Buy Tickets
Buy Tickets

The Australian Derby and its History

The Blue Riband at 160

The Australian Derby and its History

The presentation of the Blue Riband was a recognisable moment at the racecourse. It meant the winner of the Derby had just been declared. Coming up to its 160th running in 2021, the now ATC Derby builds on a long tradition of exciting wins, highs and lows, and hard work.

Image: Tulloch being draped in the Blue Riband, 1957, DT Supplement

THE HEROIC SASH – 1924

The ‘Blue Riband’ is a Derby tradition from England, which originated from UK Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in 1848.

3 Year Old Triple Crown

As a race for three year olds, the ATC Derby joins with the Randwick Guineas and the Rosehill Guineas to create the Three Year Old Triple Crown. Few have won the honour.

Image: Race books from the ATC Heritage Collection

Moorland

Moorland

3 Year Old Triple Crown

Moorland took the Triple Crown in 1943. He defeated champion mare Flight by 1 ¼ lengths in the Derby.

Image: Moorland with jockey M. Freedman aboard, 1942, unknown photographer

Martello Towers

Martello Towers

3 Year Old Triple Crown

Martello Towers was the Triple Crown winner in 1959. The popular grey had George Podmore aboard in the Derby with a ¾ length win from Travel Boy, who had also been beaten in the other two races of the Crown.

Image: Martello Towers with George Podmore aboard, 1959, unknown photographer

Imagele

Imagele

3 Year Old Triple Crown

Imagele was a T. J. Smith trained horse. He crossed to secure the Triple Crown in 1973 with Kevin Langby aboard for each of his wins.

Image: Imagele winning the Derby, 1973, C. J. Bickley

Octagonal

Octagonal

3 Year Old Triple Crown

Octagonal (NZ) won all three legs of the Triple Crown in 1996. His son Niello, would go on to win the Rosehill and the Randwick Guineas in 2004.

Image: Octagonal winning the Derby, 1996, Bradley Photographers

Dundeel (NZ)

Dundeel (NZ)

3 Year Old Triple Crown

Dundeel (NZ) is the most recent horse to achieve the Triple Crown. In 2013, Dundeel successfully crossed with James McDonald aboard to win all three races.

Image: Dundeel (NZ) racing in the ATC Derby, 2013, Bradley Photographers

The Derby Move

The ATC Derby began as a spring race in 1861. In 1977, Belmura Lad (NZ) won the last spring Derby. The race did not run in 1978, it appeared on the autumn programming. Great wins followed.

Image: Belmura Lad (NZ) winning at Randwick, 1970, Paul Percival

Dulcify (NZ)

Dulcify (NZ)

The Derby Move

Dulcify (NZ) won the first autumn Derby on protest. Double Century crossed first, but was later disqualified and the win given to Dulcify, only ¾ length behind.

Image: The finish of the 1979 Derby, Paul Percival

Our Paddy Boy (NZ)

Our Paddy Boy (NZ)

The Derby Move

Our Paddy Boy (NZ) gave Colin Hayes his second Derby with his win in 1981, a half-length win over Ring The Bell.

Image: Our Paddy Boy racing in the Derby, 1981, unknown photographer

Rose of Kingston

Rose of Kingston

The Derby Move

Rose Of Kingston became the first filly since Tea Rose in 1944 to win the Derby. Her 1 ¼ length win in 1982 added to her Group 1 successes.

Image: Rose Of Kingston after her Derby win, Michael Jeffery

Beau Zam (NZ)

Beau Zam (NZ)

The Derby Move

Beau Zam (NZ) was one of Bart Cummings’ champions. In preparation for the Derby, Beau Zam had Princess Anne aboard at track work, during her visit to Australia that included an Equestrian Federation of Australia event.

Image: Princess Anne riding Beau Zam, 1988, Anton Cermak for Sydney Morning Herald News

RAY SELKRIG’S SADDLE

Ray Selkrig’s first Group 1 win was in the AJC Derby in 1954 on Prince Delville, before going on to more Derby glory.

