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Although Kiplingcotes is not a racecourse today in the conventional sense, it does host a unique event each year on a picturesque course in the Yorkshire Wolds. The Kiplingcotes Derby claims to be the oldest continuously run race in the English racing calendar. It may well have been contested as early as 1519, and the list of rules shown at the bottom of this page was constructed and dated 1519, but the earliest record of it taking place was in 1555. A certain Thomas Carter of Helperthorpe, a lowly herdsman, was giving evidence in court and claimed to have witnessed the race run at Kiplingcotes Ashe on Shrovetide 1555. Given that Easter for that year was on Sunday 14th April, and that the race has traditionally taken place on a Thursday, Shrove Thursday would have been on 28th February 1555. In the early part of the 16th century hunting gentlemen from the parish donated £355 for a Plate and a cash prize, free from an Act of Parliament, to be given to the winner of the Kiplingcotes Plate. The list of subscribers are shown below. Although the race was open to all horses, invariably the race was won by a thoroughbred. In later years this became a problem because any horse or rider taking part in the event was disqualified from entering any future race run under Jockey Club rules. Fortunately in 1985 the Jockey Club relented and made the Kiplingcotes Derby a unique exception to this rule. The actual racecourse at Kiplingcotes held its final meeting on 19th March 1789, but the Derby is still contested each year over a 4 mile course, starting near to the former Kiplingcotes railway station and finishing at Londesborough Wold Farm.

If you have photos, postcards, newspaper cuttings or book references about the race, or can provide a photo of a previous winner, then email

492nd running:-Thursday 18th March 2010
1. Maisie (aka Minster Fair) ridden by John Thirsk
2. Meena (aka Patricia Philomena) ridden by Laura Brown nee Crawford
3. Mariner's Jig ridden by Karen Hall
4. Reindeer Dippin ridden by Heather Buck
5. Colleen's Pride ridden by Debbie Stabler
6. Mush (aka Almushrouk) ridden by Sally Ireland
7. Shannon Style ridden by Georgette Greaves
8. Molly ridden by Dennis Brown
9. Master Roberts ridden by Peter Nicholson
10. Jubilee Queen ridden by Gaynor Nicholson
11. Barnstormer ridden by Kerry Freeman
DNF Charlie (aka Rare Presence) ridden by Liz Stubbins (fell)
DNF Chris ridden by Pete Pindar (fell)
13 ran
(Unofficial) Distances: 10 lengths, long gap, 5 lengths, long gap, 10 lengths, 20 lengths, long gap, very long gap, 1 length, interminably long gap (traffic had restarted).

The results are shown courtesy of Chris Pitt. Click here for his full race report

493rd running:-Thursday 17th March 2011
1. Charlie (aka Rare Presence) ridden by Sally Ireland
2. Blue ridden by Emma Herbert-Davies
3. Master Bob (aka Arctic Cove) ridden by John Thirsk
4. Meena (aka Patricia Philomena) ridden by Laura Brown nee Crawford
5. Batman ridden by Sally Martin
6. Callum ridden by Elizabeth Platts
7. Arthur ridden by Julie Benton
8. Paddy ridden by Helen Wright
9. Blaze ridden by Jamie Sutherton
10. Trent ridden by Naomi Norton
11. Jubilee Queen ridden by Gaynor Nicholson
12. Master Roberts ridden by Peter Nicholson
12 Ran (Unofficial) Distances: 1 length, 5 lengths, 6 lengths, 30 lengths, long gap, long gap, very long gap, 15 lengths, 10 lengths, very long gap, 1 length.

The results are shown courtesy of Chris Pitt. Click here for his full race report

494th running:-Thursday 15th March 2012
1. Bob (aka Arctic Cove) 2/1 jt fav ridden by John Thirsk
2. Blue (5/2) ridden by Emma Herbert-Davies
3. Forbidden (2/1 jt fav) ridden by Terry Hardmate
4. Amadeus (8/1) ridden by Sue Taylor
5. Claude (4/1) ridden by Danny Ablett
6. Dai (3/1) ridden by John Pearce
7. Strawberry Fayre (10/1) ridden by John Boyce
8. The Countess (6/1) ridden by John Hudson
9. Earl of Spectrum (16/1) ridden by Charlotte Richardson
10. Valentino (10/1) ridden by Amanda Herbert-Davies
11. Kaban (6/1) ridden by Joanne Odell
DNF Santa Anita (8/1) ridden by Jackie Linsdell (unseated ridder)
12 ran
(Unofficial) Distances: 20 lengths, long gap, long gap, 30 lengths, 30 lengths, 30 lengths, long gap, 10 lengths, very long gap, 2 lengths.

