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The Investec Derby

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History

The richest, most prestigious Classic of the British Flat season and often referred to as the ‘Blue Riband’ of the turf, the Investec Derby is run at Epsom Downs over an undulating one mile, four furlongs and 10 yards (2,400 metres), in early June.

It is open to three-year-old colts and fillies, though as with the 2000 Guineas, fillies very rarely run.  They have the Investec Oaks over the same course and distance reserved for them the previous day. Workforce produced a blistering finish as well as a record winning time to take the 2010 Investec Derby, sealing a Classic double for jockey Ryan Moore, who had won The Investec Oaks 24 hours earlier. Workforce, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, stormed past 100-1 shot At First Sight to win by seven lengths. The race was watched by a crowd of more than 100,000.

Three Irish jockeys stand out in recent years, Kieren Fallon, Johnny Murtagh and Michael Kinane, all claiming three Derbys. Add all their wins together and you get evergreen Lester Piggott’s Derby roll of honour – nine wins over 29 years. Kinane had the honour in 2009 of riding home on Sea The Stars, regarded by many as one of the best European thoroughbreds of all time.

Aidan O’Brien became the only trainer to win the race three times in a row (2012-14) and in 2019 achieved a record-equalling seventh success.

The Derby was first run in 1780, a year after the inaugural Oaks. The 12th Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury, the Senior Steward of the Jockey Club, are said to have tossed a coin to decide who the race should be named after, although Bunbury probably deferred to his host. The widest winning margin was recorded by the ill-fated Shergar during his 10-length triumph in 1981.

Current leading jockeys: Frankie Dettori, 2 wins (2007 and 2015); Ryan Moore 2 wins (2010 and 2015).
Current leading trainer: Aidan O’Brien, 7 wins (2001, 2002, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2019)

Previous winners

Year Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Prize money

Entries

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No/Draw Horse/Jockey Age Form/Type BHA Rating Weight Trainer Odds

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Anthony Van Dyck gives Aidan O’Brien more Derby delight

Anthony Dan Dyck provided Aidan O’Brien with a record-equalling seventh victory in the Investec Derby at Epsom.

Eighteen years on from his first triumph in the premier Classic with Galileo, the County Tipperary trainer saddled no fewer than seven of the 13 runners in the QIPCO British Champions Series contest, with the previously unbeaten Sir Dragonet heading the market at 11-4 after being supplemented earlier in the week.

Anthony Van Dyck – a three-time winner as a two-year-old – earned his shot at Derby glory with an impressive comeback victory in the Lingfield Derby Trial three weeks ago and was also prominent in the betting at 13-2, following support in the minutes leading up to the race.

Seamie Heffernan’s mount raced in mid-division for much of the way, and still had more horses ahead of him than behind inside the final quarter-mile

Sir Dragonet and Madhmoon – trained by the 86-year-old Kevin Prendergast – were disputing the lead racing inside the final furlong, but Anthony Dan Dyck darted up the inside of the pair and galloped on strongly against the far rail.

Madhmoon boxed on for second to deny O’Brien a clean sweep, with another Ballydoyle inmate in Japan flying home to finish third, ahead of his stable companions Broome and Sir Dragonet in fourth and fifth respectively.

O’Brien said: “We are so privileged to be a small part of this, all of these people that put so much in on a daily, weekly and yearly basis.  I can’t tell you how delighted I am – they all came down the straight together and we still weren’t second! it just goes to show how competitive it is, Kevin’s horse ran an unbelievable race – he had his horse in unbelievable shape.

“I am so delighted for Seamus, and it is a dream come true to win any of these races. They are so tough to win every year. That is why we run so many horses, we always feel they are bred, reared and we try and keep them sound to compete in this race. It is the ultimate test in every way, it tests their speed, their stamina and then their mentality as well.

“John [Magnier] always says it is the ultimate test of the thoroughbred and that is why we come here and try and compete every year It is very tough and I can’t tell you how privileged we are.

“Seamus is an unbelievable fella, he is a world-class jockey, always has been, we’ve known each other a long time, before we went to Ballydoyle we worked together. Every day, day in and day out, he puts it all in, he is really experienced as a horseman and jockey he is second to none. And as a fella – we are so delighted for him.”

Heffernan – who was handed a two-day ban for careless riding – said: ” “Anthony Van Dyck is an uncomplicated horse, I was always happy, I decided to go down the inside, I needed a bit of luck and he came back on the bridle and switched in.

“I got beaten on the favourite [Fame And Glory, 2009] one year, then came out the following and finished second on a 150/1 shot, Aidan’s horses are capable of running above of what people think.”

Results

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The Course

If it weren’t for the 12th Earl of Derby, perhaps Epsom would be best known for natural mineral water, London commuters or bath salts. That or the fact that Led Zepplin’s Jimmy Page came from the Surrey town. As it is, Epsom stands for horseracing, and the Investec Oaks and the Investec Derby in particular.

The earl invited his friends to race their fillies on the Epsom Downs in 1779 and thus The Oaks was born. A year later and a second race, for colts and fillies, was introduced. A toss of a coin and it became known as The Derby (if the earl’s friend, Sir Charles Bunbury, had called right then flat racing’s Blue Riband event might today be called ‘The Epsom Bunbury’).

The racecourse has witnessed some of the sport’s most glorious moments, with Nijinsky, Mill Reef and Shergar among the horses to enter the winner’s enclosure. It has also seen tragedy, however, when suffragette Emily Davison threw herself in front of King George V’s horse Anmer in 1913 and died of a fractured skull.

Getting there

Epsom Downs
KT18 5LQ

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