Born in Covington, Kentucky on May 1, 1960, Stephen Mark ‘Steve’ Cauthen arrived in Britain in the spring of 1979 at the invitation of legendary owner and breeder Robert Sangster. Although, by his own admission, not ‘totally comfortable’ with riding on this side of the Atlantic for the first three years, ‘The Kentucky Kid’ rode a winner at the first time of asking at Salisbury on April 7, 1979. Indeed, within a month he had won his first British Classic, the 2,000 Guineas, on Tap On Wood, trained by Barry Hills.
Cauthen first became Champion Jockey in 1984, with 130 winners but, at the start of the 1985 season, left Barry Hills to replace Lester Piggott as first jockey to Henry, later Sir Henry, Cecil. On June 5, 1985, he won the Derby for the first time on Slip Anchor, owned by Lord Howard de Walden. A ten-length winner of the Lingfield Derby Trial, Slip Anchor ‘improved a stone’ between Lingfield and Epsom, according to Cauthen, and had little trouble justifying favouritism in the Derby itself. Four lengths clear at halfway, Slip Anchor went further clear rounding Tattenham Corner and passed the post seven lengths of his nearest pursuer, Law Society.
Two years later, Cauthen won the Derby again, on Reference Point, owned by Louis Freedman, in not dissimilar fashion. Cauthen once again took the race by the scruff of the neck and, although never more than a length or two ahead, the 6/4 favourite bravely repelled challengers, the closest of which proved to be Most Welcome, who threw down a strong challenge in the closing stages. However, when asked for maximum effort, Reference Point drew away again to win by a length and a half.