The results are shown courtesy of Chris Pitt. Click here for his full race report

495th running:-Thursday 21st March 2013
1. Woteva 5/4 fav ridden by Carolyn Bales
2. Eeyore 4/1 ridden by Geoff Bridges
3. Data 5/1 ridden by Jason Carver
4. May ridden by John Pearce
5. Jingo (aka Jingoism) ridden by Katie Hobbs
6. Rory ridden by Rosie James
7. Austin (aka Invitado) ridden by Peter Dhillon
8. Trooper ridden by Michael Hetherton
9. Amadeus ridden by Sue Taylor
10. Connie Bear ridden by Susan Archer
11. Libby ridden by Alison Garner
12. Ryan ridden by Stephen Wilburn
DNF Itzy ridden by Aline Peat (fell)
13 ran
(Unofficial) Distances: winner won by a ‘distance’; 5 lengths; 2 lengths; long gap then 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th finished close up; further long gap then 9th, 10th & 11th finished close up; then very long gap before final finisher (tailed off).

I am grateful to Chris Pitt for giving permission for his report to be included, and to Mary Pitt for the excellent photographs shown below.

Woteva wins the 2013 Derby
In stark contrast to the foggy conditions of twelve months ago, bright sunshine greeted a huge crowd that had made their way to Londesborough Wold on the traditional third Thursday of March for the annual running of the Kiplingcotes Derby, England’s oldest horse race. Sunny it may have been, but there was still a bracing chill in the air, thus confirming that March 21st, the latest date the race can ever be run, was far from being the harbinger of spring, this year at least. The long drawn-out winter of rain and snow had rendered the ground conditions just about the most testing in recent memory. But none of that could deter the Kiplingcotes faithful, plus a host of first-time visitors.

Alison Garner and Libby led to the start

There is little doubt that Julia Bradbury’s feature about the race on BBC’s ‘Countryfile’ in 2011 made a huge difference in making people aware of its existence. Last year’s crowd was bigger than usual, despite the fog, but this year’s sunshine brought as large a crowd as had ever thronged the single-track road that leads to the winning post, estimated at between 800 and 1,000 strong.With public parking having been prohibited on the grass verges for health and safety reasons, a free shuttle bus had been provided from nearby Market Weighton. The catering truck was soon doing a roaring trade in burgers, sausage sandwiches, soup and tea, with all profits going to the Kiplingcotes race fund. And for the first time, a pair of portaloos was a much-appreciated addition. Last year had seen the presence of Doncaster bookmaker Chris Johnson, the first time a bookie had attended for over 60 years. Despite having shown a loss, Johnson was back again to try and recoup his money and attracted plenty of business from those who fancied a wager. Another of last year’s innovations was the wearing of number cloths –borrowed from the previous weekend’s Holderness Hunt point-to-point at Dalton Park –thus making identification easy for those not sufficiently well acquainted with the riders’ colours.

Stephen Wilburn and Ryan

First run in 1519 and originally called the Kiplingcotes Plate, the four-mile race starts in the parish of Etton, close to the old Kiplingcotes railway station, and finishes at Londesborough Wold Farm. The course comprises grass verge, ploughed field, tarmac road, muddy track and the disused Enthorpe railway bridge, prior to crossing the A614 Market Weighton to Driffield road and finishing down a quarter-mile strip of grass. John Thirsk, who had landed four of the last five runnings, did not have a mount this year–although he was in attendance as a race steward –while 2011 winner Sally Ireland was also an absentee. That meant there was certain to be a new name added to the list of winning riders. Indeed,only two of the thirteen competitors had had previous Derby experience, the other eleven being Kiplingcotes first-timers. They included those who were doing it for the fun, such as veteran Michael Hetherton, who was realising a “long-held ambition” and planning to hunt round in his own time on Trooper. Of similar vein was Stephen Wilburn on his 19-year-old hunter Ryan. At the other end of the equine age scale, five-year-old thoroughbred May, boasting a US sprint-bred pedigree, was the mount of John Pearce, who had finished sixth last year on a horse named Dai.

