This year, the 241st running of the Investec Derby will take place in an unprecedented way. For the first time in its history the World’s Greatest Flat Race will be staged behind closed doors, due to the current COVID19 pandemic restrictions. There will be no public access to the racecourse, the outer enclosures or to the Hill.
The event will be equally unprecedented in its format, taking place on just one single day, Saturday 4th July 2020. The day will consist of seven races including the historic fillies’ classic the Investec Oaks, and the feature race the Investec Derby.
Race fans can still get involved and enjoy the ‘fun of the fair’ flavour of the Investec Derby at home with (socially distanced) family and friends; the racecourse today has launched a downloadable ‘Great British Garden Party’ pack including bunting, games and recipe content.
What’s more, the racecourse is looking for the best home setups and will be sharing favourites on the day with the chance to win the incredible prize of a Private Tour around The Jockey Club’s sparkling wine partner, Coates and Seely’s vineyard, for up to 12 people! Click here to learn more about this amazing prize and download your pack now.
General Manager of Epsom Downs Racecourse, Simon Durrant said:
“We are delighted that the Investec Derby can go ahead at its unique home course. Indeed, this will be the first time both the Oaks and Derby races take place on the same day, with both set to feature highly competitive fields.
“Whilst we are sad not to be able to welcome the usual thousands of spectators to the racecourse in person, we invite the community and wider audience to get involved via our website and social media channels, and to enjoy the historic event on ITV on Saturday 4th July.”
Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of Epsom & Ewell Borough Council’s Strategy & Resources Committee, said:
“With the Government’s decision to encourage the return of national sporting events we welcome the innovative approach being adopted by the racing industry in order to ensure a safe Investec Derby and associated day of racing in these exceptional times.
“Racing is a part of our borough’s proud heritage but we recognise that, this year, the only way to support and celebrate this day of racing, is to enjoy it from home.”
Here Epsom Downs Racecourse looks to answer questions about how this unique version of the event will take place and the ways the community and wider public can continue to engage with and enjoy the spectacle that is Investec Derby Day, albeit in an alternative way.
INVESTEC DERBY 2020; ‘BEHIND CLOSED DOORS’
What date is Investec Derby 2020?
Investec Derby Day will take place on a single day in 2020 - Saturday 4 July.
What races will take place:
The day will feature seven races including the Investec Oaks and the feature race, the Investec Derby. This is the first time the fillies’ classic has ever taken place on the same day as the Derby.
Who has authorised the meeting to go ahead behind closed doors (BCD)?
The UK Government approved the resumption of elite sport behind closed doors from 1st June, provided a range of important health and safety protocols were adhered to. British Racing had worked collaboratively to prepare for this return and has been staging events since that resumption date, all overseen by the sport’s independent governing body, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).
The Jockey Club, which runs Epsom Downs Racecourse, has worked in conjunction with the BHA, the Epsom & Walton Down Conservators, who govern access to the Downs, and Epsom & Ewell Borough Council to enable the meeting to go ahead at the racecourse without a crowd present, on the rescheduled date of Saturday 4th July 2020.
Can I attend?
No, sadly the event for the first time in its history will not be open to the public in response to the government’s restrictions on mass gatherings due to the COVID19 pandemic. However, the racing will be televised live for all to enjoy on free-to-air television on ITV main channel or subscription channel, Racing TV.
Who is allowed to be at the event?
Only a very limited number of pre-approved key operational staff, equine personnel and the racehorses themselves will be permitted on-site. They will follow the specific requirements as outlined by the BHA and agreed with the Government, including health screening. Social distancing and PPE (personal protective equipment) will be implemented to minimise any risk of transmission of the virus.
Why has it been permitted to go ahead?
Consent for the sport was given by the Government to resume behind closed doors from 1 June 2020. The racecourse has duly satisfied the governing bodies that it can meet all safety requirements in order to go ahead.
The Investec Derby and the Investec Oaks are of vital importance to the sport of horseracing as they form part of the 2020 Classic programme that also includes the 1000/2000 Guineas at Newmarket, which were also postponed and run in June. These races are significant to the entire racing and breeding industries, which support tens of thousands of livelihoods in the UK alone. A racehorse only gets one chance in its lifetime – at the age of three – to race in either the Investec Derby or the Investec Oaks, so it is pleasing this was not lost from the current generation.
