Archive for the ‘Racing Blog Posts’ Category

The Darley Arabian

Posted on:

The Darley Arabian

The Darley Arabian, was a handsome bay colt with a large white blaze and three white feet (the off-foreleg bay). Born in 1700, he stood 15 hands high.

Thomas Darley, the agent of an English mercantile company in Aleppo, Syria and, a member of a local hunting club, he purchased the colt, then two years old, for a very moderate sum.

Eighteen months later, he shipped him to his father, Richard Darley, to stand at Buttercrambe, now called Aldby Park, near York. After Richard Darley died in 1706, his eldest son Henry succeeded to Aldby and became owner of the Darley Arabian.

Both the sire and dam of the Darley Arabian belonged to the perfect Arabian strain of Managhi (also spelt Mannicka and Manicha).

The Darley Arabian was Champion Sire in 1722. His most important progeny were: Flying Childers (b.c. 1714), the first truly great racehorse and Champion Sire of 1730 and 1736, and his older brother, the unraced Bartlet’s Childers (b.c. 1716), who became Champion Sire in 1742.

His other important descendants were Eclipse (ch.c. 1764), winner of all his 18 races and from whom 97% of all thoroughbreds racing today descend; Pot-8-o’s (ch.c. 1773), sire of three Derby winners, incl. the Champion Sire, Waxy (b.c.1790), whose son Whalebone (br.c. 1807) emulated his father and perpetuated the line.

See below the sire-line  of the Darley Arabian. The colts are in Red, fillies in Green. Classic winners have date of victory in CAPS.

Key to Classics: Derby  (D); Oaks (O); St Leger (L); 2000 Guineas (2); 1000 Guineas (1); stars either side indicate Champion Sire.



The Byerley Turk

Posted on:


 The Byerley Turk, a brown colt  born c1684, was taken from the Turkish Army at Buda in 1687, where obtained by Captain Robert Byerley of County Durham, who rode him at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. When the promoted Colonel Byerley retired from military service, the Byerley Turk, now thought to be an Arabian from all available portraits, was sent to stud, first at Midridge Grange, then from 1697, he stood at Goldsborough Hall, Knavesborough in Yorkshire.

His Notable Progeny were:

JIGG (Sir R. Mostyn’s) -.c. c1701 ex daughter of SPANKER. Sire of PARTNER ch.c. 1718, won 4 races and four times Champion Sire within 1737-1743.

BASTO (Sir W. Ramsden’s) b.c. 1703 ex BAY PEG by LEEDES ARABIAN. Ran only at Newmarket, where on separate occasions he beat SQUIRREL, BILLY, CHANCE, TANTIVY and BRISK over four miles or longer.

Also ARCHER (Duke of Rutland’s); BLACK HEARTY (Duke of Rutland’s); GRASSHOPPER -.c. c1695, won Town Plate, Nottingham and SPRITE (Duke of Kingston’s).

Famous descendants of the Byerley Turk include HEROD. HIGHFLYER and SIR PETER TEAZLE – In total Champion Sires for 31 years, the latter winning the Derby for the 12th Earl of Derby.



The colts are in Red, fillies in Green. Classic winners have date of victory in CAPS. Key to Classics: 2000 Guineas (2); 1000 Guineas (1); Derby (D); Oaks (O); St Leger (L); stars either side indicate Champion Sire.

The Godolphin Arabian

Posted on:

The Godolphin Arabian


Registered first as an Arabian in the General Stud-Book 1791, and Pick, 1803. Volume I General Stud Book 1808 (page 516) states:

“That he was a genuine Arabian, his excellence as a Stallion is deemed a sufficient proof.”

THE Godolphin Arabian was foaled in the Yemen in 1724 (from Jilfan blood). A brown bay colt, with a little white on his off hind heel, and standing 14.3 hands high, he was exported via Syria to Tunis, as one of four horses to be presented by the Bey of Tunis to the King of France.Three of these were taken to the Brittany forests and turned out to improve the local stock. The fourth horse, the Godolphin Arabian, is popularly believed to have drawn a cart through the streets of Paris, where the Englishman, Edward Coke, is said to have purchased the six-year-old for £3. However, another source relates that Coke acquired the colt, via the French Court, through the Duke of Lorraine. Whichever version is true, Coke sent the horse to his estate at Longford Hall in Derbyshire.

