Sir Gordon Richards, who was knighted in 1953 in recognition of his services to horse racing, was arguably the most successful Flat jockey in British racing history. During an extraordinary career, between 1921 and 1954, Richards rode a total of 4,870 winners and became champion jockey on 26 occasions.
In 1947, Richards rode 269 winners, thereby setting a British record that would stand until beaten by the incomparable Sir Anthony McCoy 55 years later. Richards also enjoyed considerable success in British Classic races, winning the St. Leger five times, the 2,000 Guineas three times, the 1,000 Guineas three times and the Oaks twice.
However, for much of his career the most important Classic of all, the Derby, proved elusive. In fact, it was not until the so-called ‘Coronation’ Derby, run just five days after he had been knighted, in 1953, that Richards broke his duck in the Epsom Classic. On that occasion, he rode the 5/1 joint-favourite, Pinza, owned by Sir Victor Sassoon and trained by Norman Bertie. Shikampur, owned by the Aga Khan, led the field into the final quarter of a mile, but was soon tackled by Pinza, who drew away in the closing stages to win by four lengths. Aureole, owned by the Queen, came around the outside of the field to finish second, but was always in vain pursuit.