Why did the race need to be staged at Epsom Downs?
The Derby Course is unique, and running the race at its rightful home provides all horses with the same historic and supreme test of the Thoroughbred that every generation has enjoyed since 1780 – other than during both World Wars.
How are you going to host it behind closed doors?
The racing operation within the main stands and equine areas (parade ring, stables and racecourse) will only be open to approved key operational staff. A section of the Downs will be temporarily closed in order to ensure the event is delivered safely behind closed doors.
Will the Downs be open?
A section of the Downs will be closed for a 24hr period from 0001hrs to 2359hrs on Saturday 4 July, as defined on the map below. This is the minimum time required to secure the racecourse in the build up to and break down of the streamlined event, to ensure public and staff safety.
However, the wider areas of the Downs outside this area will remain open and accessible to the public to enjoy fresh air and exercise. This area of the Downs will not have a view of the race due to the fencing as detailed below. Local trainers will be permitted to exercise their horses within the restricted area on the morning of the race meeting as usual.
How will you close off the Downs?
Fencing and stewarding staff will be placed around the perimeter of the site which restricts movement and also removes the ability to watch the event, including at the various crossing points onto the Hill and surrounding areas. We are also in communication with the travelling community to request they do not attend on the Hill this year.
Are you allowed to close off the Downs?
The Downs are private land owned by The Jockey Club. They are subject to an Act of Parliament, which provides the public with access to ‘air and exercise on foot’, but under the proviso that “the public’s use shall not interfere with the rights conferred upon (the racecourse) and the Levy Board, principally to hold race meetings and to train racehorses.” The Downs are where racing and the community have existed together for centuries.
The Conservators have provided approval on this rare occasion for the event to take place on a postponed date and for a section of the Downs to be temporarily unavailable to the public.
The area that will be in use behind closed doors is defined on the map below. This is in order for the racecourse to control all access points, including roads and footpaths, as defined under a clause that we may, “during the racing period, control access over the Race Course and Paddock.”
Will there be other road closures?
In order for the event to take place safely and securely, Tattenham Corner Road will be closed off for vehicles and pedestrians from 0630hrs to 1900hrs on Saturday 4 July.
HOW TO ENJOY THE GREATEST FLAT RACE IN THE WORLD REMOTELY?
Can I watch the race on TV?
Yes, 6 races will be televised on free to air television on ITV1, including the Investec Oaks and culminating with the Investec Derby. Coverage will begin at 1:30pm and the Investec Derby will take place at 4:55pm after which coverage will conclude at 5:30pm.
Can I bet on the races?
Yes, bookmakers will continue to take bets as normal either online or at your local betting shop. They will have their own social distancing measures in place.
You can also bet online with our official Investec Derby betting partner, www.unibet.co.uk
Where can I find the racecard?
EDR will be producing a digital racecard with interactive content including exclusive videos, to enable fans to access facts and information about the day’s contenders on their device from the convenience of their own home. Within the racecard, Epsom Downs Racecourse will be supporting both The Jockey Club’s charity, Racing Welfare, and Investec’ pledge to support London foodbanks with The Trussell Trust by running a raffle to win a pair of breeches, signed by the Jockeys running in the 241st Derby, If you would like to subscribe to receive this on the morning of the meeting please sign up at https://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/epsom/newsletter/ or visit our website on the day.
Great British Garden Party pack
The Great British Garden Party pack contains everything you need for the perfect (socially distanced) Garden Party to celebrate Investec Derby Day on Saturday 4th July. Epsom Downs Racecourse will be looking for the best home setups and sharing favourites on the day. Get involved using #InvestecDerbyDay for your chance to WIN the incredible prize of a Private Tour around The Jockey Clubs sparkling wine partner, Coates and Seely’s, vineyard for up to 12 people! Visit https://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/epsom/events-tickets/epsom-derby/derby-at-home/ to download yours now.