It has to be Shergar and his win in the summer of 1981.
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That was the time I was just starting to get into racing – and off the back of my first ever bet (Spartan Missle in the Grand National) – my grandfather allowed me a second chance on the Derby.
I picked…Glint Of Gold in the same black and gold Paul Mellon silks as the great Mill Reef. It wasn’t to be financially but what a race and another one to capture the magic of the sport.
With the National it was the romance of Aldaniti and the incredible stories of the horse himself and jockey Bob Champion.
But with Shergar it was the wow factor, the sheer thrilling spectacle of seeing a horse pull further and further clear down the Epsom straight.
And then there was his jockey. Walter Swinburn was dubbed ‘boy wonder’ coming into the race, fresh from the apprentice ranks and into the saddle on the Derby favourite it was a rapid rise by anyones standards. I loved the wonderful feature Brough Scott did on him on ITV Racing, just how unflappable can a sportsman be on such a big day! You can watch it below.
Then there was the haunting, heartbreaking story of the winner’s subsequent kidnapping by the IRA. Shergar remains a household name for a number of reasons.
I’d love to have a box office performance like that on ITV – we haven’t had one yet in our three years showing the great race . With so many people watching this year from home, it would be a perfect time to have a Shergar-esque winner in a Derby that’s very different – and yet reassuringly familiar – at Epsom on Saturday.