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Horse Racing British Classics

The Classics in British Racing number five. They are horse races which are steeped in history and all five of them run through the Flat racing season. The events themselves are open only to three-year-old horses.

Some of them are only open to three-year-old Filles, while the rest of the Classics are open to both sexes. That means that to win one of the Classics puts a horse in tremendous standing of high regard. They are such prestigious, highly targeted races.

The Five British Classics

2,000 Guineas Stakes

The 2,000 Guineas Stakes is hosted in late April / Early May and is a 1-mile contest at Newmarket. The first-ever running on the 2,000 Guineas was hosted in 1809. The race is open to all three-year-olds.

1,000 Guineas Stakes

The 1,000 Guineas Stakes is hosted in late April / Early May and is a 1-mile contest at Newmarket. The race, which was first introduced in 1814 is open to only three-year-old fillies.

Epsom Oaks

The Oaks is hosted at the famous Epsom Downs and it has been running since 1779. The Epsom Oaks is a trip over 1m 4 furlongs 10 yards in total. The race is only for three-year-old fillies.

Epsom Derby

The Epsom Derby is hosted annually on the first Saturday in June. The trip is a 1 mile 4 furlongs 10-yard trip, just as the Oaks is. The difference between the two races is that the Derby is open to both sexes.

St Leger Stakes

The final British Classic is the St Leger Stakes, which is hosted in September. The St Leger is contested over 1m 6f 132 yards at Doncaster. This is the oldest of all of the British Classic, having been in operation since 1776.

The Triple Crown

Three of the races from the British Classics form the famous English Triple Crown. The Triple crown is made up of the 2,000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby and the St Leger.

Winning one of those races is a big deal, winning all three elevates any horse through the stratosphere of legendary status. There is no higher thing to achieve in thoroughbred racing than landing the English Triple Crown.

Triple Crown History

The first-ever winner of the Triple Crown was West Australian in 1853. When Nijiksy pulled off the feat in 1970, he was the first one to do it since Bahram in 1935. As time has gone on, it has become tougher and tougher to pull off the Triple Crown.

In 1902 Sceptre managed to win four of the Classic, landing the two Guineas, the Oaks and the St Leger. Formosa also won the same four races but had actually finished in a 2,000 Guineas dead heat.

In the modern era, it’s not very common for a horse to actually target all three legs of the race. The extended distance of the final leg in the St Leger Stakes makes things very difficult for a horse to deliver the hattrick.

The amount of time between races and keeping a horse in peak form is another massive challenge. Each of the legs of the Triple Crown offers increasingly tougher challenges.

Fillies Triple Crown

There is a Fillies Triple Crown as well, which is made up of the 1,000 Guineas Stakes, Epsom Oaks and St Leger Stakes. The first two of those races are open for fillies only.

The St Leger is open to both sexes so that pits any filly who has indeed won the first two legs of the Fillies Triple Crown, has to take on the boys for that final leg.

No horse has won the Fillies Triple Crown since 1985. The first-ever filly to pull off the feat was Formosa in 1868.

2019 British Classics Review

Magna Grecia landed the win in the 2019 2,000 Guineas at the start of the 2019 British Classics. That was the second consecutive win for the partnership of jockey Donnacha O’Brien and trainer Aidan O’Brien. They had teamed up for the 2018 success with Saxon Warrior in the race.

The 1,000 Guineas was taken by Hermosa, again trainer Aiden O’Brien winning another Classic. Wayne Lordan took the ride, his second win in the last three years of the 1,000 Guineas.

Jockey Frankie Dettori claimed a win on Anapurna in the Epsom Oaks for trainer John Gosden. That was the second time in three years that the jockey/trainer partnership had struck a win in the Oaks.

Trainer Aiden O’Brien was on the mark again in the 2019 Epsom Derby. His charge Anthony Van Dyck delivered the win with Seamie Heffernan in the saddle. That was the fifth win in seven years for O’Brien at the Derby.

The big Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster was won by Logician with Frankie Dettori in the saddle for trainer John Gosden. That was the sixth time that Frankie Dettori had ridden a winner at the St Leger.

2020 Classics

There was uncertainty at the time of writing about the running of the 2020 British Classics. That is because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

British horse racing has been on shutdown and no action happened the start of the Flat season in March.