Horses of the Derby

Over its long history there have been many exciting winning moments. The horses and the people involved with the race have made the history of the Blue Riband what it is today.

Image: Angel of Truth out in front, ATC Derby, 2019, Bradley Photographers

Phar Lap (NZ)

Phar Lap (NZ)

Horses of the Derby

Phar Lap (NZ) won the ATC Derby in 1929. It is considered the beginning of his greatness, but he was lucky to have the opportunity to race as from 1932 to 1956, geldings were banned from racing in the Derby.

Image: Phar Lap winning the Derby, 1929, unknown photographer

Ammon Ra (NZ)

Ammon Ra (NZ)

Horses of the Derby

Ammon Ra (NZ) won the Derby in 1931 with Maurice McCarten aboard. McCarten had four wins as a jockey in the Derby and then trained Deep River for the win in 1952.

Image: Ammon Ra, unknown photographer

Allunga

Allunga

Horses of the Derby

There have been two dead heats during the history of the Derby. In 1935 it was between Allunga and Homer. Interestingly, it was ridden by champion jockey Darby Munro, and trained by his brother, former jockey turned trainer, Jim Munro. Darby would end his career with five ATC Derby wins.

Image: The finish of the 1935 Derby, unknown photographer

Prince Grant (NZ)

Prince Grant (NZ)

Horses of the Derby

Prince Grant (NZ) crossed to win in 1965 with an eight length winning margin, though this was not the widest winning margin in the Derby. That was achieved by Trident in 1886, who crossed with ten lengths from Blairgowie.

Image: Prince Grant racing, 1960s, unknown photographer

Tavago (NZ)

Tavago (NZ)

Horses of the Derby

Tavago’s (NZ) win in 2016, gave Natalie Young and Trent Busuttin a win, with Natalie being the first female trainer to win the Derby. In 2019, Gwenda Markwell trained Angel Of Truth to the win.

Image: Tavago winning the Derby, 2016, Bradley Photographers

Artists of the Derby

Depicting winners of the Derby is an important moment for equine artists. They show the evolution of equine art and emphasise the prestige of the race.

Image: So You Think, sire of 2020 Derby winner, Lucy Rose

“MOODY MANFRED” – 1925 AJC DERBY

English painter Martin Stainforth captured the drama of Manfred’s AJC Derby win in 1925.

Thomas Hamilton Lyttleton

Thomas Hamilton Lyttleton

Artist

Early artists often depicted horses with elongated bodies and small heads. Photography changed the understanding anatomy and how a horse moved when racing.

Image: The Barb, winner of the Derby in 1866, Thomas Hamilton Lyttleton

Martin Stainforth

Martin Stainforth

Artist

Martin Stainforth captured not only the form of Manfred but also his extraordinary win in the Derby in 1925. In a cartoon below the main image, Manfred is shown missing the start but catching up to win by 1 ½ lengths.

Image: Manfred and his Derby win, 1925, Martin Stainforth

Michael Jeffery

Michael Jeffery

Artist

In the late 1970s, commissioned works became more common. Michael Jeffery was commissioned to paint the Derby winners, capturing each winning horse in anatomic detail, often with the jockey abroad.

Image: Prolfic, winner of the Derby in 1984, Michael Jeffery

Alister Simpson

Alister Simpson

Artist

Alister Simpson was commissioned to paint the Derby winner at the end of the 1980s, putting his name to winning portraits through the 1990s and 2000s.

Image: Strawberry Road, winner of the Derby in 1983, Alister Simpson

Alister Simpson

Alister Simpson

Artist

As part of his process, Alister Simpson produced preparatory drawings for his oil paintings. Checking the detail before setting it in paint.

Image: Preliminary pencil drawing for Ethiopia after 2012 Derby, 2012, Alister Simpson