Emily Wilding Davison was a militant suffragette – an advocate of female suffrage, or the right of women to vote – who was fatally injured during the Derby on June 4, 1913. For reasons unknown, as the field rounded Tattenham Corner, Davison slipped under the running rail onto the track, where she was forcibly bowled over and trampled by Anmer, owned by King George V. She died of her injuries at Epsom Cottage Hospital four days later.
Some observers believe that Davidson did, indeed, commit suicide to draw attention to her cause, while others believe that she was attempting to pull down Anmer or, even, simply to cross the track in the mistaken belief that the whole field had already passed. A more plausible explanation, perhaps, is that Davison was attempting to attach a flag, in the green, white and purple colours of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WPSU) to the bridle of the horse. Two such flags were later found on her person and newsreel footage of the incident shows her holding something, resembling a piece of paper, as she reaches up towards Anmer.
In fact, Davison may not, as some observers believe, have singled out Anmer as the horse owned by King George V. Of course, jockey Herbert Jones was wearing the Royal colours but, from her vantage point on the inside bend of Tattenham Corner, Davison would have found it nigh on impossible to identify Anmer, especially in the absence of a racecourse commentary. Indeed, newsreel footage also shows her attempting to grab the bridle of two horses before Anmer and she and other suffragettes were, apparently, seen rehearsing the manoeuvre on horses in a park beforehand. On the morning of the race, Davison bought a return ticket from Victoria Station to Tattenham Corner Station, adding further weight to the argument that her death was, in all probability, accidental.
In the absence of an objective measure of the abilities of racehorses from different generations, any discussion of the ‘greatest’ racehorses of all time is inevitably highly subjective. According to Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings World, formerly Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings, which began in 1977, Frankel, who retired, unbeaten, in October, 2012, is the highest-rated horse in the history of official classifications. Even so, Frankel only achieved that position after a controversial ‘recalibration’ of the ratings, which saw Dancing Brave, winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1986, downgraded by 3lb.
Timeform agrees that Frankel is the highest-rated horse, on the Flat, at least, since its first ‘Racehorses’ annual, published in 1948, 2lb superior to Sea Bird, winner of the Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1965 and fully 7lb superior to Dancing Brave. Timeform also has Arkle, winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1964, 1965 and 1966 at the head of its all-time list of steeplechasers; his rating of 212 is 20lb superior to any steeplechaser, bar stable companion Flyingbolt, in over five decades. According to Timeform, Brigadier Gerard, who tasted defeat just once in his eighteen-race career in the early Seventies, is rated 3lb inferior to Frankel, but must be considered one of the greatest racehorses of all time. So, too, must Eclipse, who won all eighteen starts between April, 1764 and February, 1789 without being asked a serious question.
Shadwell Racing is the horse racing business of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy tuler of Dubai and brother of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and founder of Godolpin. Sheikh Hamdan developed an interest in horse racing while studying at the Bell School of Languages in Cambridge in the late Sixties and his now familiar blue and white colours were first carried on a British racecourse in 1980.
Four years later, in 1984, Sheikh Hamdan purchased the 6,000-acre Shadwell Estate in Thetford, Norfolk which, following the construction of the Nunnery Stud, in 1987, would become the British base for one of the most highly regarded horse racing and bloodstock operations in the world. In the intervening three decades or so, Sheikh Hamdan has invested heavily in both aspects of the business and the Nunnery Stud has been home to illustrious racehorses and stallions alike.
Indeed, even in the face of formidable competition from the likes of Coolmore and Godolphin, to name but two, Sheikh Hamdan has been Champion Owner in Britain six times, most recently in 2014. Notable runners over the years have included 2000 Guineas, Derby, Coral-Eclipse Stakes and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1989 and Dayjur, dubbed ‘the world’s fastest horse after winning the King’s Stand Stakes’, Nunthorpe Stakes, Ladbroke Sprint Cup and Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp in 1990. Much more recently, Baataash has continued to fly the flag for Sheikh Hamdan, winning the Prixe de l’Abbaye de Longchamp in 2017, Numthorpe Stakes in 2019 and King’s Stand Stakes in 2020, among other high-profile races.
Ryan Moore was crowned Champion Jockey in 2006, 2008 and 2009 and would surely have won the jockeys’ title in 2007, too, but for a broken right arm, sustained in a fall at Lingfield in March that year, which kept him out of action for three months. Nevertheless, Moore still finished third in the jockeys’ championship and, that November, became stable jockey to Sir Michael Stoute.
Indeed, three years later, in 2010, Moore rode his first Derby winner, Workforce, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah and trained by Stoute. Sent off at 6/1 joint-third favourite for the Epsom Classic, the King’s Best colt made short work of the opposition, winning by seven lengths and, in so doing, beating the previous track record set by Lammtarra fifteen years earlier.
Workforce went on to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp but, in 2011, Moore was widely expected to become stable jockey to Aidan O’Brien at Balldoyle, County Tipperary, Ireland. That move failed to materialise as anticipated, but Moore continued his informal, but nonetheless effective, association with O’Brien, which would yield numerous Group One and Grade One victories in Britain, Ireland and the United States. Indeed, O’Brien supplied Moore with his second Derby winner, Ruler Of The World, who maintained his unbeaten record by defeating eleven rivals, including better-fancied stable companion Battle Of Marengo, in the 2013 renewal.