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Sire Chaleureux
Dam Signorina
Grandsire Goodfellow
Damsire St Simon
Gender Mare
Foaled 1905
Country England
Color Bay
Breeder Chevalier Edoardo Ginistrelli
Owner Chevalier Edoardo Ginistrelli
Trainer Cavaliere Edoardo Ginistrelli
Record 13 starts, 3 wins, 0 places, 0 shows
Earnings $58,005
Signorinetta is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Signorina by Chaleureux. She was born around 1905 in England, and was bred by Chevalier Edoardo Ginistrelli.
Major wins
British Classic Race wins:
Epsom Derby (1908)
Epsom Oaks (1908)
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)

Signorinetta (1905-1928) was the racehorse that won the 1908 Epsom Derby.



She was bred, owned and trained by Cavaliere Edoardo Ginistrelli (1833 - 1920), who had come to England from Italy in the early 1880s after selling his stud and stable near Mount Vesuvius. Signorinetta's dam was called Signorina which had been unbeaten in nine races as a two-year-old. Signorina won two more the following season and was runner up in the Epsom Oaks. However she had not produced a live foal for 10 consecutive seasons, before foaling Signorino, a colt who was second in the 2000 Guineas and then third in the Derby.

At the same stables in Newmarket, Suffolk was a horse called Chaleureux, a nine guinea stallion, which was used as a 'teaser', ie his job was to detect when mares came into season. Ginistrelli noticed that Signorina neighed to Chaleureux each day when he passed her box on his exercise round. Mr Ginistrelli decided the two horses were in love and let them mate. In horse-breeding circles, allowing a prize mare to breed from an unregarded stallion was deemed total folly. However Ginistrelli based his decision on the "boundless laws of sympathy and love". Signorinetta was the resultant foal. Before the Derby Signorinetta was unplaced in her first five races as a juvenile. Her only win was as a two-year-old in a nursery handicap at Newmarket.

The 1908 Derby

Ginistrelli's methods of training had been subject to much laughter by other racing professionals.[1] Despite much scoffing at Ginistrelli's optimism, on 3 June 1908, ridden by William Bullock, she won the Epsom Derby by two lengths in 2min 39.8sec at odds of 100 to 1. To date Ginistrelli, along with Arthur Budgett are the only two successful owner/breeder/trainers of the Derby winner.

Signorinetta was only the fourth filly to win the race and to date only two fillies have won since. In 2002 The Observer rated her win as one of the ten greatest shocks in sporting history [2] and she is only one of the three 100-1 Derby winners.

A week before the Derby Lord Alfred Douglas dreamt that Signorinetta would win and so a placed a five pound bet on her, despite friends telling him not to.[3]

Later life

Two days after the Derby she won the Epsom Oaks at odds of 3-1, but never won another race after that.

By 1911 Ginistrelli was a poor man, living modestly in Newmarket. He wanted to return to Italy and was able to do this by selling 'the apple of his eye'. In December 1911 Ginistrelli sold Signorinetta to Lord Rosebery. She had been put up for auction before but did not make her reserve price of 7,500 guineas. It was said when she was sold, the reserve price was 10,000 guineas.[4] Signorinetta died at the age of 23 in 1928.[5]


  1. New York Times June 4 1908
  2. The Observer 7 April 2002
  3. From Alfred Douglas's Without Apology, 1938, quoted in The Oxford Book of Dreams (ed. Stephen Brook; 1983)
  4. New York Times December 17 1911
  5. Daily Mirror 31 May 2008


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