Top 10 most memorable moments at the Epsom Derby

The Queen at the 2012 Epsom Derby

The Queen at the 2012 Epsom Derby

First published in Sport
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With only two days to go until the Epsom Derby, we spoke to the organisers who came up with the top 10 most iconic Derby moments.

Do you agree? Leave your comments below to have your say.

1. Suffragette Emily Davison sustains fatal injuries after running on the track and bringing down King George V’s horse Anmer (1913)

Croydon Guardian: Emily Wilding Davison’s brutal death at the 1913 Derby

Davison stepped out in front of King George V’s horse, Anmer, at the 1913 Derby and died from the injuries she sustained four days later at the Old Cottage Hospital, in Alexandra Road, Epsom.

The teacher and governess, who was born in Blackheath, went to Oxford, and was a leading member of the Women’s Social and Political Union, an organisation founded by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903 to demand votes for women.

Debate continues as to whether Davison intended to become a martyr to the cause on Derby Day or if it was merely an attempt to raise awareness which went horribly wrong.

Some believe that her return ticket to London and the flags of the suffragette's colours in her possession, which they say she hoped to pin onto the King’s horse, suggest it was not an act of suicide.

2. Diomed wins the inaugural Derby (1780)

Yes that's right - the Epsom Derby has been going for ages and it spawned the name 'Derby' being associated with horse racing all over the world.

It is a Group 1 flat horse race in England open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies over a distance of one mile, four furlongs and 10 yards (2,423 metres).

It is Britain's richest horse race, and the most prestigious of the country's five Classics.

Croydon Guardian: Horse racing at the Epsom Derby in 2012

3.  West Australian wins and is the first of 15 Triple Crown winners (1853)

Winning a triple crown is the biggest achievement possible in flat racing. In the 150 year history of the English Triple Crown only 15 horses have won the 2,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and St Leger Stakes in a single season.

The most recent attempt at the British Triple Crown was made in 1989 when Nashwan won both the 2,000 guineas and the Epsom Derby, falling at the last hurdle when he was unable to win the St Leger Stakes. 

4. Never Say Die gives 18-year-old jockey Lester Piggott the first of his record nine Derby wins (1954)

It may difficult to think of Piggott as a bright-eyed 18-year-old with his career ahead of him. Imagine telling that 18-year-old he would go on to have 4,493 career wins, including an incredible nine victories at the Derby. He is rightly considered one of the greatest flat racing jockets of all time.

Croydon Guardian: Lester Piggott and Nijinsky

5. Sea-Bird, considered by many the greatest ever Derby winner, wins easily (1965)

Sea-Bird (1962–1973) was a French Thoroughbred racehorse and sire which in a year-long career he ran eight times and won seven races. Sea Bird is also famous for winning the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

6. Nijinsky wins (1970) 

Credit: Paco10AL (YouTube)

This legendary Canadian-bred horse was the outstanding two-year-old in Europe in 1969 when he was unbeaten in five races. In the following season he became the first horse for 35 years to win the English Triple Crown.

7. Shergar wins by a record 10 lengths (1981)

Shergar became a household name after being kidnapped in 1983. It was an Irish racehorse, and winner of the 202nd Epsom Derby by 10 lengths — the longest winning margin in the race's history.

Croydon Guardian: MISSING: Shergar was kidnapped in 1983

8. Shahrastani holds off the fast-finishing Dancing Brave in a thrilling finish (1986)

Born in 1983, Shahrastani (1983–2011) was an American-bred, British-trained Thoroughbred racehorse who won four of his seven races between September 1985 and October 1986.

He also won the Irish Derby by eight lengths and at the end of the season he was retired to stud, where he made little impact as a stallion. He died in 2011.

9. Pinza gives Sir Gordon Richards, Britain’s winning-most jockey of all-time, his first Derby victory (1953)

It was Sir Gordon's 28th and final ride in the race. The Queen’s horse Aureole came second in the Coronation year.

More about him in this video (featuring John McCririck)

Credit: Shalakhani (YouTube)

10. Lammtarra breaks the 59-year-old track record to take the Derby on his seasonal debut. (1995)

His record of 2m 32.31s stands until Workforce clocks 2m 31.33s in 2010.


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