The Epsom Oaks was first run on May 14, 1779, one year before the introduction of the Derby. The race is named after The Oaks, a house leased to the 12th Earl of Derby, located about 4 miles to the east of Epsom Downs. Lord Derby and his guests created the idea behind the race in 1778. The winner of the first running, Bridget, was actually owned by Lord Derby himself.
The Epsom Oaks has been the inspiration behind several other Group One races in Europe, most notably the Irish Oaks but also the Prix de Diane, the Preis der Diana and the Oaks d'Italia.
The race has had many winners who have gone on to great things in their racing careers, including the wonderful Ouija Board, who completed the double of the 2004 Epsom and Irish Oaks and also won two Breeders Cup turf titles in the USA. Oh So Sharp, who won the race in 1985, was the last filly to complete the Triple Crown of the 1000 Guineas, The Epsom Oaks and the St Leger. She was one of top trainer, Henry Cecils eight winners of the race. See Epsom Oaks Past winners.
Epsom Oaks - Records
There are some startling records worth mentioning in the Epsom Oaks:
- Leading Jockey - Frank Buckle with 9 wins, which began in 1797 and ended in 1823.
- Leading Trainer - Robert Robson - 12 wins between 1802 and 1825.
- Leading Owner - 4th Duke of Grafton - 6 wins between 1813 and 1831.
- Fastest Winning Time - Intrepidity in 1993 in 2 min 34.19 secs
- Widest Winning Margin - Sun Princess in 1983 who won by 12 lengths
- Longest Odds Winner - Vespa & Jet Ski Lady both at 50-1
- Shortest Odds Winner - Pretty Polly in 1904 who was 8-100.
- Most Runners - 26 in 1848
- Fewest Runners - 4 in 1799 and 1904