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Wednesday 7 June 2023

Which jockey has won the Oaks most often?

Run over a mile and a half at Epsom Downs, Surrey in late May or early April, the Oaks is the third English Classic horse race of the season and the second of two – after the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket a month earlier – restricted to three-year-old fillies. Established in 1779, the race was named after the residence of Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby, in nearby Carshalton.

The late Lester Piggott, who won an unparalled 30 British Classics between 1954 and 1992, won the Oaks six times, but the record for most wins is still held by Frank Buckle, the outstanding jockey of the Regency Era. Between 1792 and 1827, by which time he was 61 years old, Buckle rode 27 British Classic winners, thereby setting a record that would stand until 1984, when Piggott won the St. Leger, having 'jocked off' American Darrel McHargue on the favourite, Commanche Run. It is also noteworthy that the first of them, 1792 Derby winner John Bull, came 17 years before the inaugural running of the 2,000 Guineas in 1809, while the 1,000 was not established until 1814.

Anyway, between 1797 and 1823, Buckle won the Oaks nine times, on Nike (1797), Bellissima (1798), Belina (1799), Scotia (1802), Theophania (1803), Metora (1805), Neva (1817), Corinne (1818) and Zinc (1823). Nike and Bellina were owned by Richard Grosvenor, 1st Earl Grosvenor, while Metora was owned by his son, Richard Jnr., 2nd Earl Grosvenor, who succeeded his father in 1802. Neva, trained by Richard Dixon-Boyce, th Duke of Rutland, was the first filly to complete the 1,000 Guineas – Oaks double, while Corrine and Zinc, both trained by the so-called 'Emperor of Trainers', Robert Robson, were the second and third fillies to do so.