Horse racing

Epsom race days confirmed next week

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The full list of 2023 Epsom race days could be confirmed next week, with the Derby planned for the weekend of June 3. The Epsom Downs Racecourse needs confirmation for some of the races in this year’s programme from the Epsom and Walton Downs Conservators.

A meeting of the conservators, made up of councillors and representatives of the Jockey Club, which runs the racecourse, will discuss the proposed dates on Monday (January 16). Any race meets on a Sunday or taking place in the evening need the approval of the conservators, affecting five dates in the calendar.

It will be the first Epsom Derby to be held since the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September. The late Queen was a regular the Derby, and when she missed the 2022 Derby it was only the fifth time she had since her coronation, with two of those times due to coronavirus restrictions.

The meeting will also decide whether or not barbecues will be allowed on the Downs during the race days, as happened for the first time in 2022. In 2020 and 2021 the event was held behind closed doors, and in 2022 it was held with a capacity crowd for the first time since 2019, with people in the grandstand and watching from the Downs too.

As well as Derby Day on Saturday June 3, the list of races also includes Ladies’ Day on Friday June 2 and other dates between April and October.

The full list of dates is below:

Tuesday 25 April
Friday 2 June (Ladies’ Day)
Saturday 3 June (Derby Day)
Wednesday 5 July (Evening)
Thursday 13 July (Evening)
Thursday 20 July (Evening)
Thursday 3 August (Evening)
Friday 18 August
Monday 28 August (Bank Holiday)
Thursday 14 September
Sunday 1 October

The evening dates listed above and the race on Sunday October 1 are those which need approval from the meeting.

Barbecues on the Downs were approved by the Conservators in March 2020, but not introduced until 2022 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Conservators will decide if they can go ahead again for Ladies’ Day, The Derby and the August Bank Holiday race meetings.

An officers’ report into the barbecues said a “global debate” was ongoing over their impact on air pollution, with sustainably produced charcoal possibly having a carbon neutral impact on the environment. The report said: “The Jockey Club may want to consider this research in its code of conduct for use of the barbecue area and encourage visitors to purchase sustainably produced charcoal from coppiced English woodlands or made from other sustainable materials such as coconut shells, seed/crop husks or bamboo.”

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