A black cat prowled about a London shop. Its side brushed softly against a small silver statue of Cragadour, Lord Astor's favorite for the Epsom Derby. The statue trembled, fell. Next day, all England heard of the incident. The next night the statue was stolen. Throughout England filtered a whispered nervous doubt.
People began to bet instead on Mr Jinks, a grey horse named by Ireland's President Cosgrave, with ancestry dating to 1774 and in whose long lineage there always has been a grey dam or a grey sire. On the morning of the Derby there were three favorites: Cragadour, Mr Jinks, and Lord Derby's Hunter's Moon. A few people bet on a horse called Walter Gay, receiving 100 to 8 odds. They were later proved wise because Walter Gay came in second. In Belfast, Ireland was circulated a message which nobody could trace to its source: "Trigo will do the Trigo is Irish-reared, Irish-owned (Mr. William Barnett, corn-broker) Many Belfastians bet on Trigo, odds: 33 to 1. They too were proved wise. Trigo won.
The exodus from the Town started early. Epsom, in Surrey, is not far from London. Rolls Royces and big red buses carts charabancs, here and there a tallyho, moved like gastropoda along the road. Airplanes with radio telephones circled over the procession, tried to direct traffic. On the downs squatted gypsies although they were not supposed to be there. For a shilling they sold pieces of paper with the name of the winner written thereon. Bookies with checked vests ran around the stand which towers at the end of the famed horseshoe shaped track Gentlemen with grey toppers peered through binoculars. The Aga Khan who two months ago offered $100,000 for Trigo was, of course, present. King George, who has been sick, and Queen Mary were not there. But Edward of Wales sat in a box with Princess Mary and her husband Of course, it rained. But Lord Lonsdale famed side-whiskered British sportsman and chief steward of the course, said that the ram made no difference. "The course was hard as iron," said he, "and the result shows just this—some horses can run on hard ground and some can't."
When Trigo crossed the finish line there was a profound silence. Nobody could believe that the outsider had "done the trick." Trigo's jockey was only an apprentice, one Joe Marshall.
The Epsom Derby is England's most famed though of course not always its most exciting race. The Derby excitement obtains not from the actual running of the race but from the world-wide lottery betting upon it. At the end of a Derby race it is generally discovered that some very obscure person has suddenly won a considerable fortune at very little risk. Such knowledge encourages people to bet on the following Derby. Thus Derby sweepstakes perennially increase in number and size.