On This Day: Shergar won the Derby by a record 10 lengths in 1981

After a promising season as a two-year-old, Shergar, owned by the Aga Khan and trained by Michael Stoute, was targeted at the 1981 Epsom Derby, amid a growing confidence in its prospects.

Wednesday, 3rd June 2020, 3:00 pm
Walter Swinburn takes Shergar past the finishing post at Epsom to win the 202nd, and his first, Derby Stakes

As a warm-up for the big event, Shergar was entered into the Chester Vase in May of that year, sweeping home to triumph by 12 lengths, making the horse an even stronger Derby favourite.

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Going off at odds of 10-11, and ridden by 19-year-old Walter Swinburn, Shergar stormed to victory by 10 lengths, the biggest winning margin in history, but also the slowest winning time since the War.

After a subsequent disappointment at the St Ledger, Shergar was retired to stud in Ireland, from which the horse was stolen by a group of armed men on February 8, 1983.

Ultimately a seven-figure ransom was demanded for the return of the horse, but negotiations stalled abruptly amid rumours Shergar had been killed, and the horse was never recovered.