The Oaks and the Derby at Epsom – two of British racing’s five Classics – are taking place on the same day for the first time this week on Saturday 4 July. The 1m4f Edpsom Derby will take place a month later than usual, after both Royal Ascot and the Irish Derby, because of the suspension of all horse racing due to Covid-19.
And whilst three miles of fencing have been put up around the track to prevent access for members of the public, for the first time since the suspension, owners will be allowed at the meeting.
Two owners per horse initially will be able to start attending race meetings in England from Saturday in a “safe and risk-managed way” under plans agreed by the Racecourse Association, the Racehorse Owners Association and the British Horseracing Authority.
All owners will need to register before all meetings, arrive no earlier than 45 minutes before their first horse is due to run and leave the racecourse within one hour of the final race in which they have a runner. There will be dedicated ‘owner zones’, which will separate owners from race day workers, including trainers and jockeys, for infection control purposes, with no movement permitted between the two areas.
Tests events are being staged this week to see how well new protocols will work, but provided all goes smoothly, those with runners in the Derby will be able to watch their horses in the flesh.
Frankie Dettori will ride hot favourite English King in Saturday’s Derby, one of 17 entries including an impressive seven horses from Irish training supremo Aidan O’Brien.
“Frankie obviously has a wealth of big-race experience and raises his game to stratospheric heights for the big races. We feel very privileged to have him on board,” said trainer Ed Walker.
However, O’Brien is looking to spoil Dettori’s party as he aims for a record eighth triumph in this year’s Epsom Derby. His listed seven horses are Mogul, Russian Emperor, Vatican City, Amhran Na Bhfiann, Armory, Mythical and Serpentine.
There is a smaller field of 11 horses for the Oaks, with runaway 1000 Guineas winner Love starting as favourite. Another O’Brien trained horse, Aiden has four in total racing in the Oaks, with Peaceful, Ennistymon and Passion join stablemate Love.
Frankie Dettori will ride John Gosden’s filly Frankly Darling and she goes in to the Epsom Oaks as second favourite after her recent Royal Ascot win.