Like many races of the day, the Derby of 1859 was not without controversy. Before the race the main challengers to Sir Joseph Hawley's Musjid, who started as 9-4 favourite, were The Promised Land, winner of the Two Thousand Guineas and ridden by William Day, and Trumpeter, ridden by Alfred Day. Coming into the straight The Promised Land held a good lead over Trumpeter in second, with Musjid well behind. Over the last two furlongs however, Musjid and Marionette came through very strongly to finish first and second. The controversy surrounded the performances of The Promised Land and Trumpeter who, ridden by the Day brothers, finished poorly with speculation that Alfred Day had an interest in Marionette winning. To some degree however, such rumours were put into context by the fact that the favourite still won. Musjid was one of Sir Joseph Hawley's four Derby winners (see lot 45).
The detail in these pictures is particularly fine and an interesting aspect of 'The Finish' is the way in which police can be seen marshalling the crowd closing in behind the field - a feature of racing at the time and particularly at Epsom.