When Edward Coke died in August 1733, aged only 32, he bequeathed his bloodstock to Roger Williams, the proprietor of the St James’s Coffee House in London, who also acted as a bloodstock agent. He then sold the Arabian, believed at the time to be named Shami, to Francis, 2nd Earl of Godolphin; the horse, thereafter, was known as the Godolphin Arabian.

Of the eye-witness accounts that survive, Vicomte de Manty, having seen the Arabian in France, described him as having “beautiful conformation, exquisitely proportioned with large hocks, well let down, with legs of iron…whose only flaw was being headstrong…his quarters broad in spite of being half starved, tail carried in true Arabian style”. His poor condition, referred to at the time, may have been due to his voyage from Tunis.

Later, in England, the well regarded author and veterinary surgeon William Osmer Wrote: ” There never was a well entitled to get racers as the Godolphin Arabian .. his shoulders were deeper, and lay farther into his back, than those of any horse yet seen. Behind the shoulders, there was but a very small space ere the muscles of his loins rose exceedingly high, broad, and expanded, which were inserted into his quarters with greater strength and power than in any horse…yet seen.”

There is no record of the Godolphin Arabian having ever raced; neither are there any details of his pedigree. At stud, however, he was an outstanding success, and, despite only siring about 80 foals in a stud career lasting 22 years, he was Champion Sire three times (1738, 1745 and 1747). Amongst his mates was the well-bred Roxana (born 1718), by the Champion Sire, Bald Galloway out of a sister to Chanter, who produced only three foals, two of them to the Godolphin Arabian: Lath (b.c.1732), who was unbeaten, and thought to be the best horse seen at Newmarket since Flying Childers (1715); and Cade (b.c. 1734), winner of a King’s Plate at Newmarket. Sadly, Roxana died two weeks after foaling Cade, who had to be reared with cow’s milk.

Later, three sons of the Godolphin Arabian dominated the sires’ list for almost 20 years: Cade, was Champion Sire five times; Regulus (b.c. 1739), eight times and Blank (b.c. 1740), three times. However, it was Cade’s son Matchem (b.c. 1748) who perpetuated the sire-line, winning eight races and being Champion Sire three consecutive years from 1772.

The Godolphin Arabian died at Gog Magog, near Cambridge, in December 1753, aged 29 years. He was given a wake with cakes and ale, and solemnly buried under a gateway at the stable. A stone slab marked his gravesite, which still exists today, within the Wandlebury Ring.

The lasting influence of the Godolphin Arabian in the pedigrees of the following generations can be gauged by the fact that, 50 years after his death, every one of the first 76 British Classic winners had at least one strain of him in their pedigree. Also, all but three of the 115 mares born in or before 1803 who went on to become dams of Classic winners, had also inherited the Godolphin’s genes.

See below the lineage chart of the Godolphin Arabian. Colts are in Red, fillies in Green. Classic winners with date of victory in CAPS.

Key to races won: 2000 Guineas (2); 1000 Guineas (1);  Derby  (D); Oaks (O); St Leger (L); King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (K); Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (A); while stars either side indicate Champion Sire.



Lady James Douglas – Trailblazer

Posted on:

Lady James Douglas – Trailblazer

This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of Lady James Douglas’s achievement of being the first woman to own and bred an Oaks winner – Bayuda in 1919; this, a year after she became the first woman to own and bred a Derby winner – Gainsborough – a Triple Crown winner to boot.

Born in France in 1854, Martha Lucy Hennessey was the daughter of Frederick Hennessey, a member of the Irish Hennessey’s who had made their fortune from producing Cognac.

The mother of five children she was twice widowed before buying the Harwood Estate, near Newbury, in 1910. Seeking advice from her neighbour, the celebrated trainer, John Porter of Kingsclere, she set about founding Harwood Stud with the purpose of producing high quality yearlings for the sales.

After a slow start due to the Great War, the success of Gainsborough was followed by the filly, Bayuda. Sired by the St Leger winner, Bayardo, out of Jessica, a mare that bred nine winners, much was expected from Bayuda. She did not disappoint. In the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket, she ran a close second to the season’s top juvenile, The Panther, and followed up by winning the Cheveley Park Stakes in a canter.

However, after two moderate performances against the colts and a disappointing three-year-old debut in the One Thousand Guineas, behind Roseway, she was allowed to start at 100-7 for the Oaks. Two furlongs out Roseway took up the running, but the diminutive Bayuda, showing her breeding to stay on strongly and win by one and a half lengths.

