Investec Derby - Heritage and History
Investec Derby - Heritage and History

Click above to watch Investec Derby - Heritage and History (2010)

(Image and Footage : Investec Derby)


Epsom Downs Racecourse

4 June 2011

Saturday 4 June 2011 sees the running of the Investec Derby at Epsom Downs Racecourse; a group one flat race run over a distance of 1 mile, 4 furlongs and 10 yards open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies. It is the world’s greatest flat race. It is also the race that every Owner, Trainer and Jockey want to win more than any other.

The town of Epsom first became famous for its natural mineral water in 1618 when a local farmer, Henry Wicker, took his cattle up to a watering hole on the Downs. The alleged healing properties of the water brought crowds from London who wanted to escape the city squalor in return for clean country air.

In 1661 Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest scientists and mathematicians in history, commenced his education at Trinity College, Cambridge. The same year saw the first recorded race meeting held on the Epsom and Walton Downs. It was in the summer of 1780 when one of today’s greatest sporting spectacles was established.

Edward Smith Stanley, the 12th Earl of Derby, organised a friendly competition for himself and his friends to race their three-year-old fillies over one and a half miles. He named his race The Oaks after his estate. The following year a new race was added, a race that would determine the Best of the Best for both the racing and breeding of racehorses. The title of the race was to be decided by the tossing of a coin between the Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury, a leading racing figure of the day and friend of the Earl’s.

This tossed coin was won by Stanley and the mile race would be known as ‘The Derby’; won incidentally, that very first year by Sir Charles Bunbury’s horse, Diomed.

In 1913 suffragette Emily Davison threw herself in front of King George V’s horse Anmer, bringing him down. Davison’s skull was fractured and she died four days later. Meanwhile, first past the post Craganour, was disqualified and 100/1 runner-up Aboyeur was awarded the race.

2006 saw a multi-horse finish rivalling that of 1913 as the closest ever. In a four-way photo, Sir Percy beat Dragon Dancer, Dylan Thomas and Hala Bek a short-head, a head and a short-head.

In its 230 years The Derby, now sponsored by Investec in a deal which runs to 2013, has enjoyed a colourful history.

Internationally, 140 other countries now hold a sporting ‘Derby’, but, Epsom still remains ‘The Home of The Derby’, attracting the largest one day sporting crowd in excess of 125,000 who, year upon year descend upon the picturesque Surrey racecourse to be part of something special - The Greatest Horse Race in the World.

National variations include the Prix du Jockey Club, the Irish Derby, the Deutsches Derby, the Derby Italiano and in Australia, the AJC Australian Derby, Queensland Derby, South Australian Derby, the VRC Victoria Derby and WATC Derby. The New Zealand Derby contested at Ellerslie Racecourse, Auckland is the richest Derby in the Southern Hemisphere. Several races in the United States bear the “Derby” name, the most famous of which is the Kentucky Derby.

The race, watched by 7 million in the UK is viewed in over a billion homes worldwide, continues to dominate the media nationally and internationally and with stories such as Sea the Stars winning in 2009 and going on to become the most valuable horse in the world the race will continue to flourish in its future.

A few memorable moments in Derby History :

1805 - One of the horses was brought down by a spectator.

1838 - Amato never raced before or after winning the Derby.

1844 - The original winner Running Rein was disqualified as he was actually an ineligible four-year-old horse named Maccabeus.

1881 - Iroquois became the first American-bred to win a leg of the British triple crown.

1884 - The race finished with a dead-heat between Harvester and St. Gatien.

1887 - Merry Hampton is the most recent horse to win the Derby with no previous victories.

1894 - The winner was owned by the Prime Minister at the time, the 5th Earl of Rosebery.

1901 - The first year in which a mechanical starting gate was used.

1909 - Minoru was the first Derby winner owned by a reigning monarch, King Edward VII, who had previously won twice as Prince of Wales.

1913 - The 6/4 favourite Craganour, owned by Charles B. Ismay, brother of J. Bruce Ismay of the Titanic, was controversially disqualified, and the race was awarded to the 100/1 outsider Aboyeur. Suffragette Emily Davison is struck by King George V’s horse, Anmer, she dies four days later.

1916 - Fifinella, who also won the Oaks, is the most recent of six fillies to win the race. The previous five were Eleanor (1801), Blink Bonny (1857), Shotover (1882), Signorinetta (1908), Tagalie (1912).

1921 - The winner Humorist died two weeks after the race.

1927 - The first Derby to be broadcast by the BBC.

1932 - April the Fifth is the most recent winner trained at Epsom.

1946 - Airborne is the most recent of 4 grey horses to win the Derby.

1953 - Pinza was the first winner in the race for the jockey Sir Gordon Richards, after 27 unsuccessful attempts.

1989 - The runner-up Terimon is the longest-priced horse to finish placed in the Derby, at odds of 500/1.

1996 - Alex Greaves became the first (and so far only) lady jockey to ride in the race. She finished last on the filly Portuguese Lil.

1998 - The most recent filly to take part, the 1,000 Guineas winner Cape Verdi, started as 11/4 favourite but could only finish 9th.

2007 - Authorized provided jockey Frankie Dettori with his first winner in the Derby after 14 previous attempts.

2008 - Jim Bolger, the trainer of New Approach, had left the horse entered for the race “by mistake”, having not initially intended to run.

Extracts from Epsom Derby and Wikipedia