Kiplingcotes Derby is widely accepted to be the oldest annual horse race in the English sporting calendar. It reputedly began in 1519 and takes place on the third Thursday in March, often in exceptionally adverse weather conditions. The 498th race took place on 16 March 2017.
The Kiplingcotes (also spelt Kipling Cotes) race is the oldest in England, having taken place every year since 1519. It is run every spring. One quirk of the ancient rules means the second place rider often receives more in prize money than the winner. It is not run over a typical modern racecourse. A clerk is paid 5 shillings (25p) annually for maintaining it.
- The course takes in four miles of arduous farm track and field.
- Riders must weigh in at ten stones, excluding saddle, horses of any age can be ridden.
- All those wishing to enter must gather by the starting post by 11 a.m. on the morning of the Derby.
- The winner receives the sum of £50. (However, sometimes it may prove advantageous to come second, as this rider is the lucky recipient of the sum of the entry fees.)
- The rules also state that if the race is not run one year then it must never be run again.
During the harsh winter of 1947 no one was daring enough to take part and so one local farmer took it upon himself to lead a lone horse around the course, ensuring that the historic race would survive. During the 2001 UK foot and mouth crisis the race was once again reduced to one horse and rider.
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