1905 DERBY CELEBRATIONS
The 1905 Derby excited particular interest locally because it was won by a local horse, Cicero
, who had been bred by Lord Rosebery at his stables at The Durdans in Epsom. Cicero was the favourite of the nine runners at 11-4, but the French colt, Jardy was also a hot tip although a cough had affected his form. It was neck and neck between the two horses in the final straits of the race but Cicero responded to the cheers of the crowd as well as the urging of his American jockey, Danny Maher, to win the race by three parts of a length. He set a new course record of 2 minutes 39 2/5 seconds.
Lord Rosebery was thrilled. When he was at university he had set himself three goals in life: to marry an heiress, to own a horse that would win the Derby and to become Prime Minister. He achieved all three: in fact, Cicero was his third Derby winner.
The subsequent celebrations covered a period of weeks, starting with a firework display in the grounds of The Durdans carried out by the famous firework company, Messrs Brock and Co. All sorts of pyrotechnic novelties enthralled the large crowd for nearly an hour, with a remarkable set piece that spelt "Well Run 2 mins 39 2.5 secs". The evening concluded with a rousing "Three cheers for Lord Rosebery".
Lord Rosebery also provided a lavish treat for the inmates of Epsom workhouse in Dorking Road on Thursday 22 June 1905. There were over 400 inhabitants at this time ranging in age from 3 weeks to 92 years. The weather was perfect and every effort had been made to ensure that they all had a day to remember. The workhouse dining hall had been decorated with primrose and rose drapery, Lord Rosebery's racing colours, and the stage had been covered with plants and two large portraits, one of Lord Rosebery and the other of Cicero.
The first event was breakfast of pickled pork, bread and butter, under the watchful eyes of the Master and Matron, Mr and Mrs J T White. They had relaxed discipline for the day so that the inmates could do as they liked until the dinner at 12.30 when they were then served "restaurant style". All sorts of unaccustomed delicacies were on offer: silverside of beef, ham and new potatoes, jam and fruit tarts, stewed fruit, blancmange, custard and jellies, washed down with ale or lemonade. Afterwards they could have cherries, tobacco or snuff. More bread and butter, cakes and liquid refreshments were provided later in the afternoon. The shopping list for the event had included 230 lbs of beef, 140 lbs of ham, 10lbs of poultry, 3 cwt of potatoes, 80lbs of apples, 120lbs of cherries and 130lbs of mixed fruit. Mr Glenister's Bijou Band provided the music and there was dancing on the lawn. Lord Rosebery was unable to attend in person but sent a letter expressing his regret and wishing them a good time.
The following Thursday Lord Rosebery held a grand celebratory garden party to which he invited all the working men in Epsom and their wives, a total of over 3000 guests. Unfortunately just as the event was due to start the weather broke and there was a violent thunder storm with lightning and torrential rain. The guests were caught unprepared but large marquees had been hired from GS Waglan in Epsom in which they could take shelter. The storm lasted for over an hour, but the programme of entertainment continued valiantly with music provided by Mr Glenister, the Band of the Coldstream Guards and the Epsom Town Band. Tea was taken in three sessions in the marquee.
Lord Rosebery presented each of the Sports Committee with a primrose and rose rosette, in the centre of which was a gold horseshoe set with 9 brilliants, and two central bars bearing the words "Cicero 1905" in coloured enamel. In his address, Lord Rosebery said that pleasure was only meaningful if it could be shared and he had always wanted to give the people of Epsom such an event. He had thought he might do so when his sons came of age. Unfortunately, they had both been born in the middle of winter so he was particularly delighted that Cicero had provided a suitable opportunity.
In October 1905 Lord Rosebery also gave Epsom a horse trough and drinking fountain, engraved with Cicero's name, which stood outside the grounds of The Durdans, until it was relocated outside the Rubbing House
on Epsom Downs at Langley Vale.
Researched by Liz Manterfield Sept 2006
- Bourne Hall Museum
- The Times 1905 and 1923.
- Epsom Journal 1905
- The history of the Derby Stakes by Roger Mortimer, Michael Joseph, London.1973, ISBN:0718111 834