Sadly, at stud, she proved difficult to get in foal and produced only one winner from two live foals. However, Lady James was not done with yet and bred the 1930 Oaks winner, Rose of England, for Lord Glanely.

In 1940, due to ill-health, Lady James Douglas sold her mares. Her Harwood Stud was bought by Mr Herbert Blagrave on condition Gainsborough ended his days there.

Lady James died in 1941.

Gainsborough (Joe Childs up) the 1918 Triple Crown winner

See below the lineage chart for the sire-line and progeny of Gainsborough.

Classic winners with date of victory in CAPS – colts in Red, fillies in Green.

Stars either side indicate Champion Sire.

The 2019 Investec Oaks – Anapurna

Posted on:


RUN on Friday, 31 May, 2019, as the Investec Oaks, over the Derby Course of one mile and a half and 6 yards, Epsom Downs. For three-year-old fillies, 9st 0lb. Value to winner £297,727.

1st   ANAPURNA             Frankie Dettori    8-1

2nd  PINK DOGWOOD    Ryan Moore        3-1

3rd  FLEETING                 Wayne Lordan    25-1

Distances: a neck and 1¼  lengths

Also ran: 4th Manuela De Vega (Harry Bentley) 16-1; Delphinia (Seamie Heffernan) 66-1; Frankellina (James Doyle) 12-1; Mehdaayih (Robert Havlin) 11-4 Fav; Maqsad (Jim Crowley) 4-1; Blue Gardenia (Jamie Spencer) 100-1; Peach Tree (Donnacha O’Brien) 33-1;Tarnawa (Chris Hayes)  20-1: Tauteke (Andrea Atzeni) 25-1; Sh Boom (Tom Queally) 100-1; Lavender’s Blue (Silvestre de Sousa)  16-1 (tailed off). 

Commentary: An intriguing renewal, the first four in the market all having won their established trials: Mehdaayih 11-4 favourite, following an impressive Cheshire Oaks performance and the need to be supplemented; Pink Dogwood a solid 3-1 and Ryan Moore’s pick of the Aidan O’Brien quartet from taking the Salsabil Stakes; Maqsad 4-1, after her victory in Newmarket’s Pretty Polly Stakes and the John Gosden trained, Frankel filly, Anapurna, the choice of Frankie Dettori and now 8-1, following her six-length victory over Tauteke in the Lingfield Oaks trial.

From the stalls, Peach Tree, Tauteke, Lavender’s Blue and Anapurna fronted the field. On settling down, Lavender’s Blue and Peach Tree took them along from Anapurna and Tauteke. With a steady pace down to Tattenham Corner and racing in pairs, Delphinia and Maqsad waited behind the front four.

Into the straight, the pace increased to two furlongs out, where Pink Dogwood, made rapid headway on the outside to join a line of four – Maqsad, Tauteke, Peach Tree and Anapurna (rails). Then, forging ahead inside the final furlong, he was joined and finally outstayed by Anapurna in a thrilling finish. Fleeting, with Wayne Lordan aboard, came from last in the straight, to finish third.

Notably, this was Frankel’s first Classic winner and Dettori’s fifth Oaks, 25 years on from his first, Balanchine in 1994. An extra 12 yards had been added to the distance to protect the ground on the inner rail for Derby day.     

14 ran.

2 min. 36.09 sec.                                                                                                                                                   

BRED by Meon Valley Stud.

OWNED by Helena Springfield Ltd.

TRAINED by John Gosden at Newmarket, Suffolk.


The winner, ANAPURNA, inbred 3 x 3 to SADLER’S WELLS, has won 3 races from her 4 starts, incl. the Racebets Oaks Trial Fillies Stakes, Lingfield and the Investec Oaks Stakes.   

The sire, FRANKEL b.c. 2008 ex KIND by DANEHILL, (unbeaten), won 14 races incl. Two Thousand Guineas Stakes, St James’s Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes, (twice), Queen Anne Stakes, International Stakes, York, Champion Stakes. Sire of 7 Group 1 winners since retiring to Judmonte’s Banstead Manor Stud in 2013, of which ANAPURNA is his first Classic winner.

