tracks that mirrors the test the Epsom Derby presents. Anthony Van Dyck won the Derby trial there on his way to Epsom glory two years ago and a horse from this year’s running could go well in the big race. ADAYAR is a big unit, but he handled the descent well and stayed on gamely up the straight into second place. The ground is likely to be much firmer at Epsom, which looks likely to suit him a lot better. He could reward an each-way investment at a long price.


The Oaks always presents a fascinating puzzle for punters to solve. The second fillies’ Classic is always as competitive as it is intriguing and it is often won by a horse at a decent price. So let’s look at the favourite and a couple of her rivals.



If SANTA BARBARA was trained by anyone but Aidan O’Brien, she would surely not be such a short price to triumph at Epsom. She has run only twice and the most recent of those saw her finish only fourth when well fancied in the 1,000 Guineas. While the way she ran suggested the extra distance of the Oaks might suit, her high head carriage was a concern. She may have come on for the run at Newmarket, but you are taking a lot on trust if you back her at prohibitive odds here.



The last horse to win the Oaks with a name starting with a Z was Zinc in 1823 – but there are reasons to believe that 198-year wait will end this year. ZEYAADAH was tasting defeat for the first time when she finished second in the Cheshire Oaks at Chester. But the way that race panned out made this a compelling Oaks trial for her. She was trapped in traffic for much of the trip and once she saw daylight she flew home without being able to catch Dubai Fountain. The longer straight at Epsom will play to her strengths and she looks a strong contender at decent odds.



OCEAN ROAD caught the eye when finishing less than two lengths behind the winner in Lingfield’s Oaks trial in May. She was held up before making eye-catching progress in the straight and staying on into third place. The ground will surely be firmer at Epsom than it was that day, and Ocean Road looks sure to give her best when others are struggling with the pace. Trainer Hugo Palmer knows how to win a Classic, having won the 2000 Guineas in 2016 with Galileo Gold, and he has a contender here who could go off at a very generous price.


A great way to get even more involved in the Epsom Derby is to run a sweepstakes for your friends, family or colleagues. It’s really straightforward. Everyone puts some money in the pot and in return they get one of the Epsom Derby runners. If it finishes in the first four, you win.

You should be able to find Epsom Derby sweepstake kits in newspapers or online in the countdown to the big race. If not, it’s easy to make your own. Just print out a list of the horses running in the race – the final field, with a maximum of 20 runners, is declared 48 hours before the off. Then print out another list, cut out each runner’s name and put all the names into a hat. Each of the people you’re inviting to get involved, and who’s paid their stake money, now picks a name out.

When it comes to sharing out the pool, you could divide the winnings up like this:

1st place - 60%
2nd place - 25%
3rd place - 10%
4th place - 5%

We hope you and your pals, family or workmates enjoy the sweepstakes – and the Epsom Derby itself.


The Epsom Derby and Oaks are the twin highlights of two sparkling days of horse racing that make up the Epsom Derby festival 2021. As well as the two Classics, racing fans can look forward to several other highlights over two days at the Epsom course.

The Coronation Cup is run on the same day as the Oaks, over the same mile-and-a-half course as the two Classics. This is a race for older horses and we may see Serpentine and Love, winners of the 2020 Derby and Oaks respectively, back at the track where they achieved immortality. On Epsom Derby day itself, the race before the big one is the Dash, a pell-mell sprint over the downhill five-furlong straight.

The highlight of the entire meeting is, of course, the Derby, with its long and famous history. The fastest Epsom Derby time was set just 11 years ago by Workforce, who won in 2min 31.33sec. This is where the ill-fated Shergar won the Epsom Derby with a record ten-length victory in 1981. It’s also where tragedy struck in the 1913 Epsom Derby when suffragette Emily Davison suffered fatal injuries after she ran out on to the track in front of the King’s horse Anmer as the field rounded Tattenham Corner.


Enjoying a gamble on one or more of the Epsom Derby tips you decide on is great fun and part of the pleasure of watching sport. However, we encourage you to enjoy Epsom Derby betting responsibly at all times.

Please don’t wager more than you can afford, and don’t chase your losses by raising your stakes if your first couple of bets don’t pay off. Betting is supposed to be fun, a light-hearted leisure activity. However, if you find yourself doing it to excess, please seek out one of the many agencies offering advice and practical help.

Epsom Derby FAQs

When is the Epsom Derby?

The Epsom Derby 2021 will take place on Saturday June 5 at 4.30pm. For many decades, the race drew enormous crowds to Epsom on a Wednesday afternoon, but it switched to Saturday 25 years ago. There will be a crowd of 4,000 in attendance this year.

How old is the Epsom Derby?

The Epsom Derby was first run in 1780, when it was won by Diomed. The race was named after the Earl of Derby, after he hosted a party to celebrate the first running of the Oaks the year before. It has been run at Epsom ever since, except during the World Wars when it was moved to Newmarket.

What is the prize money for the Epsom Derby 2021?

Total prize money on offer for the Epsom Derby 2021 is £1.125million. This is a substantial increase on 2020, when the prize fund was smaller because of the impact of Covid-19. The connections of the winning horse will collect £638,000.

What to wear to the Epsom Derby?

This depends on which enclosure you visit. If you are in the Queen’s Stand, men are expected to wear morning dress and women should dress formally too. In the main Grandstand, both sexes are expected to dress smartly. If you are elsewhere on the course, no formality is expected.