Since I’m reading a book entitled Derby Day, I’m doing this post as much for myself than for my readers. The book is less about the actual event than the people involved in it (unsavory characters at best). Even though I’ve been riding horses consistently since about 9 years old, I was never one to be quite knowledgeable on horse related facts (a travesty I’ve been trying to correct). As a self professed anglophile, I’m interested in all things relating horses to England. So, I did some research to try and find out why the Derby is so special. Hopefully I got it right, and I’m not portraying any inaccuracies (it is, after all, through the eyes of an American).
1779: first race recorded on the sight
It was organized by the 12 Earl of Derby, Edward Smith Stanley. He set it up for he and his friends, who all owned 3 year old fillies. The distance was approximately 1 1/2 miles. 1780 featured another race that included colts as well as fillies.
How did the race become called the Derby? Friend and horse racing fanatic Sir Charles Bunby tossed a coin with Derby to determine who would be the namesake of the race. Ironically, Bunby’s horse won.
The Derby race is one third of the British Triple Crown, which I find quite interesting, as I had no idea the Triple Crown existed other than in the United States! The British Triple Crown consists of these three races: The Derby, the St Leger, and the Two Thousand Guineas (quirky names, don’t you think?). I suppose now I’ll have to update my bucket list to seeing both the US and the UK Triple Crowns!
1927: the first Derby to be broadcast by BBC
Fun Fact: Emily Davidson, a suffragette, killed herself by throwing herself in front of King George V’s horse in 1913.
In 1779, no race was run unless it was less than 2 miles. No 3 year olds ran.
140 countries hold a Derby, but Epsom Downs remains the Home of the Derby.
One of the owners of the 2012 Derby winner, Camelot, said about the Derby: “To win the Epsom Derby is a dream come true.” The 2012 race began at the start of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The race occurred the 2nd of June.
http://www.epsomdowns.co.uk/racing/derby-history this is the link to the official Epson Downs website, if you want to learn more about the race!