The dam, DASH TO THE TOP b.f. 2002 by MONTJEU ex MILLENIUM DASH, won 2 races from 8 starts incl. EBF Hoppings Stakes, Newcastle. Second in Yorkshire Oaks. She is the dam of 4 other winners and descends from One In A Million, winner of the 1979 1,000 Guineas.


See Michael’s list of “Books for Sale” from the banner heading


The 2019 Investec Derby – Anthony Van Dyck

Posted on:


Run on Saturday, 1 June, 2019 as the Investec Derby Stakes over the Derby Course of one mile and a half and 6 yards, Epsom Downs. For three-year-olds; entire colts 9st 0lb, fillies 8st 11lb. 355 entries. Value to winner £921,537.

1st ANTHONY VAN DYCK   Seamie Heffernan 13-2

2nd MADHMOON            Chris Hayes           10-1

3rd JAPAN                         Wayne Lordan       20-1

Distances: won by 1/2 length and a nose.

 Also ran: 4th Broome (Donnacha O’Brien) 4-1; Sir Dragonet (Ryan Moore) 11-4 Fav; Circus Maximus (Frankie Dettori) 10-1; Humanitarian (Robert Havlin) 33-1: Norway (Jamie Spencer) 33-1; Line Of Duty (James Doyle) 25-1; Sovereign (P.B Beggy) 50-1; Hiroshima (Brett Doyle) 100-1; Bangkok (Silvestre de Sousa) 9-1; Telecaster (Oisin Murphy) 5-1 (tailed off, last).

Commentary: As the choice of Ryan Moore from Aidan O’Brien’s seven runners, Sir Dragonet, eight-length winner of the Chester Vase, headed the betting at 11-4. Remarkably, he was the only horse in the field without Galileo in his pedigree. The first five in the betting were all sired by Derby winners and all had won their previous race: Broome 4-1(Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial), Telecaster 5-1 (Dante Stakes), Anthony Van Dyck 13-2 (Lingfield Derby Trial) and Bangkok 9-1 (Sandown Classic Trial).

On a sunny day, the field got under way on good to firm ground. Sovereign cut out the pace and after two furlongs led by two lengths from Norway, Telecaster and Circus Maximus, while Broome and Humanitarian, having missed the break, remained at the rear. Approaching the mile-marker, Sovereign, keeping up the pace, led by two lengths from Norway, Circus Maximus and Telecaster.

Down the hill, round Tattenham Corner and into the straight there was little change, until two furlongs out, when Ryan Moore sent Sir Dragonet to the front. Immediately challenged by Madhmoon, the pair battled to the furlong pole, where Madhmoon nosed ahead. Meanwhile, Heffernan switched Anthony Van Dyck to the rails, with Broome and Japan closing fast on the wide outside. Anthony Van Dyck then benefitting from the space and the rail, pressed on to win by a half-length. The four-strong chasing pack of Madhmoon, Japan, Broome and Sir Dragonet were covered by a nose and two short heads. The victory gave Aidan O’Brien his seventh Derby winner, equalling the feat of Robert Robson, John Porter and Fred Darling, and for Mrs John (Sue) Magnier and Michael Tabor, Anthony Van Dyck was their record eighth Derby winner.

13 ran. Time 2 min 33.38 sec.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

BRED by Orpendale, Chelston & Wynatt.

OWNED by  Mrs John Magnier, Mr M Tabor & Derrick Smith.

TRAINED by A P O’Brien at Cashel, Co Tipperary.     


The winner, ANTHONY VAN DYCK, had won 5 races (from 9 starts), incl. Galileo Irish EBF Futurity Stakes, The Curragh, RaceBets Derby Trial Stakes, Lingfield, Investec Derby Stakes.

The sire, GALILEO b.c. 1998 by SADLER’S WELLS ex URBAN SEA, won 6 races (from 8 starts) incl. Ballysax Stakes & Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes, Leopardstown, Vodafone Derby Stakes, Budweiser Irish Derby, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, Champion Sire in G.B. & Ireland ten times – 2008 & 2010-2018. Sire of NEW APPROACH ch.c. 2005 ex PARK EXPRESS by AHONOORA, won  Dewhurst Stakes, Vodafone Derby Stakes, Irish Champion Stakes, Champion Stakes (Course record time), Newmarket; FRANKEL b.c. 2008 ex KIND by DANEHILL, (unbeaten) won Dewhurst Stakes, Two Thousand Guineas Stakes, St James’s Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes, (twice), Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Lockinge Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes, International Stakes, York, Champion Stakes; RULER OF THE WORLD ch.c. 2010 ex LOVE ME TRUE by KINGMAMBO, won Chester Vase, Investec Derby Stakes, Prix Foy; AUSTRALIA ch.c. 2011 ex OUIJA BOARD by CAPE CROSS, won Investec Derby Stakes, Irish Derby, International Stakes, York.

