He scooted round Tattenham Corner
Whistlejacket looks back at the Derby in the 1980s
There is plenty of enjoyment to be had in these non-racing times by looking back over the great races of the past which are available online. You Tube is a vital source of these videos and apart from the great racing it is interesting, and sometimes mind-boggling, to look at the way TV coverage and hairstyles have changed.
I have been looking at Epsom Derby of the 80s. Of course, Shergar in 1981 is one of the most impressive visually. Up in the van from the start, he scooted round Tattenham Corner and had the race won all up the straight. But to my mind Slip Anchor’s win in 1985 is even more impressive.
Steve Cauthen gave him a wonderful old-fashioned front running ride, getting the fractions perfect, and had everything not just beaten but floundering in behind. It shows how a great ride (and this was Cauthen’s first Derby win) can make a very good horse look incredible.
Many people think Dancing Brave should have won the 1986 Derby and that Greville Starkey messed up but looking back at it, I’m not so sure.
True, Dancing Brave was near the back of the field all the way but he looked unbalanced on the track. It was perhaps not surprising that Starkey had difficulty gathering him together.
Plus, he did not get a quick pace to run at in the Derby which he did four months later in the Arc.
Plus, Shahrastani, not as talented a horse, was in the perfect position, to launch his challenge from two furlongs out. The 1986 Derby was heart-breaking to watch but watch the Arc directly afterwards to see how Dancing Brave had matured as a horse and how on a flatter track, was able to show that he was a true great.
My favourite Derby of the period is 1984 where there was the great duel between El Gran Senor and Secreto. Somehow it reminded me of the great Champion Hurdle race involving Harchibald and Hardy Eustace over 20 years.
For all the world, it looks like both the riders of Harchibald and El Gran Senor had double handfuls and that the riders only had to push the button to secure a cosy victory.
But maybe neither had as much left in the tank as it looked and unfortunately, they were faced by stamina laden rivals given determined rides. A great race though and a reminder of what we will miss come the first week in June. Let’s hope we get to see the Derby this year
Whistlejacket looks back at the Derby in the 1980s http://wp.me/s8e3Dl-14420
Newmarket: the 400 year story of HQ http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-D6
Duel purpose and multiple winners: the unique Chester Cup http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3Mo