History: First run 4th May 1780, named “The Derby Stakes” after the 12th Earl of Derby which is said to have been decided by the tossing of a coin. Had the it gone the other way this race could have been known as a “Bunbury”. Considering that the Derby distance of 12 furlongs has influenced racing all round the world and is considered the standard distance (2400m in metric) it is surprising to find the first 4 runnings of the race were over 1 mile or 8 furlongs (1600m). To finish the distance saga it was discovered in 1991 that the race was actually 10 yards longer than they thought it was. The list of owners includes royalty from several different countries, lords of the realm and captains of industry and many winning horses have become such famous sires they are the main driving force behind the worldwide thoroughbred breeding industry. Galopin winner of the 1875 Derby would be the sire of St Simon (who didn’t contest this race but raced 14 times for 14 wins) and then at stud became one of the most influential stallions of all time. From St Simon’s descendants such names as Hyperion, Nearco, Northern Dancer, Mill Reef, Sir Ivor (sire of Sir Tristram) Gallileo and High Chaparal. Spearmint winner of 1906 Derby was the son of Carbine (winner of the 1890 Melbourne Cup) was also a great Grandsire of Nearco, and sire to the 1920 winner Spion Kop.
Past Winners: Gladiateur 1865 (also Grand Prix De Paris, St Leger, Doncaster), Spearmint 1906 (Grand Prix De Paris), Hyperion 1933 (St Leger, Prince of Wales Stakes), Nijinsky 1970 (St Leger, Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe Irish Derby, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes), Mill Reef 1971 (Prix De L’Arc, King George & Q.E. Stakes).
Lead Up Form: The Dante Stakes has provided the most consistent lead up to the Derby. Recent winners Motivator 2005 and Authorized 2007 achieving the Double and 2010 winner Workforce coming off a 2nd in the Dante. The Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial has also been a good guide with Sinndar, Galileo and High Chaparral winning both.
Related Races: Provides good lead up form for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes in July.
Statistics: Only 6 fillies have won the Derby, the last being Fifinella in 1916. Lester Piggott registered his first win in 1954 and his ninth 30 years later in 1983. Frankie Dettori had 14 tries before winning in 2007. Winners can come from almost anywhere as the race attracts the best 3yr olds from around the racing world. There has even been a Kentucky Derby/Epsom Derby Winner.
Betting at Epsom Downs, including the Epsom Derby, is available online at Sportsbet.com.au.
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