In 1841, an unscrupulous villain, Abraham Goodman Levy, bought two horses: Maccabeus, a yearling, and a colt foal named Running Rein who was entered in the Derby. Later, after the application of a hairdresser’s black dye and the deliberate duplication of a scar on Running Rein, the two colts appeared identical. A year before the Derby, Goodman switched Running Rein for Maccabeus, who then three, easily won a 2-y-o race at Newmarket.
On the Saturday before the Derby, a signed petition was given to the Epsom stewards requesting that Running Rein’s mouth be examined by a vet to determine his age. On the advice of Captain (later Admiral) Rous, the stewards allowed the horse to run, stating that if he won an inquiry would follow before any payment of stakes.
Due to the hard ground, the race was run in clouds of dust, with Running Rein withstanding Orlando’s challenge to win by three-quarters of a length. But within an hour, the runner-up’s owner Colonel Jonathan Peel supported by Lord George Bentinck, lodged an objection and then proceeded to take legal action against Mr A. Wood, the innocent owner of the winner. Much confusion followed, before the civil case of Wood v Peel held at the Court of the Exchequer on 1 July, 1844 settled the matter. After hearing all the evidence, the Judge demanded they “produce the horse”. The plaintiff and his counsel, not able to comply, withdrew from the case, leaving Peel and Bentinck triumphant. Orlando was awarded the Derby, while Goodman and his cronies, who
had stood to win £50,000, fled to France.
Finally, Lord George Bentinck was rewarded for his diligence by a testimonial, from which was founded the Bentinck Benevolent Fund for the needy dependants of trainers and jockeys.