The Coronation Derby: Horse Racing and British Society

RGS History

Coronation year was seriously talked of as the dawn of the new Elizabethan Age, more of which anon. One of its highlights was The Derby, ran as ever at Epsom. To understand what it meant, we need to understand something about horse racing, the British love of a flutter and Sir Gordon Richards.

To begin with horse racing. The are two kinds of racing, the National Hunt (over the jumps) and the Flat. The big money game is the Flat, traditionally known as the sport of kings. In the case of the1953 Derby Sir Gordon Richards won sweeping past horses owned by no less than the Aga Kahn and the queen herself. Racing under the rules of the Jockey Club started as an aristocratic pastime. The home of Flat Racing, Newmarket, was beloved of Charles II. The Derby itself was first run in 1780.

In 1838 its timing was set…

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