Rosie James and Rory
Sue Taylor was reunited with Amadeus, fourth last year and the only horse to have run in the race before. Rosie James, wearing a hunting jacket and blue velvet cap, was hoping for a “nice ride” on her all-purpose horse Rory. Susan Archer –“horse has no speed, rider is unfit” –had similar aspirations on the 12-year-old hunter Connie Bear. Another looking for a safe round with no pretentions of winning was Alison Garner, riding Libby for charity on behalf of The Heart Foundation. Those, then, were the long-shots, but there were half a dozen horses with realistic credentials.
Alison Garner and Libby
Three were described by their riders as hunters, but they were fast hunters and looked as if they meant business. The whimsically-named Eeyore had travelled from Stamford, in Lincolnshire, with his rider Geoff Bridges, who commented that he hadn’t come all that way just for the ride. Itsy, a 12-year-old dressage-cum-hunter trial horse, was the mount of Aline Peat, who believed they could go well.  Data could be given a chance, if only by the fact that his jockey, Jason Carver, was the only one fully bedecked in racing silks, his ‘blue, yellow seams and sleeves, hooped cap’ colours standing out as the horses and riders assembled at the start. There were three former racehorses in the line-up, two of them maidens.
Katie Hobbs and Jingo
Seven-year-old Jingoism, by Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, raced nine times for Brian Ellison in Flat maidens, bumpers and a novice hurdle without once reaching the first three. He was partnered by Katie Hobbs. Fourteen-year-old chestnut gelding Austin, who raced under the name of Invitado, is a son of Be My Guest and ran 18 times on the Flat and over hurdles. During his career he’d been ridden by such racing luminaries as Kieren Fallon, Graham Lee, Mick Fitzgerald and Richard Johnson, yet the best he could muster was a third place finish at Market Rasen in September 2003. Having been absent from the racecourse for nigh on a decade, he was making his racing comeback, partnered by Peter Dhillon. But the horse with the most outstanding claims was surely Woteva, a seven-year-old Kyllachy mare who Nigel Tinkler had brought back to action after two years off to win at Newcastle last May and post placed efforts at Beverley and Nottingham. Woteva was the mount of Carolyn Bales, who works at Tinkler’s Malton stable. The form looked strong and Woteva was installed as the 7/4 favourite, although it wasn’t long before her odds contracted to 5/4.
Fourth place John Pearce and May

The presence of Tinkler himself and a good number of his stable staff told its own story. In reality, Woteva should have been long odds-on because she came home alone, winning by what used to be known –until the advent of computerised distances –as a distance.  Her winning margin was made easier by the departure of front-running Itsy, who still held a slight lead when slipping up with a little over two furlongs to run, but the result was never really in doubt in the race’s latter stages. May crossed the A614 in second place but tired late on as first Eeyore and then Data passed him in the last half furlong. Eeyore took second prize, five lengths ahead of Data, with May two lengths further back in fourth. After a long gap, a quartet of horses came into view, with Jingo taking fifth place ahead of Rory, Austin and Trooper. Following another long gap the trio of Amadeus, Connie Bear and Libby came in, leaving only the well tailed off Ryan to appear sometime later. Happily, Itsy and Aline Peat emerged pretty much unscathed from their tumble. The horse suffered slight grazing above her right eye and off-fore but was treated on the spot by the vet.

Third place Jason Carver and Data

Winning rider Carolyn Bales, 34, received the £50 first prize and was presented with the silver Kiplingcotes Derby trophy and an embroidered horse rug courtesy of race sponsors The Ship Inn. Afterwards she told reporters how she had won the race. 'It was a challenging course with ruts and puddles,' she said.' I can't believe I've won, they set off so quickly and were about 30 lengths in front of me but I took a different route from everyone else. 'It's nothing like riding on a racecourse. If you were 30 lengths behind you wouldn't make it up whereas here you can do if you go the right route. Everyone went for the ruts but I went for the field where it was better ground. 'The leaders went that fast early that they were tiring near the end. I knew the right way to go and the horse carried me the rest of the way. The other horse (Itsy) was in front but was tiring when she fell. I was just going past it at the time.' Runner-up Geoff Bridges said Eeyore had 'tried hard but didn't have a lot left.' I didn't think we'd come second, that's for sure,' he said. 'The leaders got the jump on us at the start. The third-placed horse (Data) was just behind me all the way. After the first road crossing we started picking them off and once we got onto the track itself, those that had gone flying off at the start didn't have anything left. Ploughing through that mud is hard work.' Fourth-placed John Pearce regretted that the thoroughbred he intended to ride was unable to run due to a chest infection but he'd made up his mind to give it a go with May. 'We've got to keep these traditions alive,' he said. 'A great amount of effort goes into putting events like this on and we need to support them.'

