Coronation Cup

Derby Festival: History of the Coronation Cup

Run over the same distance as the Derby and the Oaks, the Coronation Cup first took place in 1902 to celebrate the accession to the throne of King Edward VI, who himself won the Derby three times with Persimmon, Diamond Jubilee and Minoru, as well as the Grand National with Ambush.

The inaugural running of the 12-furlong race for older horses was won by Osboch, whose trainer Richard Marsh provided Edward VI with his Derby winners Persimmon and Minoru.

Pretty Polly became the initial of five dual winners of the Coronation Cup when successful in 1906, 12 months after her initial success in the race. One of the greatest fillies in English racing, Pretty Polly won 22 of 24 starts, including victories in the 1000 Guineas, the Oaks and the St Leger, the fillies’ Triple Crown.

The following two runnings went to The White Knight, who proved himself to be a star stayer, also winning the Ascot Gold Cup in both 1907 and 1908.

The 1910 Derby winner Lemberg returned to Epsom Downs the following year to triumph in the Coronation Cup, while St Leger and dual Ascot Gold Cup scorer Prince Palantine won at Epsom in 1913.

Pommern took the Derby at Newmarket in 1915 en route to Triple Crown glory. The colt returned to the Suffolk track, used as a substitute for Epsom during the First World War, to take the Coronation Cup the following year on his only start of the season.

St Leger winner Solario proved himself to be one of racing’s stars with a 15-length victory in the Coronation Cup in 1926. The four-year-old colt also won that year’s Gold Cup at Ascot and went on to sire two Derby winners – Mid-day Sun (1937) and Straight Deal (1943) – as well as 1000 Guineas and Oaks scorer Exhibitionist.

Coronach came back to Epsom in 1927 to win the Coronation Cup, having scored by five lengths in the previous year’s Derby. The Fred Darling-trained colt also won the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot by 20 lengths, the Eclipse by six lengths and set a record time when taking the St Leger.

American-bred Reigh Count was sent to England in late 1928, having won that season’s Kentucky Derby.

Owned by former taxi driver John Hertz, the four-year-old triumphed in the 1929 Coronation Cup before finishing second in the Ascot Gold Cup and went on to sire American Triple Crown hero Count Fleet.

One of racing’s unluckiest horses, Dastur finished second in the 2000 Guineas, the Derby, the St Leger and the Champion Stakes. A half-brother to Triple Crown winner Bahram, the Aga Khan-owned colt did win the 1933 Coronation Cup, along with that season’s Champion Stakes.

King Salmon was another horse to finish second in both the 2000 Guineas and the Derby. Success came as a four-year-old with victory in the Coronation Cup in 1934, followed by a sensational win in the Eclipse at Sandown where he beat outstanding Derby winner Windsor Lad, himself a Coronation Cup victor 12 months later.

The only dead-heat in the history of the Coronation Cup occurred in 1937, when Cecil and His Grace could not be split.

Ardan became the first French-trained winner of the Coronation Cup in 1946, having captured the French Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as a three-year-old. Trainer Charles Semblat also sent over Goyoma to win the Coronation Cup two years later. Dual Arc winner Tantieme (1951) and Nuccio (1952) continued the impressive French record in the race.

Derby runner-up Aureole gave Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II one of her first major successes when winning the 1954 Coronation Cup. The four-year-old then triumphed in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot before becoming champion sire in 1960 and 1961.

Ballymoss, another Derby runner-up, gave Vincent O’Brien a first success in the Coronation Cup in 1958 and the four-year-old followed up with victories in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Lester Piggott, the most successful Coronation Cup jockey with nine successes, rattled up a hat-trick of wins between 1959 and 1961 with Nagami and dual winner Petite Etoile, who had also been victorious in the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks.

Exbury won the 1963 Coronation Cup by an authoritative six lengths. The French-trained colt proved himself to be one the best middle distance performers in Europe with comfortable victories in the Prix Ganay and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Derby winner Relko triumphed in heavy ground in the 1964 Coronation Cup 12 months after his Classic success, while Charlottown, the 1966 Derby scorer, also completed the Epsom Downs double the following year.

