How to enjoy the Epsom Derby at home

William Buick riding Masar wins The Investec Derby race
2018 INVESTEC Derby Festival
June 2nd 201

William Buick riding Masar wins The Investec Derby race 2018 INVESTEC Derby Festival June 2nd 2018 Photos - Jed Leicester / INVESTEC - Credit: Archant

For the first time in its history, the Investec Epsom Derby will be staged behind closed doors on July 4 – here’s how to have a ‘day at the races’ at home | Words: Rebecca Younger

INVESTEC Derby Festival
Saturday 1st June
The Derby -
Jed Leicester

INVESTEC Derby Festival Saturday 1st June The Derby - Photos: Jed Leicester - Credit: Archant

Considered the world’s greatest flat race, the Epsom Derby has been entertaining racegoers for 241 years.

This year, for the first time in its history, the event will take place behind closed doors. But that doesn’t mean spectators will have to miss out on festivities.

The day will consist of seven races including the historic fillies’ classic, the Investec Oaks, and the feature race, the Investec Derby.

The Derby -
Jed Leicester

The Derby - Photos: Jed Leicester - Credit: Archant

“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,” said Simon Durrant, general manager of Epsom Downs Racecourse.

“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 July 4.”

As events unfold on television, starting with the first race at 1:50pm, viewers are being encouraged to host their own (socially distanced) ‘Great British Garden Party’ and event organisers, The Jockey Club, have come up with a whole host of ideas to help you get the party started.

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Look the part

Fashion has always been a huge part of Derby Day and just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you can’t dress up if you want. You could encourage friends and family to dress in traditional race attire, complete with fancy headwear (perhaps make your own) or to come in fancy dress - with no racecourse-enforced dress code to adhere to, you can be as creative as you like.

Do a sweepstake

Choose a race and do a sweepstake with your guests. Do it just for fun or ask each participant to donate some money and the winner will receive the prize fund. You can simply write the names of the horses on pieces of paper or get a little more creative by drawing a picture of the jockey’s silks and colouring in the relevant colour/design, before popping them in a bowl or hat for people to pick at random.

Create a Derby-themed food and drinks menu

Serve a quintessentially British summer menu of cucumber sandwiches, sausage rolls and strawberries. Make your own or you could call upon Surrey producers to create a picnic spread to enjoy in the garden. Create some refreshing Derby-themed cocktails to go with the food – this one was served at last year’s Investec Derby Festival:

The Derby Spritz


• 50ml pink gin

• 50ml lemonade

• 25ml Prosecco

• Handful of strawberries cut into halves

• Fresh lemon juice

• Large ice cubes


1. Fill a large glass with ice

2. Add the gin and lemonade

3. Top up with Prosecco and a tiny splash of lemon juice

4. Garnish with strawberries

Host an afterparty

The Investec Derby Festival isn’t just about the racing. The afterparty is just as fun. In recent years DJs such as Jo Whiley and Vogue Williams have entertained the crowds at Epsom. Create a playlist for your own after party celebration and make a selfie station so you can take pictures of you and your guests partying in their race-day outfits. Invite other households to join in via a video call.

For more ideas and to download a Great British Garden Party pack, visit