(one of the most amusing, and often humbling, aspects to studying the history of Thoroughbred horses is how many times we humans get it wrong. The saga of Diomed is a perfect case in point. )
… Diomed’s final victory was a King’s Plate in 4-mile heats, carrying a gargantuan 168 pounds. While it is unlikely too many humans could have hauled 168 pounds across the track, much less over 4 miles, consensus among the British horse racing community was that Diomed had somehow failed them.
The following year his owner, Charles Bunbury, stood Diomed at stud for 5 guineas ($25). But there was scant interest. Bunbury continued to lower the fee until it had plummeted to 2 guineas, but to no avail. For the following 10 years Diomed roamed his paddock on his own while the British continued to snub him.
Still, the colt had proven himself to be the best in the Kingdom and had given Bunbury the honour of the first Derby, which incidentally, but for the loss of a coin toss might have been named the Epsom Bunbury.
The previous summer the 12th Earl of Derby was hosting a party near Epsom to celebrate his filly, Bridget, winning the inaugural Oaks. The race was restricted to 3 year old fillies and so Derby and friends decided there should be a separate race for colts and fillies. When it came to naming the proposed event there was a coin toss between Derby and Bunbury. While Bunbury lost the toss, his horse, Diomed, won the race…
(to be continued… Britain’s loss, a boon for North America..)