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  Saturday, 2 June, 2001, 18:29 GMT 19:29 UK
Six of the best at Epsom
Lester Piggot rode Nijinsky to victory in the 1970 Epsom Derby
Piggott declared Nijinsky the best horse he'd ridden
BBC Sport's Lee McKenzie recalls, in chronological order, six of the best horses to have won the Epsom Derby.

Sea Bird II (1965)

Bred and trained in France, raced only once in Britain but no-one who witnessed his imperious performance at Epsom will ever forget it.

The winning margin was a mere two lengths but the manner in which he demolished the best of the home team stamped him as an exceptional horse.

His reputation was further enhanced when he trounced a vintage line-up for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe later in the year.

After that he retired to stud in America as the winner of seven races out of eight - and as one of the greatest racehorses in history.


Nijinsky (1970)

Lester Piggott rides Nijinsky to victory in the 1970 Epsom Derby
Nijinsky: 1970 was his Triple Crown year
Trained by the Irish genius Vincent O'Brien, he won all five of his races as a two-year-old and did not let his supporters down in the Derby, recording a stylish victory under the legendary Lester Piggott.

He landed the Irish Derby and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and went on to complete the Triple Crown (2000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger)

He ended his career with two defeats but they could not disguise the glory of his achievements earlier in the year.

Piggott paid him this tribute: "Nijinsky possessed more natural ability than any horse I ever rode".


Mill Reef (1971)

Mill Reef also took the Arc de Triomphe in his golden year of 1971
Mill Reef: Indelible mark in the history books
Mill Reef and the equally-brilliant Brigadier Gerard made 1971 a golden year for racing.

Both were outstanding champions in their own right and they remain two of the all-time greats.

The "Brigadier" came out on top in the 2000 Guineas but he did not run at Epsom, leaving Mill Reef to make his own indelible mark in the history books.

The better of the pair over the Derby distance of a mile-and-a-half, Mill Reef later added the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris to his impressive portfolio.


Shergar (1981)

Shergar seen here with Walter Swinburn on board
Shergar: Mystery remains
Shergar is perhaps even better known these days for his unsolved disappearance than he is for his breathtaking display at Epsom, where he scored by an unprecedented 10 lengths.

After going on to land the Irish Derby and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, he was sensationally beaten in the St Leger and subsequently retired.

After spending just one season at the Aga Khan's stud in Ireland, he vanished during the night in February 1983 and was never seen again.


Reference Point (1987)

Reference Point pulls clear in the 1987 Derby
Reference Point: More workmanlike than spectacular
A tough, no-nonsense type, this horse is often overlooked in lists of the best recent Derby winners.

But his record undoubtedly exceeds most of them.

He was ridden to victory at Epsom by a talented American, Steve Cauthen.

Known as the "Kentucky Kid", Cauthen made an immense impact on the racing scene during his successful spell in Britain.

Reference Point himself went on to win the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes and the St Leger.

His style of racing was more workmanlike than spectacular but during the course of his career he repeatedly proved to be a very tough nut to crack.


Nashwan (1989)

Willie Carson is surrounded by wellwishers after his 1989 triumph on Nashwan
Nashwan: Stamina plus speed made him a magnificent athlete
One of jockey Willie Carson's four Derby winners, Nashwan was the last horse to complete the 2000 Guineas-Derby double.

It is a feat that Golan will attempt to duplicate in this year's race.

Many others have tried and failed.

A magnificent athlete, Nashwan deserves a place among the elite for his versatility.

He possessed enough speed to win over a mile in the Newmarket Classic and the stamina to cope with an extra four furlongs at Epsom.

Nashwan's subsequent victory in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes clinched his senior status and his reputation remains undiminished.

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