The Epsom Derby 2018 is upon us, the latest appearance of what has been described as the greatest flat event in the horse-racing world. It is the most important of the seven races that will be run at Epsom on Saturday - the climax of what amounts to a two-day carnival on down-land, south of London.
But the Derby, and the Ladies’ Day that preceded it on Friday, is about a lot more than a chance to see three-year-old thoroughbreds at the top of their game, no matter how thrilling although that may be.
As with all the world’s great horse-races, such as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France and the Kentucky Derby in the US, the Epsom Derby is big business.
Corporate hospitality of the highest quality
To begin with, its official name is the Investec Derby Festival – since 2009, the financial services group Investec has sponsored the event in a deal that will run until 2022.
Corporate hospitality looms large at Epsom, with food and drink of the highest quality provided for clients and other important business contacts. Horse-racing, along with Formula One motor sports, has long been a favoured venue for the £1 billion-plus a year British corporate hospitality industry.
Some companies entertain their guests in the traditional double-decker buses whose presence along the course has been an Epsom tradition for some time.