What are the five horse racing Classics?
2023 Epsom Derby runners, horse racing

What are the five horse racing Classics?

Winning one of the British horse racing Classics is the aim of all major Flat owners, trainers and jockeys – and there are only five chances each season.

Royal patrons, oil-rich Middle East rulers and billionaire businessmen try to breed or buy equine stars good enough to compete in these contests.

Only three-year-olds can challenge for these most prestigious of prizes, so what are the five horse racing Classics?

2000 Guineas

Open to three-year-old colts and fillies, the 2000 Guineas is run over Newmarket’s Rowley Mile in early May.

It was first staged in 1809, when Wizard passed the post in front. Jockey Jem Robinson dominated the early renewals, riding nine winners between 1825 and 1848.

In recent times, Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore syndicate of owners have been the dominant force. O’Brien reached double figures with Magna Grecia in 2019.

Due to being scheduled towards the start of the season, last term’s battle-hardened top two-year-olds often have an advantage over later-developing types.

Check out our feature on six of the best 2000 Guineas winners!

2000 Guineas winners, horse racing, famous 2000 Guineas winners

1000 Guineas

Restricted to fillies, the 1000 Guineas was established by the Jockey Club five years after the 2000 Guineas, but the same trainer/jockey/owner combination again claimed the inaugural running, with Charlotte prevailing for Bill Clift, Tom Perren and Christopher Wilson.

Robert Robson trained nine champion fillies from 1818 to 1827, although one enjoyed a walkover, while George Fordham partnered a record seven winners between 1859 and 1883.

Again staged over the Rowley Mile at Newmarket, successful fillies usually need a strong blend of speed and stamina.

Check out our feature on five star 1000 Guineas winners!

The Derby

Referred to as the Blue Riband, because this one-and-a-half-mile event is the creme de la creme of British horse racing and the most prestigious of all five Classic races.

The Derby, staged in early June, famously got its name following the toss of a coin between the 12th Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury. Diomed, owned by Bunbury, earned just over £1,000 in prize money for landing the first renewal in 1780.

Legendary jockey Lester Piggott holds the record for the most winning rides with nine, while Ballydoyle handler O’Brien has again worked his way to the top of the training charts in recent years.

Epsom’s undulating course, uphill finish and the severe camber of the home straight make this the supreme test of a thoroughbred’s ability and agility, while the lengthy parade tests any horse’s temperament.

horse racing classics

The Oaks

First run in 1779, when Bridget obliged for the afore mentioned 12th Earl of Derby, the Oaks is run over the same distance as the Derby at Epsom Downs and is named after a local estate once owned by Lord Derby himself.

Robert Robson, known as ‘the Emperor of Trainers’, saddled 13 winners of the second Classic restricted just to fillies between 1802 and 1825. O’Brien is not far behind, though, having reached double figures when Tuesday completed a hat-trick for the Irish handler in 2022.

His Snowfall set a new landmark with regards the winning distance when romping home by 16 lengths 12 months earlier. Frank Buckle remains the leading jockey due to nine successful rides from 1797 to 1823.

St Leger

The oldest of all five British Classics, with Allabaculia coming out on top in the inaugural running back in 1776 for former Prime Minister the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham.

Stamina is the name of the game in this contest, scheduled for September each year and staged over 1m 6f 110yards at Doncaster racecourse in Yorkshire.

John Scott holds the record for training the most winners with 16 between 1827 and 1862, while his brother Bill was the successful jockey on nine occasions.

The race completes the Triple Crown for both sexes, with Nijinsky the last colt to land the 2000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger treble in 1970, while Oh So Sharp did the fillies’ equivalent in 1985 after previously claiming the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks.

Due to its autumn slot, softish ground at Town Moor often makes staying this extended trip an even tougher test.

horse racing classics

Join bwin today and receive up to £20 money back as a FreeBet if your first wager (3+ selections at odds of 1/2 (1.5) or greater) is a loser! Terms and conditions apply.

Horse racing betting