Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Epsom Derby

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Inaugurated  1780
Sponsor  Investec
Distance  1m 4f 10y (2,423 m)
Race type  Flat / Thoroughbred
Website  Epsom Downs
Epsom Derby httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommons88
Location  Epsom Downs Epsom, Surrey, England, UK

1971 epsom derby full race mill reef

The Derby Stakes, popularly known as The Derby, is a Group 1 flat horse race in England open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies. It is run at Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey over a distance of one mile, four furlongs and 10 yards (2,423 metres), on the first Saturday of June each year.


It is Britain's richest horse race, and the most prestigious of the five Classics. It is sometimes referred to as the "Blue Riband" of the turf. The race serves as the middle leg of the Triple Crown, preceded by the 2000 Guineas and followed by the St Leger, although the feat of winning all three is now rarely attempted. The name "Derby" has become synonymous with great races all over the world, and as such has been borrowed many times, notably by the Kentucky Derby. However, the Epsom Derby is the original. It is one of Britain's great national sporting events and has a large worldwide TV audience.

In Great Britain the name "Derby" is pronounced /ˈdɑːrbi/, while in the United States it is /ˈdɜːrbi/, a case of spelling pronunciation.


The Derby originated at a celebration following the first running of the Oaks Stakes in 1779. A new race was planned, and it was decided that it should be named after either the host of the party, the 12th Earl of Derby, or one of his guests, Sir Charles Bunbury. According to legend the decision was made by the toss of a coin, but it is probable that Bunbury, the Steward of the Jockey Club, deferred to his host. The inaugural running of the Derby was held on Thursday 4 May 1780. It was won by Diomed, a colt owned by Sir Charles Bunbury, who collected prize money of £1,065 15s. The first four runnings were contested over 1 mile, but this was amended to the current distance of 1½ miles in 1784. Lord Derby achieved his first success in the event in 1787, with a horse called Sir Peter Teazle.

The starting point of the race was moved twice during the 19th century. The first move, suggested by Lord George Bentinck, was in 1848, and the second was in 1872. It was discovered in 1991 that the exact length of the race was one mile, four furlongs and 10 yards.

Initially the Derby was run on a Thursday in late May or early June depending on when Easter occurred. In 1838 the race was moved to a Wednesday to fit in with the railways' time tables, but was still run on different dates depending on Easter. In the 20th century, the race was run on the first Wednesday in June from 1900 until 1995 apart from: 1915 to 1918, (during the First World War) when it was on a Tuesday; during the Second World War, from 1942 until 1945 the race was run on a Saturday as it was in the post-war years of 1947 to 1950 and again in 1953. In 1995 the day was changed from the first Wednesday in June to the first Saturday, and since then all the races have taken place on that day.

The Derby has been run at Epsom in all years except during the world wars. From 1915 to 1918 and from 1940 to 1945 the Derby was run at Newmarket. These races are known as the 'New Derby'.

The Derby has inspired many similar events around the world. European variations include the Derby Italiano, the Deutsches Derby, the Irish Derby and the Prix du Jockey Club (popularly known in the British Isles as the "French Derby"). Other national equivalents include the Australian Derby, the New Zealand Derby and the Tokyo Yūshun. Several races in the United States include the "Derby" name, including the Kentucky Derby.


Investec became the sponsor of the Derby in 2009, and the current sponsorship deal runs until 2022. The race was previously backed by Ever Ready (1984–94) and Vodafone (1995–2008).

Epsom Fair

For many years the Derby was run on a Wednesday or a Thursday and on the day huge crowds would come from London, not only to see the race but to enjoy other entertainment (during some of the 19th century and most of the 20th Parliament would adjourn to allow members to attend the meeting).

By the time that Charles Dickens visited Epsom Downs to view the race in the 1850s, entertainers such as musicians, clowns and conjurers plied their trades and entertained the crowds while others provided other forms of entertainment such as coconut stalls. The crowded meeting was the subject of a painting by William Powell Frith painted in the 1858 and titled The Derby Day, critics have pointed out that the foreground of the painting shows some of the other reasons the crowds came to see the Derby while the racing is relegated to the margins.

In the 1870s, the steam-driven rides were introduced and they were located at the Tattenham Corner end of the grounds and the fair was on for ten days and entertained hundreds of thousands. During the latter half of the 20th century Derby Day became less popular and the race was moved from Wednesday to Saturday in 1995 the hope of reviving the numbers who came to see it. As the number of people attending the fair dwindled its length was reduced from 10 days down to three or four.

