Drive-in Derby

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Independence Day becomes Co-dependence day in the UK – the British public have endured long enough without the staples of their pre-lockdown diet: hairdressers, pubs, cinemas, and most importantly, live sport. On 4th July, this all comes to an end.

The biggest flat race in the calendar is going ahead, following the success of Royal Ascot, and we are combining two of those elements to bring you the first (and therefore best) live spectator experience since pre-lockdown. While it was fun putting together the Virtual Royal Enclosure for Ascot, these plans for the Derby will make you feel like you’re virtually there.

At a secret location in West London, a giant outdoor cinema screen will beam out all the live racing from the Epsom Derby meeting, including the flagship race at 4:55pm, with 80 cars lined up to watch the drama unfold. On the back of the highest Royal Ascot television viewing figures in almost a decade, racing is having a renaissance among the sport-hungry public.

Given most racegoers watch the racing screens anyway, unless you’ve got binoculars or have passed the Barnard Castle eye test, this will feel like you are practically there. If anything, the horses on the screen will be bigger than in real life.

Spectators can buy a standard ticket for £100, which allows entry for one car and five people (£20 per head), or a VIP ticket with front-row viewing for £150. The commentary from the races will be synced to their car radios, while guests are encouraged to bring their picnics and hampers to the party. The cars will be well-spaced out, allowing each car ‘bubble’ to enjoy their bubbly without fear of catching or spreading the virus from other spectators.

Unconfirmed yet exciting rumours are spreading that 4th July will also host the fillies’ equivalent of the Derby, the Oaks. This would be a truly thrilling and unprecedented event in racing.

While it was special having the St James’s Palace, Coronation Stakes and the Diamond Jubilee all on the same day at Ascot, seeing the Derby and the Oaks both run on 4th July would offer spectators a racing feast fit for a king. Perhaps even the highly-fancied Derby favourite English King, who will be ridden by none other than superstar jockey Frankie Dettori in Bjorn Nielsen’s iconic Stradivarius colours. The thought is spine-tingling.

CEO William Woodhams said to press recently, “It has been wonderful to see sport return but a little eerie not hearing the sound of fans enjoying it. With such a spectacle of horse racing happening, we couldn’t resist finding an innovative and fun way of enjoying the action. Weirdly it was an old idea, the drive-in movie, that inspired us. We hope everyone enjoys a very safe day but with the sound of the racegoers roaring back again!”

There seems to be no quick route back to live sport, as the government appear determined to take things slowly. If they aren’t even allowing cricket to be played, watching live sport outdoors on giant screens must be the way forward – become a trailblazer and join us on 4th July to celebrate the Derby!

Please play responsibly