Runner-up Geoff Bridges and Eeyore

Rosie James regretted not having made more use of Rory in the early part of the race. 'He had more left in the tank than I thought he would,' she reflected. Paul Dhillon was up there early on Austin but found the distance too far for his horse. 'I learned a lot about him today and he learned a lot about me,' he commented.' I wouldn't put him through that again now that I know what it's like but we'd never competed in any sort of race together before and for us it was a big, big step.' Susan Archer, tenth on Connie Bear, was one rider for whom the testing conditions posed no threat. 'A lot of people said the going was horrendous but, by my standards as a hunter, it was fine.' Despite falling in the closing stages, Aileen Peat said that she would be back to try again next year. Disturbingly, rising health and safety costs threaten the race's very existence. Reports suggest its future is uncertain because money needs to be found to cover items such as signage, liability insurance and the hiring of race stewards. Whereas Humberside Police used to control the busy A614 road traffic free of charge, cutbacks mean that they no longer attend, and they have requested that the race organisers work with the council to improve traffic and crowd management, stewarding and marshalling, in order to ensure public safety.

Winner of the 2013 Derby Carolyn Bales and Woteva

This year they had to use traffic lights and a private security company. Fortunately, they were prepared to do it for advertising purposes, but if they request payment next time the bill will be £1,300, meaning that staging the race could cost £2,000. Nonetheless, clerk of the course Susan Hillaby remains optimistic, saying she had received many offers of support, and every effort would be made to keep the race going, although she would welcome new sponsors coming forward. The rules of the Kiplingcotes Derby state that if it is not run one year, it may never be run again. The race is now within sight of its 500th anniversary and it can only be hoped that it survives to celebrate this impressive milestone.

Winning Connections

496th running:-Thursday 20th March 2014
1. Willy (aka Willywont He) 4/1 ridden by Tracey Corrigan
2. Bob (aka Calapocus) 6/1 ridden by Richard Mumford
3. Vinnie (aka Clowance House) 4/1 ridden by Patrick Chesters
4. Independent Dancer ridden by Claire Caning
5. Prima Donna ridden by Angela Chomse
6. Dee ridden by Heather Buck
7. Woteva ridden by Carolyn Bales
8. Jingo ridden by Katie Hobbs
9. Hope ridden by Hannah Summer
10. Tosca ridden by Tony Woodward
11. Red O'Donnell ridden by Mark Gilbert
12. Look Again ridden by David Tesseyman
13. Brannigan B ridden by Bryan Hyland
14. Cantsfield ridden by Iona Lane
15. Milo ridden by Heather Graham
16. Kacie Mae ridden by Shannon Walker
17.  Whisper ridden by Celia Standring
18. Nosey ridden by Joanne Peden
18 ran
(Unofficial) Distances: winner won by 10 lengths; long gap, then 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th finished close up; further long gap then 9th and 10th close together; another long gap then 11th, 12th, 13th & 14th close together; gap to 15th; gap to 16th; then last pair finished together.

The results are shown courtesy of Chris Pitt. Click here for his full race report

The Founders of Kibling Coats (sic), within the East Riding of the County of York, to be observed and Ridd (sic) yearly, the third Thursday of March, is shown below:-

  £     £
Earl of Burlington 30   Matthew Constable Esq 5
Lord Dunbar 10   James Moyser Esq 5
Lord Bellass 10   John Hearne Esq 5
Lord Langdale 10   Edward Gower Esq 5
Charles Lord Clifford 10   Lewis Gower Esq 5
Michael Wharton 20   Sir William Carrer 5
Thomas Grantham Esq 10   William Boynton Esq 5
Sir Henry Bellas 10   Sir William Cobb 5
Sir Francis Boynton 10   Thomas Strickland Esq 5
Sir John Hotham 10   Samuel Nevill Esq 5
Sir William Strickland 10   William Gee Esq 5
Sir Marmaduke Constable 15   William Thompson Esq 5
Sir John Wentworth 10   Barron Shorroy 5
Sir John Legard 10   Richard Rammington Esq 5
John Stapleton Esq 10   John Lister of Seaton Esq 5
James Duroy Esq 5   John Dalton Esq 5
Sir Henry Chomley 5   Thomas Stillington Esq 5
Sir Christ Wivill 5   Robert Dolman Esq 5
Sir Robert Hildyard 5   William Osbaldeston Esq 5
Sir Francis Cobb 5   William Brockman Esq 5
Sir Ralph Wharton 5   Philip Mickton Esq 5
Sir Hugh Bethell Le Ryse 5   Cornelius Twizzleton Esq 5
Sir Matthew Preston 5   Edward Barnard Esq 5
Sir Barrington Bowther 5   Philip Constable Esq 5
Sir Jerry Smith 5     £355

Articles of the race drawn up in 1519

1st Every man that is a Founder he is to put Twenty Shillings in Gold for his stake when he hath a horse, gelding or mare that runs for the prize, and every other person Four Pounds in Gold, and if any person that is a founder put in a horse that is not his own, he must put in Four Pounds in Gold for his stake or be adjudged not to run for the prize.

