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Retro: The Bassetlaw Lord who successfully fought corruption in horse racing

Monument on Welbeck Estate marks the area where Lord George Bentinck died

Monument on Welbeck Estate marks the area where Lord George Bentinck died

One of the key figures in the history of British horse racing hails from Bassetlaw.

Lord George Bentinck was the son of the Duke of Portland and, as well as serving in the Army, was MP for Kings Lynn for many years and, together with Benjamin Disraeli, led the protectionist opposition to the repeal of the Corn Laws.

Although that was not successful, it did force Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel’s resignation some weeks later and Bentinck later became Commons leader of the new Conservative party in the split that followed.

But his passion was racing and he soon became a leading figure in The Jockey Club, the sport’s ruling body in the UK.

A gambler, Lord Bentinck often lost substantial amounts but also enjoyed his fair share of success, winning seven Classics (one of British flat racing’s five big races – the 1,000 Guineas, 2,000 Guineas, the Derby, the Oaks and the St Ledger).

Three of the Classic wins came with Crucifix, who was unbeaten in 12 races.

But his biggest achievements were in rooting out the corruption that blighted the sport in Victorian times.

Lord Bentinck introduced flag starts to reduce the number of false starts in races and more informative racecards and number boards to make the sport more attractive to spectators.

His campaign against corruption reached a triumphant end in 1844 when he exposed the Derby winner as a four-year-old, instead of the permitted three, as the owners claimed, and successfully had it disqualified.

Born in 1802, he died in 1848 aged just 46 while walking on the Welbeck estate one evening.

Our picture shows the monument at Welbeck which marks the area where he died.

 

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