In John Oxx's purposeful absence, John Clarke provided welcome distraction by recounting the story of that earlier Tully-bred Derby winner, exactly one hundred years ago.

I will never forget that warm and
hearty royal welcome

When speaking with Her Majesty, I was enthralled by her impressive familiarity with racing and horse breeding – she was well aware of Urban Sea’s successes, and her marvelous record as a broodmare.

Winning the Derby at the age of twenty-seven was an incredibly proud moment, and when Her Majesty congratulated me on becoming the youngest owner ever to win this prestigious race, I explained it was my mother who had ignited my passion for horses when I was a child.

The Queen of England was moved by my devotion to pedigrees at such a young age, and as I stood in The Royal Box, my heart sang!

Our horse had proven himself a true champion! By winning the Two Thousand Guineas and the Derby,

Sea The Stars achieved what no horse had managed since the great Nashwan two decades before.

After such a memorable victory, I had only a few minutes to compose myself before word reached us that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth had summoned us to The Royal Box – what an immense honour!


The most regal and respected monarch in the world, Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II

I will never forget that warm and hearty royal welcome

Her Majesty is so knowledgeable and passionate about horse racing and breeding

Sadly, unlike her great-grandfather, King Edward VII, a century ago, Her Majesty’s quest for Derby glory remained unfulfilled.

HM Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip attending the Epsom Derby meeting at Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey.

Catherine Middleton and Prince William,Duchess and Duke of Cambridge, attending the Epsom Derby meeting at Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey.

Something about King Edward VII

However, when she enquired where Sea The Stars was reared, John Clarke informed her of the shared Tully Stud heritage of our beloved horse and her great-grandfather’s, King Edward VII, success with Minoru, exactly one hundred years ago.

Something about King Edward VII

I am honoured to share this auspicious royal connection! Let me explain the history:

The 1909 Derby was won by Minoru, carrying the colours of King Edward, in a spectacular reversal of fortune for the British monarch, whose racing glory had dwindled.

Minoru was bred at Tully by William Hall Walker, who had leased the yearling colt to the King for the horse’s racing career. And what a career it was! – Minoru’s historic Derby victory was the first for a reigning British monarch.

The King’s success was toasted, but it was a bittersweet moment for Walker. Leasing Minoru deprived him of his dream – owning a Derby winner.


Returning to the present, it was our own Derby chances that occupied my mind before the race.

Mick Kinane had found the ground riding fast, something that would definitely suit Sea The Stars;

I could feel my heart beginning to beat faster! But what of the opposition? Michael Kinane, nearing his fiftieth birthday John Oxx had discussed the ‘Ballydoyle battalions’ with my mother, a remarkable woman.

Her name, Ling, means “spirit” in Mandarin, and her powerful drive and determination see her travelling the globe on business. She was aware of the press’ doubts regarding Sea The Stars’ unproven stamina, but she wasn’t worried.

We had a secret weapon – champion jockey Mick Kinane.

With two previous Derby wins, Kinane knows what it takes to be victorious.

Something about Derby

With preparations underway, I once again wished my mother was with me. She had worked tirelessly, and the glory of a Derby winner belonged to her. As the runners gathered in the paddock, Sea The Stars was the picture of calm, though my nerves were probably evident! I certainly wasn’t alone in hoping for a victory.

Renowned BBC racing expert and presenter Clare Balding approached me in the parade ring and said, “He’s the best looking horse here. I hope you win!”

Christopher leading in Sea The Stars after his victory in the 2009 Derby

The Derby was unlike anything I’ve experienced, and the sheer drama left my senses reeling! Mick Kinane’s masterful riding skills were sublime, and as he challenged for the lead in the final furlong, my adrenalin was pumping. “Come on!” I bellowed, as Sea The Stars flew through the front-runners, putting any doubts about his stamina to rest.

And then, in a spectacular moment I’ll never forget, it was all over.

My beautiful horse passed the hallowed winning post, and the noise was deafening.

We had done it! Sea The Stars had won the greatest flat race on earth – the Epsom Derby.

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