Chestnut is one of the list of official colours used when a horse is registered prior to racing but is a very small part of the horse identification process.
Colours officially acceptable are (in no particular order) grey, bay, chestnut, roan, brown, black and white (which is exceptionally rare and usually classified as grey).
Chestnut is described as a reddish brown or ginger coat with a matching tail and mane, making chestnut racehorses some of the most striking on the racecourse, especially when the sun shines on a well-groomed thoroughbred, leaving their coat sparkling to the naked eye.
Chestnut is only a means of identifying a backed horse among a crowd during a race, along with other specifications such as jockey colours and race cloth. There are however supposed-novelty races for greys only, so it’s not impossible that in future there will be races limited to other colours, included chestnut horses.
Despite racing folklore suggesting chestnut-coloured horses can be hot-headed and slightly crazy, some of the best racehorses of all time were chestnuts.
Hyperion won the Derby and the St Leger and went on to be Champion sire six times in the last century, Nashwan won the 2000 Guineas, the Derby and the Coral Eclipse, the Minstrel and Shahrastani both won the English and Irish Derbies and over jumps, Mr Frisk won the 1990 Grand National for trainer Kim Bailey.
Other decorated chestnut horses include Bosra Sham (1000 Guineas), Lammtarra (Epsom Derby), New Approach (Epsom Derby) and Grundy (Irish 2000 Guineas and the English and Irish Derbies).
Legendary Gold Cup winner Denman, meanwhile, was a very dark chestnut who accrued over £1,000,000 in prize money during his career.
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