British flat racing - meaning the races are run on 'the flat', without jumps - are the most traditional form of horse racing. The Classics, or Classic Races, are a series of five flat races, held annually and restricted to horses which are three years of age. The five races, which are subdivided into two separate competitions, the Triple Crown and the Fillies' Triple crown, are held at three different race courses; Newmarket, Epsom Downs and Doncaster. The Classic Races are so popular that bookmakers all across the UK offer year-round antepost betting on the events; allowing punting professionals to benefit from excellent early odds.
The five Classic Races in the United Kingdom are:
This race is held at the famous Newmarket Racecourse, on the Rowley Mile, in late April or early May, and is run over a distance of one mile. The 2,000 Guineas Stakes was first held on 18th April 1809. It is open to fillies and colts, female and male three-year-olds, and is the first race of the Classics season. The 2,000 Guineas Stakes is also part of the Triple Crown, a separate cup comprised of the three classic races which allow horses of either sex to enter.
Read More about the 2,000 Guineas Stakes »
The second race of the Classics also takes place at Newmarket's Rowley Mile at the same time as the 2,000 Guineas Stakes (late April or early March). The 1,000 Guineas Stakes was first introduced on 28th April 1814, five years after the 2,000 Guineas Stakes was established. It is open to fillies only, female horses of three years, which makes it part of the Fillies' Triple Crown, the fillies-only version of the Triple Crown mentioned above. As the 2,000 Guineas Stakes, it is run over the course of one mile.
Read More about the 1,000 Guineas Stakes »
The race, conducted at Epsom Downs racecourse in Surrey, is the third of the Classics races, as well as the second event in the Fillies' Triple Crown. Like the 1,000 Guineas Stakes it is a contest for female three-year-olds only. The Epsom Oaks race was established in 1779, one year before the Derby Stakes premiered. It takes its name from 'The Oaks' a home rented by the 12th Earl of Derby in the Epsom area. The race takes place over a distance of one mile, four furlongs and ten yards.
Read More about the Epsom Oaks »
Also known as simply The Derby to locals and as the Epsom Derby to the international audience, is the fourth race of the Classics series. It is run at Epsom Downs over a distance of one mile, four furlongs and ten yards - as the Epsom Oaks -; a meeting taking place annually in early June. As it is open to colts and fillies, it is also the second leg of the Triple Crown. The very first Epsom Derby was held on 4th May 1780, with Diomed, a colt from the stables of Lord Bunbury taking first place.
Read More about the Epsom Derby »
The last race of the Classics, the Triple Crown and- strangely - the Fillies' Triple Crown is hosted at Doncaster, and run over a distance of one mile, six furlongs and 132 yards every September. The St Leger Stakes is the longest of the Classic races and was introduced in 1777, named in honour of local army officer and politician Anthony St. Leger.
Read More about the St Leger Stakes »