back to top

5 Reasons The Kentucky Derby Is A Bit British

It’s Kentucky Derby day and we couldn't be more excited. We Brits do love hats and horses, after all!

Posted on

Churchill Downs


The racetrack that plays host to the Kentucky Derby each year shares a name with a certain famous Brit. While the track was actually named for John and Henry Churchill, who supplied the land for the track, Kentucky and Winston Churchill still share a special bond. The former Prime Minister was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel, the highest honour awarded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. And like the Queen, Churchill was known to be quite keen on horse racing.

Inspiration for the Kentucky Derby


Colonel M. Louis Clark devised the idea for what is now the Kentucky Derby while traveling in Europe. Visits to England’s Epsom Derby in 1872 and the French Jockey Club in 1873 inspired Clark to develop the Churchill Downs racetrack and form the Louisville Jockey Club. Until 1896, the Kentucky Derby was run at 2.4 kilometres, the same distance as the Epsom Derby.

British Equine Industry


Horse racing is the second most attended sport in the UK. The economic impact of horse racing in the UK is around £3.7 billion per year, and the industry contributes to the employment of roughly 85,000 workers.