Ahead of this week’s Cazoo Derby (5 June 2021), we pick out five of the greatest winners of the Epsom Classic. From Nijinsky to Mill Reef, it’s always a race to savour. Here are some of the greatest Derby moments from the archives…
1. Mill Reef – 1971
Our first pick of the greatest Derby moments is when the Ian Balding-trained colt soars round Tattenham Corner before jockey Geoff Lewis makes an easy push for the winning post and a two-length victory over Linden Tree. One of the most sublime Derby victories you’ll ever see. Mill Reef, owned by Paul Mellon, went on to win the Eclipse Stakes, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe before being retired to stud after making an incredible recovery from a shattered cannon bone.
2. Galileo – 2001
The ease with which this outstanding colt powers away from the field is breathtaking. The Aidan O’Brien-trained runner went off the 11/4 joint-favourite and, two furlongs out, victory is in the bag. Jockey Mick Kinane eases him down before the line to register a three-and-a -half-length winning margin, going on to describe the son of Sadler’s Wells as the best he had ridden. The colt’s impressive achievements on the track went on to surpassed by his incredible achievements in the breeding sheds as a sire.
3. Nijinsky – 1970
Such was the brilliance of Nijinsky, he remains the only horse in the past 80 years to win the Triple Crown — the 2000 Guineas, the Derby and the St Leger. Trained by Vincent O’Brien, the colt shows the ultimate battling qualifies under a drive by Lester Piggott to triumph by two and a half lengths at Epsom.
4. Shergar – 1981
Unfortunately now best remembered for being kidnapped from the Ballymany Stud in Ireland in 1983, never to be seen again, but there’s no denying that a 10-length victory in any race, let alone the Derby, is a rare and impressive feat. The colt, trained by Sir Michael Stoute and ridden by a 19-year-old Walter Swinburn, went off odds-on favourite and simply annihilated the opposition.
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5. Nashwan – 1989
Nashwan in full flight is a sight to behold. The chestnut’s huge stride and some adept manoeuvering by Willie Carson takes them powering to the front of the field, giving the jockey his third win in the race. The pair finished five lengths clear of 500-1 shot Terimon, completing the Guineas-Derby double.
Don’t miss the full report from the Derby in the 10 June issue of Horse & Hound magazine