2nd Every horse, gelding or mare that runneth for the prize shall be led out between twelve and one of the clock, and shall run the course before two of the clock in the afternoon.

3rd Every horse, etc, that runneth for the Prize shall start bridled and saddled and shall run with rider weighing 10 st., fourteen pounds to the stone, according to ancient custom.

4th Every horse, etc., that runneth for the Prize shall have their Judge or Trier, and put their stakes into the clerk's hand at or before eleven of the clock, who will be at the weighing post ready to receive it, and set down the name of the owner of every horse, etc., his horse's name and colour, and his rider's name and Judge's name, and to take a record from the Judge every horse's place at the end of the course.

5th Whosoever doth stop or stay any of the running horses that rideth for this Prize, if he be either the owner of a horse that runs or his servant will be adjudged to hinder the horse, his horse shall win no prize.

6th Every rider that layeth hold of any of the other riders or striketh any of them shall win no prize.

7th Every rider that wanteth any more than one pound of his weight after he has run shall win no prize.

8th That the horse that runneth first by the Weighing Post set up at the end of the course observing the articles shall win the rize, and the second horse etc., shall have the stakes, only so muck yearly detained and taken out of the stakes as shall finish, support, repair and maintain the Rubbing Houses at the end of the course, and what be deemed necessary to be done about the said course in maintaining the weights, posts and levelling ground, etc., and any two or more of the Founders are authorised to direct and appoint yearly how much of the stakes shall be detained or taken out for the uses aforesaid.

9th George Plaxton, of Londesburgh, is declared to be clerk and to keep the weights, and is to receive fifteen shillings from him that winneth the Prize, that is ten shillings for keeping the weights and five shillings which he is to employ for mending the course every year, and likewise to receive twelve pence for every Trier's name that he enters in his book, and he is to appoint a man to start the horses, to whom the Master of the winning horse is to pay two shillings and sixpence, and he is to take care that there be not any horse, etc., do start within a quarter of a mile of the running horses, and the said Trustees or the major part of them is hereby declared from time to time to nominate and appoint who shall be their clerk at their will and pleasure.

10th All the Posts on the course to be left on the right hand, otherwise he shall win no Prize.

11th Every man that is a Founder and his heir's male are herby declared to be Founders to this course for ever, and that the eldest son of every Founder shall have the privilege of putting in a horse as a Founder during his father's life, and that the names of every Founder be fairly written on parchment to remain constantly with the clerk, and likewise on the same parchment to be set down in whose custody the writing or security shall remain which is taken for any part of the sums of money so contributed.

12th The master of those horses that run wherein there shall happen any difference, shall each of them name one Founder to determine this difference, and if they cannot agree, those two Founders are to name an Umpire.

13th Any of the riders being required by any of the Triers or Judges shall be weighed after the course, and in case of refusal or want of weight according to the Articles shall be adjudged the last horse.

14th That is any horse, etc., be brought to run under the name of a Founder and that there be any suspicion by any person that such a Founder is not really the owner of such horse etc. and that the said suspicion be declared to the clerk of the course, he is directed to acquaint the Judge or Trier of such horse etc., and such Founder, if he be on the course. is forthwith upon notice to repair to the said clerk, and engage to the Trier upon his honour that such horse etc., is really his own without any manner of equivocation, fraudulence, or deceit; or if such Founder be not upon the course himself, then some Gentlemen on his behalf is to clear the doubt in the same manner as aforesaid, and if there be no such clearing of the aforesaid doubt, then such Founder is either to put in Four Pounds towards the increase of the stakes or else to be adjudged not to be in a capacity to win the Plate, but shall be adjudged the last horse.

If you have photos, postcards, newspaper cuttings or book references about the race, or can provide a photo of a previous winner, then email

Much of the information about this race has been found using internet research and is in the public domain. However, useful research sources have been:-

British Newspaper Archive Online

Northern Turf History Volume 2 by J.Fairfax-Blakeborough

The Kiplingcotes Derby by Alison Ellerington

The Sporting Magazine

A List of Horse-Matches Run by Reginald Heber 1751-1772

Racing Calendars which were first published in 1773

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

Copies of the above books are only available by emailing stating your requirements, method of payment (cheque payable to W.Slusar) or Bank transfer, and the address where the book(s) should be sent.
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