Among the greatest of modern man's examples of the ancient and honorable sport of horse racing are three great turf classics of Europe—the Derby, St. Leger and Grand Prix. The tradition behind them is a rich and ancient one. When the Earl of Derby and his friends held a race on Epsom Downs one fine spring day in 1780 they established an event that still tingles the spine and ranks highest each year on the horse breeder's and sportsman's calendar. This year's 176th rerunning of the Derby will be held next week. The painting (above) by England's great Sportsman-Artist Henry Aiken shows the race of 1835, won by Mundig. Another of Europe's great trio is the venerable St. Leger, run in September on the moors at Doncaster where in Britain's earliest days Roman legions held their chariot races. Inaugurated in 1776 by Lieut. General Anthony St. Leger, it is a mile-and-three-quarter run on uneven turf and considered the most grueling test of a 3-year-old's stamina. At right is a painting by Thomson of the 1819 running of the St. Leger, won by Antonio. But the queen among races and climax of the great social season in Paris is the Grand Prix at Longchamp in June. Less a test of horseflesh than proving ground of social significance, it has been flourishing since 1834. The painting on the next page, by Raffaelli, shows the fabulous concourse at the turn of the century, when extravagant elegance often outshone a good horse.
The Derby, greatest of them all, is depicted in this sweeping race scene done by Henry Aiken in 1835
The St. Leger, on the ancient field at Doncaster, was painted by Clifton Thomson in 1819
Longchamp's Grand Prix, run annually in June, is the brilliant social and racing climax to La Grande Semaine in Paris. A race of a mile and seven furlongs for 3-year-olds, it is shown here in a painting by French Artist J. R. Raffaelli in 1900