E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Blue Ribbon (The).
To be adorned with the blue ribbon, to be made knight of the garter, or adorned with a blue ribbon at the knee. Blue ribbon is also a temperance badge. (See CORDON BLEU.)
Lord Lansdown is to be made Knight of the Garter . though there is no vacancy. Lord Derby received the Blue Ribbon in 1859, although there was no vacancy.Truth: March, 1894.
The Blue Ribbon of the Turf. The Derby. Lord George Bentinck sold his stud, and found to his vexation that one of the horses sold won the Derby a few months afterwards. Bewailing his ill-luck, he said to Disraeli, Ah! you dont know what the Derby is. Yes, I do, replied Disraeli; it is the blue ribbon of the turf, alluding to the term cordon bleu (q.v.); or else to the blue garter, the highest of all orders.
The blue ribbon of the profession is the highest point of honour attainable therein. The blue ribbon of the Church is the Archbishopric of Canterbury, that in law is the office of Lord Chancellor.