The dam, BELIEVE’N’SUCCEED b.f. 2005 by EXCEED AND EXCEL ex ARCTIC DRIFT, ran twice in Australia without being placed. She has bred 2 winners from 4 runners, incl. her first foal BOUNDING b.f. 2010 by LONHRO, a Champion sprinter in New Zealand, where she won 5 races incl. Railway Stakes, Ellerslie.


See Michael’s list of “Books for Sale” from the banner heading

Grand Parade wins the 1919 Peace Derby

Posted on:

Grand Parade wins the 1919 Peace Derby

This year celebrates the one hundredth anniversary of the Peace Derby won by the appropriately named Grand Parade.

The Great War (1914-1918) now over, the Derby returned to Epsom and an enormous crowd gathered in the presence of King George V and Queen Mary; the Royal party receiving the biggest cheer of the day, when the King’s colt, Viceroy, won the Stewards Handicap.

Notably, this year, the course around Tattenham Corner was made more gradual, with the outer rail supported with a wire fence to prevent a reoccurrence of the previous suffragette incident.

Thirteen went to post for the Derby, with the Two Thousand Guineas winner, The Panther, a heavily backed 6-5 favourite. The second and third in the Guineas, Lord Astor’s Buchan and Lord Glanely’s first string, Dominion, started at 7-1 and 100-9 respectively. Grand Parade, winner of the National Produce Stakes at The Curragh, had little support at 33-1.

Paper Money set the pace, leading at the mile post from Dominion and Grand Parade, and was still in front at the distance. At this point Grand Parade and then Buchan stormed by, but with Buchan hanging left, Fred Templeman was able to drive Grand Parade on to a half-length victory. Paper Money finished two lengths away third, with Sir Douglas fourth and Tangiers fifth.

Lord Glanely leads in Grand Parade

Grand Parade was only the second black horse to win the Derby, Smolensko being the first in 1813. Bred by the infamous American politician Richard ‘Boss’ Croker, Grand Parade was by the 1907 Derby winner Orby out of the unraced filly, Grand Geraldine.

At the end of the season Grand Parade retired to his owner’s stud at Exning at a fee of 400 guineas. His best colt was Diophon, who won the 1924 Two Thousand Guineas and sired Diolite, the winner of that race in 1930. On 1 May, 1932 Grand Parade broke a leg and was destroyed. He was 16 years old.

Buchan, second in the Derby, won 11 races, including the Princess of Wales’s Stakes, the Eclipse Stakes (twice) and the Champion Stakes. He was Champion Sire in 1927 and sired the Classic winning fillies, Short Story (1926 Oaks) and Book Law (1927 St Leger).

The Panther, on his toes in the paddock and upset at the start, charged the tapes on his arrival and after refusing to line up, lost vital lengths at the start and half the country their money! Later that year he was sold and sent to the Argentine Republic.

Arthur Smith, the apprentice who had preferred to ride Dominion to Grand Parade, later set a record for an apprentice at Royal Ascot that year by riding five winners.


Grand Parade’s owner, The 1st Baron Glanely (1868-1942), a big man with a walrus moustache, was popularly known on the racecourse as ‘Old Guts and Gaiters’. Notably, he made the transition from shipping clerk to owning the company through hard work and a flair for business. Fervently patriotic, his colours were ‘black jacket, red, white and blue belt (diagonal) and cap’. He owned six Classic winners, including Rose of England (1930 Oaks). Baron Glanely was killed in an air-raid in 1942.



See Michael’s list of “Books for Sale” from the banner heading

The First Derby Photo-finish

Posted on:


This year marks the 70th anniversary of the first Derby decided by the new photo-finish camera. The print, which took many minutes to develop, was called for by the judge, Mr Malcolm Hancock, to decide a three-horse finish, fought out between Nimbus, winner of the 2,000 Guineas, ridden by Charlie Elliott, Amour Drake, forth in the Guineas and winner of the French equivalent, with Rae Johnstone up and Lord Derby’s Swallow Tail, winner of the Chester Vase, with Doug Smith aboard – bookmakers taking advantage of the delay by laying prices on all three.

