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A Classic is the highest level of racing on the flat. There are five English Classics while other racing jurisdictions have similar named races with the same conditions.
Only horses aged three are allowed to run in the Classics. Horses can race in the UK from the age of two and often Classic contenders are identified in the main trials towards the end of a horse’s first year in training.
The five Classics are Group 1 races and colts and fillies are eligible. Geldings (neutered male horses) cannot run in the Classics because the races are important for the breeding industry. Fillies can run in all the Classics but colts can only compete in the three for their gender.
The five British Classics are as follows:
The colt’s Triple Crown features the 2,000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger, and no horse has won all three races since 1970. It is difficult task because a horse must be kept in training and at his peak from May to September and beat the best horses of the generation over one mile to one mile and six furlongs.
Even though fillies can run in the colt’s Classics it is rare so the fillies’ Triple Crown is the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and St Leger. The last horse to win all three races was Oh So Sharp in 1985. It is theoretically possible for a filly to run in all five Classics but this has never happened. The Guineas and Oaks are run at the same meetings as the colt’s Classics so running in both is not feasible.
The range of tracks and distances makes it extremely difficult for a horse to win three in the same season but it has happened. A horse must have speed and stamina to be competitive in three Classics. The races also attract plenty of ante-post betting.