From the Archives: June 27th, 1907

The 1907 Irish Derby was dominated by Orby, the first horse to win both it and the Epsom Derby in the same year. It was owned by Richard ‘Boss’ Croker, the former head of Tammany Hall – the notorious political machine in New York – and freeman of Dublin

 

Very rarely has a larger company mustered in the enclosure at the Curragh than that of yesterday, and even granting that the Irish Derby always proves a big draw, the interest on the present occasion was considerably heightened owing to the fact of Orby being due to take part in the race.

The prospect of seeing the winner of the Derby running in the Irish Blue Riband was an attraction that many who but seldom go racing could withstand, and the result was that from Dublin alone a huge contingent travelled down to the “short grass,” no less than five special trains having to be requisitioned to convey the passengers, and these, with people who came from other quarters, helped to make the crowd of great dimensions.

Fortunately, the weather, though by no means typical of the average June, was somewhat more favourable than on Tuesday, the atmosphere not being so cold, but the wind that blew from the Kildare end of the Curragh was a trifle disagreeable, and we could have done without the showers which fell.

The race for the Derby proved the one-sided affair that was generally anticipated, Orby’s smashing victory at Epsom pointing to his success in yesterday’s event, which, by the way, differs very much from the English Derby, inasmuch as in our race there are penalties and allowances, and, of course, in the other there is only the sex allowance. Thus, whereas Orby was meeting his opponents across the Channel on level terms, he was conceding over a stone to all save Gleg in the Irish Derby. However, this made no difference to the colt, on whom odds of 10 to 1 [on] were laid, and he won with the utmost ease from his stable companion, Georgetown.

The odds were so prohibitive that few laid them, but none the less the victory was one of the most popular of recent times, and the wild scene of enthusiasm it evoked has only once been equalled at the Curragh, and that was five years ago, when St. Brendan defeated Port Blair.

Fortunately the drizzle ceased just as the finishing touches were being put to the toilettes of the Derby candidates, who numbered seven all told, or two less than last year, when Killeagh credited Mr. Joseph Lowry with the stake. The general desire was, of course, to see Orby, who had won his spurs so gallantly at Epsom in the early part of the month, and had there proved his title to rank as the best three-year-old in Europe.

It was no easy matter, however, to get a view of the colt, so densely was the paddock packed by people eager to scan him and the other competitors, but this was eventually accomplished, and as Orby and his owner came into the saddling enclosure they were greeted with a cheer. No horse could look better than the handsome son of Orme and Rhoda B, and needless to say he came in for plenty of encomiums, even from those who did not “fall in love” with him at Baldoyle last month.

Mr. Corker also ran Georgetown, a big, upstanding bay, and the stable confidence in the latter’s ability to account for all save Orby was amply justified in the result.

Rathbride Manor was represented by Gleg and Desmond O’Neill, and it is worthy of note that Gleg holds the distinction of having lowered Orby’s colours in the Londonderry Plate last August. The wagering took a very limited range, the event being looked upon in the light of an absolute certainty for Orby, and those anxious to get on had to lay the extravagant odds of 10 to 1, so that he started the hottest favour on record for an Irish Derby.

One could easily procure twenties about any of the others, but few were foolhardy enough to accept even that tempting price, and those who did want a flutter confined their endeavours to “placing them.”

The chestnut, who by the way was not in the least distressed on returning to the unsaddling enclosure, bids fair to become a popular idol, and Mr. Croker was warmly congratulated on establishing a record by winning both the English and Irish Derby in the same year and with the same horse.

Read the original here

Selected by Joe Joyce; email fromthearchives@irishtimes.com

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