From breath-taking performances to poignant successes, the 2022 campaign at Epsom Downs has been one to remember ahead of the curtain coming down on what has been another fantastic season of racing at the world-famous venue on Sunday 25th September.
Back where it all began in April the Listed Cazoo Blue Riband Trial, which is the first recognised trial for the Cazoo Derby, served up a thriller with the Charlie Appleby-trained Nahanni edging out Grand Alliance and Zain Sarinda in a pulsating three-way finish.
It was then on to The Cazoo Derby, which formed part of the official celebrations for the Platinum Jubilee of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Royal party, which included The Princess Royal, was greeted by the amazing sight of 40 jockeys, past and present, wearing the Royal silks and forming a guard of honour. For the first time since 2019 capacity crowds were welcomed back for the two-day meeting, which got underway with a minute’s applause for nine-times Derby winning rider Lester Piggott who sadly passed away aged 86 on May 29.
One man who will remember the meeting more than most is trainer Owen Burrows who secured his first Group One victory with Hukum in the DahlBury Coronation Cup.
The son of 2009 Derby hero Sea The Stars finally gained the top level success he had long threatened when defeating last year’s Coronation Cup hero Pyledriver by a resounding four and a quarter lengths.
Moments of drama often come in the biggest races and this year’s Cazoo Oaks was no exception.
All eyes were focused on impressive Musidora winner Emily Upjohn, however after making a slow start the 6-4 favourite was unable to quite reel in Tuesday, who provided trainer Aidan O’Brien with a record-breaking 41st British Classic success.
Outside of the Group One prizes a special mention goes to Epsom based trainer Laura Mongan who finally celebrated a winner at her home town track after Bowman sprung an 80-1 surprise in the Cazoo Derby Festival Handicap.
The decibel levels increased 24 hours later as the roof was raised following the emphatic success of Desert Crown in the 2022 Cazoo Derby, which was a sixth in the world’s most famous Flat race for Sir Michael Stoute and a first for winning rider Richard Kingscote.
Entering the mile and a half contest with a perfect record after following up his debut success at Nottingham with victory in the Dante Stakes at York the son of was sent off the 5-2 favourite to add to that tally which he proceeded to do in the manner of a high-class colt.
Moving strongly into contention under Kingscote, who was having just his second ride in the race, Desert Crown moved through the gears in impressive fashion before crossing the line two and a half lengths clear of Hoo Ya Mal to the delight of the majority packed in the stands.
After the buzz of the Derby it was the turn of the female amateur riders to enjoy a moment centre stage over the very same course and distance in the Coral “Get Closer To The Action” Ladies’ Derby Handicap which was claimed by Becky Smith and Miss Mulligan.
Bank Holiday Monday in August saw the turn of the gentleman amateur riders receive their chance of ‘Derby’ success in the Garden Cider Amateurs’ Derby Handicap, which this year was won by Daniel Kyne aboard the Charlie Hills-trained Saratoga Gold.
While the victory provided a first win under rules for Kyne it also proved to be a poignant success for the triumphant rider whose brother, and former jockey, Jamie Kyne died in a flat fire in September 2009.
It was then on to the Bohle Jump Jockeys Derby Handicap, which fittingly was run in weather more likely to be found at a midwinter card at Wincanton than an autumn afternoon at the iconic Surrey venue.
Having endured several luckless spins around the track during a brief stint as a flat jockey Brendan Powell was not to be denied a first winner on this occasion when teaming up with local trainer Jim Boyle to strike gold with Bad Company.
And that brings us to Sunday's meeting. While it brings an end to racing at the track in 2022 could potentially unearth a Classic contender for next year in the Derby ‘Wild Card’ EBF Conditions Stakes, so it is a case of watch this space.