VIDEO: Thousands enjoy 234th Epsom Derby

Racegoers enjoyed the summer atmosphere at Epsom on Saturday

Racegoers enjoyed the summer atmosphere at Epsom on Saturday

First published in Epsom
Last updated
Your Local Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief reporter

The 234th Derby was enjoyed by thousands of racegoers without serious incident on Saturday, 100 years after a Suffragette disrupted the world-famous flat race by walking out in front of the King’s horse.

Racegoers enjoyed the summer atmosphere at Epsom Downs Racecourse, where a shock result saw the Derby favourite, Dawn Approach, trail home last, beaten by winner Ruler of the World, whose jockey was Aidan O’Brien.

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The Queen watches intently, alongside Prince Philip and Prince Andrew

Entertainment and racing kicked off after 1pm, when the Queen and Prince Philip, with a royal party including Prince Andrew and his daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, arrived at the racecourse.

After being driven down the racecourse, from Tattenham Corner towards the Queen's Stand, the national anthem was sung by the Military Wives’ Choir.

Celebrities including Jack Whitehall, Gemma Chan and Otis Ferry attended the event, regarded as the highlight of the racing calendar.

Back in 1913 Suffragette Emily Davison interrupted the Derby when she walked onto the racecourse, in front of the King’s horse Anmer. She was knocked down and died four days later from her injuries at the Old Cottage Hospital, in Alexandra Road, Epsom.

There were concerns that someone would try to disrupt the race on the anniversary, but nothing happened despite the fact there was no increase in security measures.

Police did however run checks on people entering the grounds dressed as Suffragettes.

A handful of women attended the event dressed in the purple, white and green colours of the movement which fought to get women the vote.

One of them, who attended the event with her young daughter, who was also dressed as a Suffragette, her husband and her other child, who she was pushing along in a pram, said she had been briefly stopped by Surrey police officers, who carried out a background check on her.

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The champagne was flowing...

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...and so was the fashion!

Although Epsom Downs Racecourse had said that images of Suffragette martyr Emily Davison and other Suffragettes would be shown on big television screens across the racecourse at the event to commemorate her death, no such images were displayed seen on the day.

Although many thousands clearly enjoyed the day, one Derby-goer, who has attended the race for 40 years as a resident of Epsom, Sutton, Cheam and Lower Kingswood, contacted the newspaper to say he was "totally horrified" with the way he felt the event had changed.

Having attended the Derby with his young family, he said: "The general sense of occasion was lost, filled with looks of people wandering around with beer, vodka bottles getting drunk and not paying much attention to the event itself.

"What struck me most was there was less focus on the families, who would benefit most from an event like this typically based around picnics and games.

"Why has the funfair been moved to the middle of the course? You didn’t even know the races had started and commentary went down at key times.

"It seems sad, that the Derby felt more like a tacky Festival than a Grade 1 horse racing event. I really feel the event has lost its way."

Epsom fire station’s watch manager, Gareth Arnold, said the fire service had 20 calls on Saturday, relating to the Derby, which included putting out BBQ fires at the racecourse, administering first aid to unconscious and drunk people, aiding a woman who trapped her hand in a marquee and a car which became stuck in a ditch.

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Did you attend this year's Epsom Derby? Let us know what you thought of it by leaving a comment below or sending a letter to: letters@epsomguardian.co.uk.

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