Huge crowd at Kiplingcotes race

The three riders from Burnby Equestrian Centre before the start of the Kiplingcotes Derby.
The three riders from Burnby Equestrian Centre before the start of the Kiplingcotes Derby.

King Henry VIII was in the third decade of his reign when Peter Witty and his brothers watched the first horse romp home in the Kiplingcotes Derby in 1519.

The Witty family history came full circle five centuries later when their direct descendants, who had travelled from Canada, stood at the finishing post of England’s oldest horse race, part of a huge crowd celebrating the race’s 500th anniversary.

Felicity Warden riding Freedom Valley.

Felicity Warden riding Freedom Valley.

Nearly 1,000 people assembled to see a record turnout of riders - 36 in all - and watch as Tracey Corrigan, from Sawdon near Scarborough, who said she had “just come for a jolly”, triumph for a fourth time on her horse Frog.

Vanessa Witty, 23, from Edmonton, had hoped to take part. She said: “It’s wonderful being here, and strangely nostalgic to walk around and know this is my ancestors’ land.”

Her direct ancestor Peter Witty, who died in 1534, was present with his brothers at the first race in 1519.

And the brother of one of her ancestors Richard Witty, born 1802, won the race twice in the 1830s and 1850s.

Stephanie Bargate riding Alto

Stephanie Bargate riding Alto

Ms Corrigan, 57, the second favourite who won in 2014, 2015 and 2017, said it was her dream come true.

The going was “fantastic” with no deep puddles to dodge.

The horse she had hoped to bring, a previous winner called Bob Calpocus, had sadly broken its leg. She said: “I was going to sit at the back , but once she was past the first crossroads I thought go for it.”

It was a momentous day also for Guy Stepehnson, who has been associated with the race for 60 years, and trustee for more than 30, who is now handing the reins to his daughter Claire Waring. He was given a big round of applause during a special presentation for his longtime service to the race.

Mary Hallem riding Hero

Mary Hallem riding Hero

Ms Corrigan won £50 for finishing first, with Jason Carver who came second on Start Me Up, awarded £80.

The other £100 went to the Injured Jockeys Fund.

Riders from Burnby Equestrian Centre took part in the historic derby: Stephanie Bargate riding Alto was placed 17th, Felicity Warden riding Freedom Valley placed 23rd and Mary Hallem riding Hero was placed 24th.

Tracey Corrigan, from Scarborough, won the race for a fourth time.

Tracey Corrigan, from Scarborough, won the race for a fourth time.