Derby to be run over 'new' trip following racecourse remeasurement
The Derby will have a new official distance this year, but purists need not worry that Epsom has succumbed to the pressures that saw France reduce the distance of the Prix Du Jockey Club some years ago.
The BHA has issued a raft of alterations following the first remeasurement of Flat race distances since 1991, and the Derby distance, which henceforth will be advertised as 'about 1m4f', is actually 1m4f and 6 yds, and not the 1m4f and 10 yds it was traditionally thought to have been.
In this instance there will be no movement to the start, so the race will be run over the same distance as in the past.
However, on many courses starts will be moved in order to ensure races are run over precisely their advertised distance, and where a discrepancy has been identified and a start can not be moved the advertised distance will be changed.
Most alterations are minor – no fewer than 11 starts at Newbury are to be moved but none by more than six yards – but there are instances where alterations are much more significant.
At Lingfield, for example, the traditional turf distance of 'about 2m' was found to be '2m and 68 yards', and that will be the distance over which such races will be advertised in future, with no change to the start position.
The track will continue to run turf races at about 1m6f, but that start will be moved forward by 118 yards in the most significant move seen at any of the remeasured tracks.
Clerk of the course Ed Arkell said: "Measuring back to two miles takes you smack to the bottom of the hill, and all I can assume is that when that start was initially put in it was felt that having it there was not ideal.
"It was long before my time but I expect it was moved back up the straight, away from the stands, but still called two miles. The mile-six start would have been measured from that two-mile start."
The new distances and amended starts will appear in all publications and platforms for fixtures taking place from May 8. Clerks of the course will retain the flexibility to move rails to ensure the best and safest possible racing surface.