Irish Derby Legends

The Irish Derby can boast many great champions in terms of horses and jockeys. We have selected a few of each that we would like to spotlight and who are regarded as Irish Derby Legends.



The great Nijinsky won the Irish Derby in 1970, after first of all winning the English 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby. He is one of the few horses to have successfully completed the English and Irish Derby double. That same season Nijinsky also managed to win the English St Leger, thus allowing him to complete the English Triple Crown. The only surprise in the Nijinsky story is that he never won the Prix de l’Arc De Triomphe, only managing second place behind Sassafras. It was his first defeat and it was blamed on jockey, Lester Piggott, who many thought had left the great horse too much to do in the final furlong.


Shergar was the story of the 1981 flat season winning both the English and the Irish Derby’s in record style. So emphatic was English Derby success that it was included in the Observers 100 greatest sporting moments. Shergar went on to win the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot before being retired to stud. Sadly Shergar is equally well remembered for his sensational kidnapping in 1983 in Ireland. His kidnap made headlines all over the world but sadly he was never to be returned and was a great loss to future of horse racing

Hurricane Run

Winner of the Irish Derby in 2005, Hurricane Run became rated as the greatest race horse in the world that same year. The rating was reward for his electrifying win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe that same year. Hurricane Run also won the prestigious King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, also in 2005.


Lester Piggott

Lester Piggott was in his heyday the greatest jockey in the world. He won five Irish Derby’s between, 1965 – 1981, these included wins on Nijinsky and Shergar. Piggott also won the English Derby nine times and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe three times.

Pat Eddery

Irishman Eddery did most of his riding in England where he finished champion jockey on no fewer than eleven occasions. He was a winner four times in the Irish Derby, including his win on the great Grundy in 1975. He also won the English Derby three times.

Johnny Murtagh

Now the stable jockey to Aiden O’Brien, Johnny will be looking for his third winner of the race in the 2009 Irish Derby. His two previous wins came in 2003 and 2000 when he was riding for the John Oxx stable. Johnny has rapidly become regarded as the greatest jockey in the world today although he there may be a few detractors on that point, however there is no doubt that he is a winner and is likely to add to his tally of Irish Derby wins over the next few years.