These were days before racecourse commentaries and crackly Tannoys, and so, after what seemed an interminably long wait and with around 400,000 pairs of eyes trained on the number board, the numbers 13, Nimbus; 26 Amour Drake and 9, Swallow Tail, were hoisted aloft. The distances were a head and the same.

A post-mortem on the last 60 yards of the race occupied the press for days. However, without the use of Camera Patrol, no inquiry was held by the stewards and the result stood.

The first Derby photo-finish print, showing NIMBUS beating Amour Drake by a head, with Swallow Tail a head away third

Sadly, there was a sub-plot to this year’s Derby.

At the Second July Sales at Newmarket, trainer George Colling paid 5,000 guineas (£200,000 today), for the William Hill bred, handsome bay yearling, Nimbus, on behalf of Henry Glenister, who gave the colt to his wife Marion.

Interestingly, Glenister liked to declare his occupation as a farmer, which in fact he was, farming 700 acres at Sible Hedingham in Essex. What he rarely disclosed, was that he was employed as the Assistant Manager of the London Branch of the Midland Bank Executor and Trustee Company in the City of London.

Tragically, Henry Glenister committed suicide in his car in Sussex, on August 16, 1952. Later, the inquest revealed that Glenister had defaulted on a ‘considerable sum’ entrusted to his department, although the extent of the fraud was never made public.

A more poignant end had taken place the day after the Derby, when Suzy Volterra returned to her dying husband in Paris.  Leon, owner of Amour Drake, whose health had suffered during wartime internment by the Germans, had been too ill to listen to the broadcast, and so, before his death, his wife allowed him to think his colt had won the Derby.



SEA-BIRD – The highest rated Derby winner of the 20th century

Posted on:





A bright chestnut colt with a white blaze and two hind stockings, Sea-Bird stood 16 hands. By Dan Cupid out of Sicalade by Sicambre, he was bred by his owner, Jean Ternynck, a French textile manufacturer, and trained by Etienne Pollet at Chantilly. Ternynck had previously won the 1,000 Guineas with Cameree in 1950, while Etienne Pollet, with never more than 50 horses in his stable, had already notched up three Classic winners:  Thunderhead (2,000 Guineas 1952), Never Too Late (1,000 Guineas and Oaks 1960) and Hula Dancer (1,000 Guineas 1963).

Sea-Bird ran three times as a juvenile, winning the Prix de Blaison at Chantilly and the Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte, both by a short neck. He then suffered his only defeat, when second to his preferred stablemate, Grey Dawn, in the Grand Criterium at Longchamp.

The following year, Sea-Bird won the Prix Greffulhe by three lengths and the Prix Lupin by six. When Pollet announced that Epsom was the plan, an avalanche of money followed and Sea-Bird became the overwhelming favourite for the Derby, shortening to 7-4 on the day. The remote market opposition was led by the Paddy Prendergast trained, Meadow Court at 10-1, previously second in the Dante Stakes, now ridden by Lester Piggott, and part-owned by Bing Crosby. Others supported were Niksar, winner of the Two Thousand Guineas, and Gulf Pearl, successful in the Chester Vase. 

On Wednesday, 2 June, 1965, a bright and sunny Derby Day, 22 runners lined up on good ground.  Suddenly, as the tapes went up Sea-Bird, already in the second row, was caught sideways on. Jockey, Pat Glennon, however, stayed calm and although last after the first 50 yards, threaded his way through to the top of the hill, where Sunacelli led Bam Royal, Niksar and Meadow Court. Rounding Tattenham Corner, Sunacelli continued to lead from Niksar and Gulf Pearl, followed by Meadow Court and I Say. However, once in the straight and passing the three-pole, I Say came out of the pack to take a three-lengths lead. But not for long, as Sea-Bird cruised up from sixth to challenge and then go on before the distance, easing down to win by two lengths in a canter. In the closing stages, Meadow Court ran on well to take second, ahead of I Say and Niksar. Seldom had a Derby been won with such complete, almost contemptuous, authority. 

Of the beaten runners, Meadow Court went on to win the Irish Sweeps Derby and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, I Say, won the Coronation Cup and Silly Season, the St James’s Palace Stakes and Champion Stakes.

