Attila, foaled in 1839, was sired by Colwick out of Progress by Langar. In 1842, Attila won the Derby Stakes at Epsom, a race that was won the following year by Cotherstone (see lot 13 in this sale). Attila was later exported to Germany but died on the way.
Horse racing has been recorded at Epsom Downs since the 17th Century. The race programs traditionally comprised of races run in two to four mile heats. The 'Derby Stakes' (for three year olds run over one and a half miles) was reputedly named after the Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury tossed a coin to decide the name. The coin landed in Lord Derby's favour. There were 36 subscribers for the original event at fifty guineas each and of these a total of nine horses went to post on 4th May 1780. Although Sir Charles Bunbury lost the toss of the coin, his colt, Diomed, won this inaugural running. In 1784 the distance was increased to a mile and a half. From this date it was run on the same course as the 'Oaks', and, like the 'Oaks', was run at Newmarket during the war years (1915-1918 and 1940-1945).