Epsom Derby History

The Epsom Derby is one of the most famous horse races in the world which has been in existence since 1780. It is named after one of horse racing's great supporters of the day, The 12th Earl of Derby, who actually won the race with his Sir Peter Teazle in 1787. The first ever winner was a horse called Diomed, owned by Sir Charles Bunbury, the then Steward of the Jockey Club.

Originally the race was run over just 1 mile, but was moved up to a mile and a half in 1784 and has been raced at that distance ever since. In 1991, the Derby and Oaks course at Epsom was re-measured where it was discovered that it was actually 10 yards longer than it should have been.

The Derby is the 'Blue Riband' of the five Group One, English Classic, that are raced each season, the complete list is as follows:

  • 1000 Guineas
  • 2000 Guineas
  • The Derby
  • The Oaks
  • The St Leger

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Needless to say the race has produced a whole list of fantastic winners, some of which can rightly be described as flat legends, none more so that last year's winner, Sea The Stars, who had already won the 2000 Guineas a month before, but who then went on to win five further Group One races, including the most prestigious race in Europe, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe last October.

Just some of the more recent Derby legends who have won both the Derby and the 'Arc' are:

  • Sea The Stars - 2009
  • Sinndar - 2000
  • Lammtarra - 1994
  • Mill Reef - 1971

It is not just the horses of course who have become legends in the long history of the Derby, but jockeys and trainers also. The jockey with the most Derby wins has been regarded as legendary for many years; Lester Piggott won the race an incredible nine times, while the most successful trainers have been Roberts Robson, John Porter and Fred Darling all with seven wins.

The fastest winning time of the race was recorded by the Sir Michael Stoute trained, Workforce, with a time of 2mins, 31.33 seconds. While the biggest winning margin was set by ill fated, Shergar who won the race by a massive 10 lengths in 1981.

Irish trained horses have become very successful at Epsom in recent years, with five wins in the last ten renewals, including Sea The Stars last year who became trainer, John Oxx's second winner of the race.

Although the race is open to fillies, few participate, and none have won since 1916, when Fifinella completed a remarkable Oaks/Derby double. The last filly to try was Cape Verdi in 1998, but she could only manage 9th place. Female jockeys too have been few and far between, with the only ever participant Alex Greaves finishing last in 1996.

In 2012 Aidan O'Brien and his son Joseph became the first father/son to train/ride the Derby winner with odds on favourite Camelot.

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