Held at Epsom in Surrey, the Jockey Club says the tale goes that the 12th Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury (the ‘perpetual president’ of the Jockey Club, who was a guest at Lord Derby’s house, itself called The Oaks) “spun a coin as to whether the race should be called the Derby Stakes or the Bunbury Stakes”.
The first running of the Derby Stakes on May 4, 1780, was open to three-year-old colts (8st 0lb) and fillies (7st 11lb), at 50 guineas each, run over a mile. There were nine runners, and although Lord Derby won the toss of the coin, it was Sir Charles Bunbury who owned the first winner – Diomed, the 6-4 favourite.
Sports specialist Graham Budd’s auction held in London on May 25-26 included lots with strong Derby interest.
Tagalie is one of only six fillies, and one of only four greys, to have won The Derby. She had earlier won the 1,000 Guineas. A nail from the shoe of Tagalie when she won the Epsom Derby on June 5, 1912, was offered with an estimate of £150-200 but sold for £1200.
Engraved with the dated 5 - 6 – 12, it had been converted into a gentleman's tie pin and came with a hand-written provenance attached saying it had been bought at a charity auction by the London-based Canadian entrepreneur and financier Douglas H Bayle, c.1971-72, then gifted to his son.
Bayle was the Chairman of E&O PLC and is perhaps best remembered for pioneering the Athena chain of poster shops in the 1970s, with the famous Tennis Girl poster selling over 2m copies alone. He was a regular attendee at black tie dinners organised by The Variety Club and the Anglo-American Sporting Club.
A 20th century great
Sold for £14,000 (estimate £8000-12,000) were the silks worn by jockey Geoff Lewis when riding Mill Reef to victory in the 1971 Epsom Derby, Eclipse Stakes, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. In the colours of owner Paul Mellon, they had also been bought by Bayle at a charity auction.
Budd said: “Undoubtedly one of the greatest racehorses of the 20th century, Mill Reef was bred in 1968 by his American owner, Paul Mellon at Upperville, Virginia.
"Considered better-suited to English turf racing, the small-framed bay colt by Never Bend out of Milan Mill was sent to be trained by Ian Balding at Kingsclere. He won 12 of his 14 starts over a glittering three-year career which included the golden summer of 1971 when, under Lewis, he carried Mellon’s distinctive black and gold silks to victory in all the top races.
“Fifty years on, he still remains the only horse ever to have won the Derby, Eclipse, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in the same season.
"In August 1972, Mill Reef broke a foreleg while in training for a second attempt on the Arc, but skilled surgery together with his placid temperament enabled him to be saved as a highly successful sire of many winners including Derby heroes Shirley Heights and Reference Point.”
Sold for a within-estimate £170, this 89cm square commemorative silk scarf shows Lord Lyon, winner of the Derby 1866, featuring a central image of Lord Lyon ridden by Henry ‘Harry’ Custance, surrounded by a border of cartouches of all the winning horses, jockeys, trainers and owners since the first Derby race in 1780.
Custance won the Derby three times (also 1860 and 1874).