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Horse Racing

Epsom Derby hit by massive double blow with new train strikes set to cause huge disruption

THE Epsom Derby – the race Frankie Dettori called ‘the best in the world’ – has been hit with a massive double blow just weeks before its run.

Fresh train strikes have been announced for June 3, the date of the blockbuster Group 1 worth over £850,000 to the winner.

The Derby will be off much earlier this year and and punters hoping to attend could be hit by the latest round of planned train strikes

Just yesterday it was confirmed the race would be off at the much earlier start time of 1.30pm.

This is to avoid a clash with the FA Cup final between Manchester United and Man City at Wembley.

Epsom racecourse is serviced by stations including Epsom and Epsom Downs.

They are on South Western trains and Southern respectively, both of whom are set to strike on June 3.

Aslef rejected a fresh pay deal today, and announced three days of strike action.

The union is in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

The union said it has rejected a ‘risible’ 4 per cent pay offer from the 16 train companies it remains in dispute with.

General secretary Mick Whelan said drivers have not had a pay rise at those companies since 2019.

He said: “Our executive committee met this morning and rejected a risible proposal we received from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).

“The proposal – of just 4 per cent – was clearly not designed to be accepted as inflation is still running north of 10 per cent and our members at these companies have not had an increase for four years.”

The Derby has been moved to its earliest start time ever amid police security concerns over the powder keg FA Cup final at Wembley.

The race, won last year by Sir Michael Stoute’s Desert Crown, will become the second contest on the eight-race card.

ITV will show live coverage of the feature – one of five Classics in the Flat season.

But punters were hardly in love with the idea, which came before the train strikes were announced.

One said on social media: “Personally I think this is an utterly ridiculous idea.”

While another wrote: “What a disgrace. All the more reason to move the race back to a Wednesday.”

James Crespi, general manager at Epsom, said: “This year, the first Saturday in June will play host to two Derbys, and two of Britain’s great sporting events.

“In order to give fans of both horse racing and football the opportunity to enjoy the Betfred Derby and the FA Cup Final and to maximise the publicity and exposure of these two iconic sporting occasions, which will both be broadcast live on ITV1, we have made some changes to our usual schedule.

“We are grateful to our partners at ITV and our generous sponsors Betfred for their help in facilitating the move, and we can’t wait for what is sure to be a great afternoon for British sport.”