Royal Palace went one better in 1968, having won the 2000 Guineas as well as the Derby in 1967, and the Noel Murless-trained colt then took the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park.

Lupe won the Oaks in 1970 easily by four lengths for trainer Noel Murless with Sandy Barclay up. Geoff Lewis took the ride in the 1971 Coronation Cup and Lupe won for the second time at Epsom Downs but this time the finish was much tighter, with the favourite, French raider Stintino, partnered by Barclay, coming with a strong late run to get within a neck at the line. Murless sent out four other winners of the Coronation Cup (Petite Etoile twice, Royal Palace and Caliban), making him the second most successful trainer in the race’s history.

The great Mill Reef won on his final racecourse appearance in the 1972 Coronation Cup. The outstanding colt, winner of the Derby, Eclipse, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, also sired 1978 Derby winner Shirley Heights and 1987 Derby scorer Reference Points.

The 1972 Derby winner Roberto returned to Epsom 12 months later to take the Coronation Cup, beating Attica Meli by five lengths. He was the last horse to win both Epsom Downs races. The Coronation Cup has been won by nine colts who were previously successful in the Derby and by four exceptional fillies who took the Oaks (Pretty Polly, Petite Etoile, Lupe and Time Charter).

Trainer Dick Hern and jockey Joe Mercer enjoyed two successive years of Coronation Cup glory

With Buoy winning in 1974 and then Bustino coming home ahead in 1975. Bustino went on to finish second to Grundy in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, one of the greatest races ever witnessed.

Exceller was a top-class horse on turf and dirt, winning the 1977 Coronation Stakes for French trainer Francois Mathet before going on to victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, edging out American Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.

Time Charter was one of the Coronation Cup’s most impressive winners when scoring by four lengths in 1984, having already triumphed in the Oaks, Champion Stakes and the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Having been placed in both the French and Irish Derbys, Rainbow Quest proved to be an outstanding four-year-old, turning the Coronation Cup into a procession in 1985, before going on to gain the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in the stewards’ room.

Triptych was one of the toughest mares to have seen a racecourse. Having been narrowly denied by Saint  Estephe in the 1986 Coronation Cup, she went one better the following year, winning by three quarters of a length despite idling. “The Iron Lady” became only the fourth dual winner of the race when beating three opponents in 1988. In five seasons, Triptych raced 41 times and won nine times at Group One level, including victories in the English and Irish Champion Stakes as well as the Juddmonte International.

Saint Estephe’s trainer Andre Fabre returned to the winner’s enclosure in 1990 with In The Wings, who triumphed on only his sixth racecourse appearance and went on to capture the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Belmont Park later that year.

Sir Michael Stoute enjoyed successive Coronation Cup victories with Saddlers’ Hall in 1992 and outstanding middle-distance performer Opera House a year later, before Fabre rattled off a hat-trick of wins, starting with Apple Tree in 1994, who had been demoted from second 12 months earlier. The French trainer returned in 1995 to saddle Sunshack to victory and celebrated another win the following year when subsequent dual King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Swain took the spoils by a neck.

Singspiel narrowly failed to beat Swain on that occasion, but the Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt destroyed a quality field by at least five lengths in 1996. Described by some as racing’s first “world champion”, Singspiel won races on three continents, including the Dubai World Cup, the Canadian International and the Japan Cup.

St Leger winner and close Derby second Silver Patriarch took the 1998 Coronation Cup, while another grey, Daylami, came out on top the following year en route to scintillating victories in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the Irish Champion Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Gulfstream Park. Daylami was Godolphin’s first Coronation Cup victor in 1999 and a second win came with Mutafaweq, successful in the 1999 St Leger, in 2001.

Derby runner-up Daliapour also proved himself to be a top quality international performer and became Sir Michael Stoute’s fourth winner of the Coronation Cup in 2000 before going on to take the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin. The Newmarket trainer gained his fifth Coronation Cup success in 2009 when the six-year-old triumphed in the first running of race sponsored by Investec.

