1st Running of the Derby


History on 4th May

SNP wins Scottish Election

Battle of Tewkesbury

Margaret Thatcher becomes Britains 1st Female PM

1st Running of the Derby

Epsom, Surrey The 4th of May 1780 AD

It was so nearly the Bunbury - the name for perhaps the world's most prestigious horse race was decided on the toss of a coin. Edward Smith-Stanley, the 12th Earl of Derby, had already established the Epsom Oaks in 1779, a race for top class three-year-old fillies. He and his friend Sir Charles Bunbury then agreed a similar race, for colts and fillies, should be organised. Rather egocentrically they thought that it should be named for one of the two of them. Derby won, so Derby it is.
The first Derby was run over a mile, partly to differentiate it from the Oaks. At least Bunbury had the pleasure of seeing his horse Diomed win the very first running, in May 1780.
The race is now run over a mile and a half, with a steep rise followed by a left hand turn and then into the straight past the stands, the horse swooping down the hill until the last few yards when the track flattens out and begins a slight rise.
Though the race is open to fillies as well as colts, the last filly to win was in 1916. And with horses from all over the world competing the chances of a horse winning the fabled Triple Crown - The 2000 Guineas , St Leger , and Derby - have reduced drastically. Some 15 horse have achieved that feat, but the last was the great Nijinsky in 1970. That doesn't stop the bookies taking bets every year that a new wonder horse will do it though. You rarely see a bookie riding a bike to work.
The Derby is run these days on the first Saturday in June, rather than in early May as originally, or a Wednesday in June as was quite recently the case. It is one of the great days of the British sporting calendar.

More famous dates here

6931 views since 4th May 2008

Brit Quote:
One person with a belief is equal to ninety-nine who have only interests - John Stuart Mill
More Quotes

On this day:
Drake completes the first circumnavigation of the globe - 1580, 1st British Open Golf Championship - 1861, Blackpool illuminations light up for 1st time - 1925, 1st Birds Eye Fishfingers go on Sale - 1955, 21 IRA men escape from Maze Prison - 1983
More dates from British history

click here to view all the British counties

County Pages