The Kiplingcotes Derby has been run every year near Market Weighton, East Yorkshire (UK) since 1519. The race is held the third Thursday of March at 11 a.m. This year’s race marked its 500th anniversary.

The annual race is a four-mile cross-country course. The race starts near the defunct Kiplingcotes railway station and ends at Londesborough Wold Farm. Besides it’s long history the race embraces several quirky characteristics.

  • Any horse or rider may enter the race regardless of breed, age or ability. A well known “secret” of the race is the practice of entering former racehorses under fake names.
  • There are no advance entries. Just show up by start time, pay the entry fee and you may race.
  • The winner receives a trophy and L50, but the second place finisher receives all the entry fees, which often exceed the first place amount.
  • Betting on the race is allowed but there is only one official bookie. Because competitors are not pre-registered, odds are calculated just prior to the start of the race.

If you think it’s hard to carry on an annual tradition for 500 years, you would be right. In 1947 harsh weather prevented the start of the race. In order that the centuries old tradition continue a local farmer led his horse through the course during the blizzard. In 2001, when an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease prevented transportation, another local farmer and horse again walked the course as the soul competitors.

Tracey Corrigan and her horse Frog beat this year’s record field of 36 competitors. This was their 4th win.

The finish line for the Kiplingcotes Derby

Feature Image by artist, Henry Aiken