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  • W&N

Prose: non-fiction, Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

The lives of a racehorse, a woman, and a group of wild gamblers collide on Derby Day, 1913.

At the Epsom Derby on June 8th, 1913, the lives of a racehorse, a woman, and a group of wild gamblers collided. The Derby was to become the set for an elaborate con and a fatal political act.

From the outset there was a conspiracy. A confederacy of highly skilled conmen spent years forming an extravagant plan to bring down an even lower form of rogue: the bookmakers. They gambled their own fortunes on the con - and their target To win millions from the bookies at the 1913 Epsom Derby.

But there was another person on the Epsom Downs that day, one with a different yet even higher-risk plan to disrupt the race. In the years prior to the 1913 Derby a young woman conspired to win a battle at the heart of which was a much greater stake than gamblers conning one another: the freedom of women. She was Emily Davison, the suffragette whose fatal act of grasping for the reins of the King's horse would kill her.

Davison's sacrifice and the confederacy's coup shared little in common - but that day brought their schemes and causes to the attention of the whole country, and would change British society for ever.

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Dominic Prince

Dominic Prince is a journalist and has written articles for the Guardian, Telegraph, and the Spectator. He is an amateur racehorse jockey, and famously lost over five stone to get back in the saddle. He is married to writer Rose Prince and they have two children.