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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.

Trainer Sir Michael Stoute, meanwhile, has also put his name to three winners since 2003 – to add to the two he won before he was a ‘Sir’. Jim Bolger arguably matches Stoute’s good fortune, however – he had intended to withdraw New Approach from the 2008 renewal but forgot. New Approach went on to win the race by half a length.

Aidan O’Brien matched Sir Michael Stoute’s record of five victories when the brilliant Australia was successful in 2014 and he became the only trainer to win the race three times in a row.

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: Kieren Fallon, 3 wins (1999, 2003-4)
Current leading trainer: Sir Michael Stoute, 5 wins (1981, 1986, 2003-4, 2010); Aidan O’Brien, 5 wins (2001, 2002, 2012, 2013, 2014)

Previous winners

Year Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Prize money

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Wings of Eagles swoops to surprise Investec Derby win

Wings Of Eagles was the thrilling winner of the 238th running of the Investec Derby at Epsom.

The 40-1 chance, one of six runners in the race for Aidan O’Brien, swooped in the closing stages of the premier Classic under Padraig Beggy to collar Cliffs Of Moher, his stablemate, who had looked certain to prevail half a furlong from home after mastering Frankel colts Cracksman, the favourite, and Eminent.

Just when Cliffs Of Moher looked to have the QIPCO British Champions Series contest in the bag, Wings Of Eagles hit top gear to win by three-quarters of a length. Cracksman was another neck back in third.

Beggy, 31, was riding in the race, which carried record prize money of £1,625,000, for the first time and few racegoers had heard of him beforehand.

“I don’t get to sit on many beasts like this at the races, so I’m going to enjoy it,” he said. “A furlong down I thought if I get a run I’d win, I knew Ryan had gone, but in fairness to the big horse his best furlong is his last, which makes a big difference.

“I’d nearly given up on the big days, but Aidan O’Brien has made it happen. It’s happy days.”

O’Brien said: “I couldn’t be happier, and obviously I’m delighted with Cliffs Of Moher but he’s a bit of a baby and his next run will be something to look forward to.

“Paddy is a world-class rider, he has a great mind and is always very aware – I’m delighted for him, I can’t tell you how delighted we are to have him working with us.”

O’Brien went on: “Ryan’s horse got there and just got tired, but Padraig gave the winner a great ride. He had him in a lovely rhythm, nice and balanced.

“It’s possible the first two could go to the Irish Derby if the lads want to. I’d imagine Cliffs Of Moher is open to the most improvement, Ryan just felt the last half a furlong was a bit much today but he’s only a baby.”

Gosden said of Cracksman: “I think Frankie [Dettori] found that the horse was still a bit immature mentally about the whole thing. A couple of times, Frankie had to galvanise him, particularly at the top of the hill.

“He was running a bit babyishly – maybe he could have done with that other race beforehand – but he has run a grand race, he was just caught out for experience and wasn’t beaten far. They are obviously a solid, even bunch of colts and we’d be happy for a rematch.”

Martyn Meadeusaxzzrzdueadwxtccsbuqydxyzuby, trainer of the fourth-placed horse Eminent, said: “I think he was just squeezed out in the closing stages, and he didn’t travel too well to start with – it took him a little time early on to get into his rhythm and to get into a position as they came around the top of the hill.

“He had a lot of ground to make up, and that is his beauty really, when he came into the straight he could really use his stride. He was squeezed a little at the end and he wasn’t beaten far, but he just wasn’t the best on the day today.

“I’d love to run the race again now, or at least next week!”

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.

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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
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