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Best winners of the Derby

HighLifeChannel May 21, 2018

Every Derby winner has run a different race to victory. From battling it out from the front to taking the lead at the final moment under a perfect ride, all our ten horses have something special about them. But which horse was the greatest? Read about the top ten, vote for your favourite and enter a draw for a chance to win a pair of VIP hospitality tickets to year’s exciting race at Epsom.

Pinza (1953)

Prevented a Royal victory for Queen Elizabeth II’s Aureole, just four days after her coronation. The giant Pinza, who had injured himself falling on a gravel path in Newmarket in the spring, won by four lengths to give the legendary Gordon Richards a first success in the Classic on his 28th and final attempt. Ran only once more, again beating Aureole in the King George.

Never Say die (1954)

Hitherto unpromising, he was a 33-1 chance at Epsom under Lester Piggott, then just an 18-year-old. Responded gamely to the urgings of the great man to win by two lengths and give Piggott the first of his nine Derby wins. Piggott was suspended after riding Never Say Die at Royal Ascot, leaving Charlie Smirke to partner him to a record 12-length win in the St Leger.

Sea-Bird (1965)

Under Australian jockey Pat Glennon, the French colt beat Meadow Court, a champion in his own right, with ease at Epsom. Unlucky not to finish his career unbeaten, he went on to win a strong Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe by six lengths. Experts agreed he was the best Flat horse of the 20th century and he held the highest Timeform rating in history until 2012.

Nijinsky (1970)

The most recent winner of British racing’s Triple Crown of 2,000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger, an accomplishment that is rarely now attempted and less likely to be beaten for some time. Bred in Canada, trained in Tipperary and named after a Russian ballet dancer, he was brought through with an irresistible challenge by Lester Piggott to beat French colt Gyr in style.

Mill Reef (1971)

Versatile and popular operator who had shown blazing speed as a two-year-old but defied concerns about his stamina with a blistering display of power and determination to win the Derby going away. Was beaten only by the exceptional Brigadier Gerard in the 2,000 Guineas and went on to claim the Eclipse, King George and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe that season.

Grundy (1975)

As classy a horse as the late Pat Eddery rode in his career, Grundy proved the perfect foil as he swept to a three-length win. Peter Walwyn’s chestnut suffered a narrow defeat in the 2,000 Guineas before winning the English and Irish Derby and recording his most famous win, beating Bustino in what is widely considered the greatest Flat race of the 20th century in the King George at Ascot.

Shergar (1981)

Ultimately the subject of one of sport’s greatest mysteries when kidnapped from stud, Shergar holds the record of winning the Derby by the widest margin when he drew 10 lengths clear of the high-class Glint Of Gold, with jockey Walter Swinburn even easing down in the closing stages. Added the Irish Derby and King George in equally easy fashion before his only defeat of the year when below par in the St Leger. The rest, as they say, is history.

Reference Point(1987)

An unusual front-running winner of the Derby under American Steve Cauthen, he appeared in danger of being swamped heading down the hill but found plenty in reserve to finish a length and a half clear of Most Welcome. Henry Cecil trained the colt on to win a King George and he remains the last horse to complete the Derby-St Leger double after another gritty, galloping run.

Generous (1991)

Colt who lit up Epsom under Alan Munro, cruising into the lead two furlongs out and maintaining the gallop for a five-length win over a smart field including Marju and Hector Protector. Also beat subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Suave Dancer in the Irish Derby and demolished a classy line-up in the King George at Ascot by a record seven lengths.

Sea the Stars (2009)

Completed a stunning run of six straight Group 1 wins as a three-year-old. He was as impressive at the Derby as he was throughout his spotless career, delivered with perfect timing by Mick Kinane to stride home. Horses rarely complete the Guineas-Derby double in modern times, let alone add the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. But for Frankel, he would be the best horse of this century.


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