Anything Epsom can do …

Legend has it that more than 200 years ago, the 12th Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury tossed a coin for the privilege of having a race named after them. Since 1780, Epsom Downs has hosted the original Derby (pronounced ‘dah-bee’), inspiring a host of great races around the world, including the Kentucky Derby (pronounced ‘der-bee’). Denmark is no exception and on 24 June 2012, Klampenborg Racetrack is the place to be.

Danish Derby Day is one of the highlights of the summer social calendar, with all the pomp and circumstance you would expect of such an auspicious occasion. It is not just for hobnobbing with the horsey elite, but a cultural celebration where elegant summer dresses and flamboyant hats mix with the outrageously colourful costumes of the jockeys and the sheer thrill of a day at the races. 

There are 12 races in all, with the gates opening at 10:00. A horse only has one chance to win the blue ribbon event, The Derby, as it is for three-year-olds only. For the 2013 Derby there are already 141 horses registered in a field that will be whittled down to the traditional 15 horses. Owners and trainers have spent years preparing for this event trying to breed the perfect galloping full-blooded superhorse – one that can career around racetracks at speeds of up to 65 km/hour.

The devoted Derby-goers will have already been at Klampenborg for the traditional ‘Morning Gallop’ on Monday at 07:00 to cast an eye over potential dark horses in the field before witnessing the all-important draw in the Paddock restaurant. On the day itself, the sharp-eyed punters will be watching the contenders parade in the paddock, while hoping to get some last-minute information straight from the horse’s mouth. 

Fancy a flutter on the ‘mane’ attraction? Well, the football fan can have a bet on Cassano or Puyol; the more literary-inclined will be prejudiced towards Darcy; kids can invest their pocket money (via their parents, as you need to 18 to bet) in the equine version of Buzz Lightyear; Irish gamblers will be interested to know that Desert King, the winner of the 1997 Irish Derby, is the grandfather of The Kicker – or they’ll simply back Irish jockey Eddie Ahern, who will be cracking the whip on Khan. Back in 1965, a 10 kroner bet on Fonseca saw you stuff your wallet and hoof it home with 730kr winnings, whereas Peas and Carrots’ victory in 2006 yeilded a measly 14 kroner after it won at odds of 1.4. For those keeping a tight rein on their money, 10 kroner is the minimum bet at the Tote. On Derby Day, Klampenborg Racetrack expects to pay out more than 2 million kroner in winnings. 

It’s a day to spoil yourself so why not try a Derby platter at a reasonably priced 265 kroner in the Kongelige restaurant. There may still be a few tickets left if you’re lucky (4499 7701). Duval Leroy champagne will be served at the Champagne Bar in front of the beautiful Royal tribune building, a lovingly restored building dating back to 1906. Your own wicker picnic basket can be enjoyed in the grassy area by the playground. 

No Derby Day would be complete without the presence of weird, wonderful and just plain silly hats. The annual hat competition will be an interesting sideshow with prizes awarded at the Kongelogen in front of the restaurant. For the young ones, there is a playground and the chance to test out aspiring jockey potential with pony rides and other entertainment.

Don’t hold your horses – this is a surefire tip for a fantastic and affordable day out with good food, drink and excitement in a glorious setting and in the company of up to 8,000 dressed-to-impress Klampenborg race-goers.

Derby Day
Klampenborg Galopbane, Klampenborgvej 52-56; Sunday from 10:00; tickets: adults 100kr, concessions 50kr, under-18s free adm, 3996 0202;; parking: 20kr; bus 388 from Lyngby or Klampenborg Stations