The Derby, or Derby Stakes, to give the race its full title, was famously co-founded by Edward Smith-Stanley, Twelfth Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury, Senior Steward of the Jockey Club, in 1780. The Derby is, and always has been, a conditions stakes race, in which the weight carried by each horse is dictated not by its official rating, or handicap mark, but by the race conditions. Notwithstanding the fact that ‘handicapping’ did not exist until the mid-nineteenth century, it is still remarkable that, in 240 runnings, what has become the most prestigious race in Britain has produced three winners at 100/1.
The first of the triple-figure winners was Jeddah, trained by Richard Marsh and ridden by Herbert ‘Otto’ Madden, in 1898; his victory was apparently greeted with ‘solemn silence’. A decade later, Signorinetta, trained by Cavaliere Edoardo Ginistrelli and ridden by William Bullock, had the distinction of being just the fourth filly to win the Derby and, two days later, won the Oaks as well. Last, but by no means least, completing the unlikely trio came Aboyeur, trained by Tom Lewis and ridden by Edwin Piper, in 1913; in a race marred by fatal injuries to suffragette Emily Davison, Aboyeur, who originally finished second, in a blanket finish, was promoted to first place on the disqualification of 6/4 favourite Craganour.