Boreal created a bit of history as he was the first German-trained winner of the Coronation Cup in 2002, while Warrsan, subsequently successful in two German Group Ones, was the fifth horse to win the Group One twice when following up his 2003 triumph 12 months later.

Warrsan returned to Epsom in 2005, but could only finish fourth behind the Aidan O’Brien-trained Yeats, who proved himself one of the best stayers ever with four victories in the Gold Cup at Ascot.

French champion trainer Andre Fabre enjoyed his sixth Coronation Cup success when Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Shirocco defeated Oaks heroine Ouija Board by one and three quarter lengths in 2006.

Aidan O’Brien, Ireland’s champion trainer (pictured top in raincoat), has dominated the Coronation Cup in recent years, matching Fabre’s tally of six wins in 2012. Following Yeats’ victory in 2006, he enjoyed first and second in the 2007 renewal as Scorpion held Septimus, while Soldier Of Fortune, fifth in the Derby the year before, saw off Youmzain by three quarters of a length in 2008.

Fame And Glory had finished runner-up to Sea The Stars in the 2009 Derby before landing the Irish equivalent by nine lengths. The O’Brien-trained colt stayed on strongly to hold 2009 Oaks heroine Sariska by a length and a half in the 2010 Coronation Cup and went on to capture the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in 2011.

St Nicholas Abbey had been touted as a potential Triple Crown contender in 2010 after a scintillating juvenile season for O’Brien but the colt missed the majority of his Classic season with a setback. He started to realise his huge potential as a four-year-old in 2011 when swooped for a length victory over Midday in the Investec Coronation Cup before going on to further success at the highest level with an impressive win in the Grade One Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs.

In tribute to Her Majesty The Queen, who celebrated her Diamond Jubilee as Britain’s monarch in 2012, the race was renamed the Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup and switched from Friday to Saturday.

St Nicholas Abbey returned to Epsom Downs to become the sixth dual winner of the Investec Coronation Cup, this time readily accounting for subsequent Hong Kong Vase scorer and Dubai World Cup second Red Cadeaux and Ladbrokes St Leger victor Masked Marvel. The son of Montjeu went on to further Group One glory in the 2013 Dubai Sheema Classic, in which he defeated Japanese horse of the year Gentildonna, and created history when becoming the first three-time winner of the Investec Coronation Cup in 2013, when he easily accounted for Dunaden by three and three quarter lengths.

O’Brien became the race’s most successful trainer with seven victories. St Nicholas Abbey’s racing career was over the following month when he fractured a pastern during routine exercise at O’Brien’s Ballydoyle stables. His pioneering treatment overcame various setbacks but, sadly, the horse succumbed to colic in January, 2014.

St Nicholas Abbey was remembered at Epsom Downs with the 2014 Coronation Cup run as the Investec Coronation Cup (In commemoration of St Nicholas Abbey), in which the outstanding Cirrus Des Aigles beat the high-class Flintshire to provide France with first and second in the race.

Cirrus Des Aigles had already established himself as one of the world’s leading middle-distance horses with a host of major victories, including the Dubai Sheema Classic and British Champion Stakes. The hugely popular Corine Barande-Barbe-trained gelding posted a sixth Group One success with a comfortable two-length win at Epsom Downs, despite sustaining a slight injury in the closing stages. He returned to racing later in 2014 and won the Group One Prix Ganay in 2015.

Flintshire attempted to go one better in 2015 with the main opposition looking to come from fellow French contender Dolniya. However, it was the 11/1 outsider Pether’s Moon who took the honours, coming home a neck clear of Dolniya to hand jockey Pat Dobbs his first Group One winner.

Postponed gained a fifth consecutive victory when easily beating subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine Found in the 2016 renewal, which had been named the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Cup (sponsored by Investec) in honour of The Queen’s 90th birthday. The very smart five-year-old had already annexed the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Dubai Sheema Classic, and went on to collect a fourth Group One victory with another impressive display in the Juddmonte International at York.

The 2017 Investec Coronation Cup reverts to the first day, Investec Ladies’ Day, of the Investec Derby Festival, Friday, 2nd June, to boost the racing then.

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