After winning the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, Sea-Bird’s finale came in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. It was to be his finest performance, annihilating a top class field, to win by six lengths from Reliance (Prix du Jockey-Club and Grand Prix de Paris), with Diatome (future winner of the Washington D.C. International) a further five lengths away third. Further back in the 20-runner field, were the Russian champion Anilin, Tom Rolfe (Preakness Stakes), Blabla (Prix de Diane), and Meadow Court.

Assessed by Timeform as the highest rated Derby winner of the 20th century, Sea-Bird’s pedigree warrants examination. Interestingly, there is continued success from the sire-line’s first crops, for example: his sire, Dan Cupid, came from the first crop of Native Dancer; Sea-Bird came from the first crop of Dan Cupid and Gyr, from the first crop of Sea-Bird. Strangely, none of his first five dams won a race on the Flat.

Before the Arc, an American syndicate agreed to lease Sea-Bird at £95,000 a year for five years. So in 1966 he stood at John Galbreath’s Darby Dan Stud in Kentucky, where the contract was extended until late 1972, when Sea-Bird returned to France. Sadly, however, before his first European season started, he contracted colitis and died on 15 March, 1973.

His notable progeny included Gyr, winner of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and second to Nijinsky in the Derby; the outstanding filly, Allez France, winner of the 1974 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Little Current, successful in the 1974 Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

Never has a Champion been so sorely missed.


The History of the Investec Derby Trial

Posted on:

The History of the Investec Derby Trial

Cape Of Good Hope and Ryan Moore come in after winning the 2019 Investec Derby Trial, in the fastest time (2 m 6.28 sec), since the distance was extended in 1997.


Throughout the history of the race, however, Cracksman in 2017 (below), has proved to be the best winner of the trial since Blue Peter in 1939. Thereafter, finishing third in the Derby, second in the Irish Derby and winning a further six races including, the Prix Ganay, the Coronation Cup and Ascot’s Champion Stakes twice.


The Investec Derby Trial, started life in 1937, as the Blue Riband Trial Stakes and was first run at Epsom on Thursday, 22 April. The race superseded the Nonsuch Plate, named after Nonsuch Palace built for Henry VIII on the local village of Cuddington.

With the prizemoney doubled, the Blue Riband Trial Stakes, remained for three-year-olds, run over 1 mile and 110 yards. However, even with 8 runners it was far from competitive. Ali Pasha, a Tetratema colt, third in the Dewhurst Stakes and trained by Frank Butters at Newmarket, was the only horse for money and backed at all rates from 6-4 to 1-2.

In what amounted to a major upset, Printer, the 10-1 second favourite, ridden by Tommy Lowrey (of future Airborne fame), set off in front and stayed there. Ali Pasha did make a challenge but, meeting the rising ground was bumped and lost momentum.

Owned and bred by Mr J. P. Hornung, founder of the West Grinstead Stud and trained by Basil Jarvis at Newmarket, Printer had won the International Plate at Kempton, as a two-year-old. The appropriate gem regarding the Derby Trial, however, was that Printer was sired by Papyrus (1923 Derby) out of Appleby by Pommern (1915 Derby) – both Derby winners being ridden by Steve Donoghue. At the end of 1937, Printer was sold and sent to India.

Two years later, came the only winner of the Derby Trial, as yet, to win the Derby – Blue Peter.  Bred and owned by the 6th Earl of Rosebery, he took both the Two Thousand Guineas and Derby. Sadly, he was denied the Triple Crown when, due to the outbreak of War, the St Leger was cancelled. But once again, pedigree played its part. Sired by the St Leger winner and four-time Champion Sire, Fairway, he was out of Fancy Free, a mare who bred eight winners from nine foals.

Other good horses who have won the Derby Trial are Combat (1947 Sussex Stakes), Zucchero (1953 Coronation Cup), Premonition (1953 St Leger), Pitcairn (Champion Sire 1980), Roland Gardens (1978 2000 Guineas), Daliapour (2000 Coronation Cup), Debussy (2010 Arlington Million) and Cracksman (2017 Champion Stakes, Ascot, twice).

Finally, in 2012, the race was given a boost. Sponsored by Investec, it became the Investec Derby Trial, with currently £50,000 in prizemoney and a wildcard entry into the Investec Derby Stakes.