St Leger Stakes

The St Leger Stakes is a group one flat race held in Septemeber of every year at the Doncaster racecourse in the UK. The 6 furlongs 115 yards race attracts some of the best racing talent of the day, on account that it’s a race with a reputation that proceed it.

The first St Leger Stakes took place in 1776 and was won by an unnamed filly, who was named Allabaculia after the event. The race itself is devised by and named after army officer Anthony St Leger. It wasn’t long before the profile of the race increased, in part due to the 1880 Derby – St Leger double by a thoroughbred named Champion.

In the same way that this double drew interest, the St Leger also forms part of two triples, namely the triple crown. The triple crown consist of the 2000 Guineas, the Derby and the St Leger Stakes. Winners of the triple crown number just 15 since 1853 and include such lumunaries as Nijinsky. There is also a fillies triple crown, made up of the 1000 Guineas, The Oaks and 2000 Guineas.

Both of the triple crown combos are designed to highlight racing excellence. The fact that the St Leger Stakes is also part of the British Classics takes that a step further. No horse has yet won all five of these jewels in the crown of British racing (1000 Guineas, 2000 Guineas, Epsom Oaks, Epsom Stakes, St Leger Stakes).

In recent years the combo of jockey Ryan Moore and trainer Aidan O’Brien have had quite some success in the St Leger, winning in both 2017 on Capri and 2018 with Kew Gardens.

2000 Guineas

The 2000 Guineas Stakes is a group one flat race for three year old colts and fillies. It’s a much loved race drenched in tradition and is also one of the five British Classics, a group of races that have attracted the cream of the crop of the racing world for literally hundreds of years. The 2000 Guineas also forms part of the Triple Crown which consists of the 2000 Guineas, The Derby and the St Leger. The Triple Crown came to be as result of West Australian winning all three races way back in 1853. In fact, only 15 horses have ever won all three races.

The one mile 2000 Guineas takes place in either April or May of each year at Newmarket racecourse. The race was first run in 1809 (prior to the first 1000 Guineas) . It wasn’t long before it had established itself as a firm fixture in the racing calendar and a race that jockeys, trainers and owners alike all had their eye on. The number of 2000 Guineas clones around the world speaks to its influence on the world stage. From the Australian Guineas to the Poule d’Essai des Poulains it’s a worldwide affair.

There are trial races which can act as a path to the 2000 Guineas such as the Craven Stakes and Greenham Stakes, though for some it’s their first race of the season. The purse for the race is £500,000, with £280,000+ going to the winner, the identical payout as the 1000 Guineas.

Leading trainer of the 2000 Guineas is Aidan O’Brien with nine wins, and memorable winners of the event include Nijinsky in 1970 and the legendary Henry Cecil trained Frankel in 2011.


Grand National

In terms of name recognision the Grand National is surely second to none. This national hunt race held at Aintree racecourse in Liverpool is emmersely popular with both ardent horse racing fans, but also those not typically interesting in following the sport. From work sweepstakes, to relatives scanning newspapers to place a small wager on a selection they like the name of, the nations eyes turn to the TV screen in their millions during the Grand National which takes place in April of each year.

The Grand National is run over a 4 miles 514 yards course, and those taking part are tasked with jumping 30 fences over two laps. The fences are of various levels of difficulty, but some of them are notoriously difficult such as Becher’s Brook and The Chair. The first Grand National took place in 1839 when the event was founded by Waterloo Hotel proprieter William Lynn on land he’d leased in Aintree. The Grand National meeting (and especially interest in the Grand Nation race itself) has gone from strength to strength since to the point where it now reaches worldwide audiences upward of 500 million viewers.

As with any event steeped in history the Grand National has seen several eras, or moments, that will forever be remembered. One of the first was the 100-1 win from Foinavon in 1967. Foinavon wasn’t given a hope beforehand, so much so that his owner didn’t even bother to turn up to watch the race. However in a stroke of astonishing good fortune while he was lagging 100 yards behind the leading pack, a loose horse veered across the field at the 23rd fence unseating some, and sending others in all directions. John Buckingham simply steered Foinavon around the carnage to claim victory.

Perhaps the era racing fans are most fond of though is the Red Rum period. Red Rum was originally bought  as a yearling for just £420 and later by Ginger McCain (for Noel le Mare) for £6,300. McCain persevered with the horse through period of injury and it certainly paid off as Red Rum is today the only horse to have won the Grand National three times (in 1973, 1974 and 1977).

Modern highlights of the Grand National include Ginger McCain’s renewed success at the National 31 years on, with a win with Amberleigh House ridden by Graham Lee, and in 2004 Venetia William’s Mon Mome winning at  huge odds of 100-1. The 2018 winner of the event was 10-1 shot Tiger Roll, ridden by Davy Russell and trained by George Elliot.

Epsom Derby

The Epsom Derby takes place in June of each year over a 1m 4f 6y course at the Epsom Downs racecourse in Epsom, Surrey. UK. The group one race is steeped in history; and the first Derby was held in 1780.

It forms part of the Triple Crown which consists of the 2000 Guineas, The Derby and the St Leger Stakes. The Triple Crown was introduced or rather coined as way of ascertaining excellence in racing and it certainly has demonstrated that over the years. Only 15 horses have won all three Triple Crown races starting with West Australian in 1853, and most recently the legendary Nijinsky in 1970.

The Derby, named after the 12th Earl of Derby, is also one of the five British Classics, group one races for three year olds that are designed to display the pinnacle of achievement against peers. The two additional races that make up the British Classics are the 1000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks. Winning any of these five races is an indication of very significant ability. Only one horse, Sceptre has won four of the Classics (in 1902), incidentally the Derby was the only race that Spectre didn’t win.

Historically the race used to be paired with the Epsom fair, which by all accounts sounds like a riproaring affair that attracted people from all over the UK, but especially London. Charles Dickens is known to have visited the fair in the 1850s and enjoyed its mix of magicians, clowns and entertainers.

The Derby is held in such high regard that it’s been used as a template of sorts for races around the world, there would be no Kentucky Derby without the Epsom Derby. The purse for the event matches the prestige at £1.5 million in 2018, with £850,650 going to the winner.

With such an illustrious history it takes special individuals to stand out in this event, but one such person is Lester Piggott who won the Derby a stunning 9 times between 1954 (on Never Say Die) and 1983 (on Teenoso). He also had a memorable win on Sir Ivor. Interestingly each of his nine wins came on a different horse.