Popular culture

  • The 1952 drama film Derby Day, directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Michael Wilding and Anna Neagle, is set entirely round the Epsom Derby.
  • Records

    Leading jockey (9 wins):

  • Lester Piggott – Never Say Die (1954), Crepello (1957), St. Paddy (1960), Sir Ivor (1968), Nijinsky (1970), Roberto (1972), Empery (1976), The Minstrel (1977), Teenoso (1983)
  • Leading trainer (7 wins):

  • Robert Robson – Waxy (1793), Tyrant (1802), Pope (1809), Whalebone (1810), Whisker (1815), Azor (1817), Emilius (1823)
  • John Porter – Blue Gown (1868), Shotover (1882), St. Blaise (1883), Ormonde (1886), Sainfoin (1890), Common (1891), Flying Fox (1899)
  • Fred Darling – Captain Cuttle (1922), Manna (1925), Coronach (1926), Cameronian (1931), Bois Roussel (1938), Pont l'Eveque (1940), Owen Tudor (1941)
  • Leading owner (6 wins): (includes part ownership)

  • Sue Magnier - Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Pour Moi (2011), Camelot (2012), Ruler Of The World (2013), Australia (2014)
  • Michael Tabor - Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Pour Moi (2011), Camelot (2012), Ruler Of The World (2013), Australia (2014)
  • Dams of two winners:

  • Flyer (Rhadamanthus and Daedalus)
  • Highflyer mare, known as Eagle's Dam, (Didelot and Spread Eagle)
  • Horatia (Archduke and Paris)
  • Arethusa (Ditto and Pan)
  • Penelope (Whalebone and Whisker)
  • Canopus mare (Lap-dog and Spaniel)
  • Emma (Mündig and Cotherstone)
  • Morganette (Galtee More and Ard Patrick)
  • Perdita II (Persimmon and Diamond Jubilee)
  • Windmill Girl (Blakeney and Morston)
  • Urban Sea (Galileo and Sea the Stars)
  • Fastest winning time (at Epsom) – 2m 31.33s, Workforce (2010)
  • Widest winning margin – 10 lengths, Shergar (1981)
  • Longest odds winners – Jeddah (1898), Signorinetta (1908), Aboyeur (1913), 100/1
  • Shortest odds winner – Ladas (1894), 2/9
  • Most runners – 34 (1862)
  • Fewest runners – 4 (1794)
  • Winners

    a Winning distances are shown in lengths or shorter (dh = dead-heat; shd = short-head; hd = head; snk = short-neck; nk = neck)
    b The 1828 race finished as a dead-heat, but Cadland won a run-off against The Colonel by ½ length
    c d The 1844 and 1913 winners were awarded victory after the disqualification of the first-placed horse


  • 1805: One of the horses was brought down by a spectator.
  • 1825: Middleton didn't start before or after winning the Derby.
  • 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 was struck by King George V's horse, Anmer, she died four days later.
  • 1916: Fifinella, who also won the Oaks, is the most recent (as of 2016) 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 (as of 2016) of four 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.
  • 1960: Although there had been an experimental TV transmission of the race in the early 1930s, regular television coverage of the Derby began this year, initially on both BBC and ITV.
  • 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 lady jockey to ride in the race. She finished last of the 20 runners on the filly Portuguese Lil.
  • 1998: The most recent (as of 2016) filly to take part, the 1,000 Guineas winner Cape Verdi, started as 11/4 favourite but could only finish ninth.
  • 2006: Martin Dwyer's winning ride on Sir Percy subsequently won the Lester Award for "Flat Ride of the Year".
  • 2007: Authorized provided jockey Frankie Dettori with his first winner in the Derby after 14 previous attempts.
  • 2008: Jim Bolger, the trainer of the winner New Approach, had left the horse entered for the race "by mistake", having not initially intended to run.
  • 2010: Workforce broke the Epsom track record winning in the time 2m 31.33s previously held by Lammtarra who set it in 1995 at 2m 32.31s.
  • 2011: Pour Moi Jockey Mickael Barzalona celebrated before the finishline winning by just a head.
  • 2012: Aidan O'Brien and his 19-year-old son Joseph became the first father-son/trainer-jockey combination to win the race. Hayley Turner became the second lady jockey to ride in the race on Cavaleiro. Only nine horses went to post, lowest number since 1907.
  • 2014: Aidan O'Brien became the first person to train three consecutive winners of the race.
  • References

    Epsom Derby Wikipedia

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