THE WOODCOTE STAKES
A race titled the Woodcot Stakes, was first run at Epsom in 1794. Open to two-year-olds, and run over the last half-mile of the Derby Course, colt’s carried 8st 0lb and fillies 7st 11lb.
The first winner was Mr Rutter’s, Filly by Dungannon, a son of Eclipse. The race continued to its last running in 1799, when Mr Dawson’s Jack-a-Lantern by Meteor (another son of Eclipse), beat four rivals.
The race was not run between 1800 and 1806, but continued from 1807 (the inaugural date of the race given in early editions of Ruff’s Guide to the Turf), when won by Mr Lake’s filly, Marybella by Walnut.
In 1837, the race name changed from Woodcot to Woodcote Stakes, but in1839, with colts 8st 6lb and fillies 8st 3lb, the distance was extended to six furlongs and run over the new two-year-course – an off-shoot taking them down to Tattenham Corner, and still the present course.
Due to the two World Wars the race was not run from 1915 to 1918, or in 1940, or from 1942 to 1945. However, in 1941, the race was run at Newbury as the Woodcote Plate and won by Ujiji.
The race, although boasting an illustrious roll of honour in the Victorian era, has sadly, had very few Classic winners since, the last being Lerins, renamed My Babu and winner of the 1947 2,000 Guineas. The other Classic winners are tabled below.
Lord Clifden (1863 St Leger)
Fille de l’Air (1864 Oaks)
Achievement (1867 1,000 Guineas, St Leger)
Cremorne (1872 Derby)
Surefoot (1890 2,000 Guineas)
Ladas (1894 2,000 Guineas, Derby)
Chelandry (1897 1,000 Guineas)
Sceptre (1902 2,000 Guineas, 1,000 Guineas, Oaks, St Leger)
Rock Sand (1903 2,000 Guineas, Derby, St Leger)
Cicero (1905 Derby)
Humorist (1921 Derby)
Dastur (2nd in 1932 2,000 Guineas, Derby, St Leger)
However, perhaps the greatest winner of the Woodcote Stakes was The Tetrarch in 1913. Drawn on the outside and ridden by Steve Donoghue, he was fast away, crossed to the rails and after blitzing the field was eased down, to set a new Course record time of 1 min. 7.60 sec.
A light grey with dark spots, the press called him “The Spotted Wonder.” He was never beaten, but due to injury, ran only as a two-year-old. When put to stud he confounded breeders by siring three St Leger winners and the speedy 2,000 Guineas winner, Tetratema. The Tetrarch was Champion Sire in 1919.
The Woodcote Stakes was a Listed race prior to 2017, when it was downgraded to a Conditions race and run as the first race of the Derby Festival. The race has been generously sponsored by Cazoo since 2021.