A week before the 2014 flat season begins riders will gather with their mounts to take place in the oldest annual horse race – The Kiplingcotes Derby
For 495 years horses and their riders have gathered in the fields and lanes of Yorkshire to race the four miles course of the Kiplingcotes Derby. With the first prize being the princely sum of £50 and the clerk of course being only paid five shillings a year to maintain the course this race may miss the headlines of many racing papers and columns.
The Derby will not see the likes of Camelot take the field but will have no less passion amongst the competitors than the Epsom Classic that is not even half its age. The rules state that all riders must weigh in at ten stone excluding saddles and that those wishing to take part need to gather at the winning post before riding out to the start. A horse of any age can be ridden in the race.
In 1947 and 2001 the future of the ancient race was threatened firstly by a harsh winter and then by the outbreak of foot and mouth. It is stated that if the race does not take part one year that it must never take place again. In both years a single horse and man made the journey down the course to save its future.
In 2014 the race is likely to attract a good number of participants and a sizeable group of spectators. The race is due to take place on Thursday 20 March near the East Yorkshire town of Market Weighton.
For more details about this year’s race: www.wicstun.com/derby
(Featured Photograph – Kiplingcotes Finishing Post by Ian Lavender Geograph.org.uk – Wiki-commons)
(References – Wikipedia – The Kiplingcotes Derby , wicstun.com and calendarcustoms.com)