Which are the five British ‘Classic’ races?

Described by the Jockey Club as ‘the crown jewels of British Flat racing’, the ‘Classics’ are a series of generation-defining, Group 1 races, run over three different distances, on three different racecourses, usually between May and September. In chronological order, they are the 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas, run over a mile on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket on consecutive days in early May, the Oaks and the Derby, run over a mile and a half at Epsom on consecutive days in early June, and the St. Leger, run over an extended mile and three-quarters at Doncaster in September.

The 1,000 Guineas and the Oaks are restricted to three-year-old fillies, while the other three Classic races are officially open to three-year-old colts and fillies, but not geldings. However, it would be fair to say that fillies in the 2,000 Guineas or the Derby are few and far between.The 2,000 Guineas, Derby and St. Leger and the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and St. Leger, respectively, constitute the ‘Triple Crown’ and the ‘Fillies’ Triple Crown’, although the former was last won by Nijinsky in 1970 and the latter by Oh So Sharp in 1985.

The term ‘Classic’ was not coined until 1815, the year after the inauguration of the most recent of the five races, the 1,000 Guineas, in 1814. The 2,000 Guineas was established in 1809, the Derby in 1780, the Oaks in 1779 and the oldest of the quintet, the St. Leger, in 1776.