The History of the Investec Derby Trial

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 The race superseded the Nonsuch Plate, named after Nonsuch Palace built for Henry VIII on the local village of Cuddington.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.











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