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)