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The Guineas is the name of the first two Classics of the season, both run over one mile at Newmarket at the start of May. Only horses aged three are eligible to run.
The 2,000 Guineas is the colt’s version and the 1,000 Guineas is for fillies. However, fillies can run in the 2,000 Guineas but they rarely do. The Guineas Classics are the first leg of the Triple Crown for colts and fillies. The other three Classics are the Oaks, Derby and St Leger.
The main trials for the Guineas take place in the autumn of a horse’s juvenile year and in April at the Craven meeting at Newmarket.
The Pattern in European flat racing consists of Group races of which there are three bands. The Classics are the pinnacle of the flat season and the most important races in the Pattern. The five English Classics have versions all around the world and most jurisdictions that have racing also have a 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas in the programme.
Bookmakers offer ante post odds for the Classics several months before the races. There is much speculation about the winter favourite for the Guineas, and part of the intrigue is the potential growth and development of horses from aged two to three.
Generally, the major stables and rich owners dominate the Guineas and Aidan O’Brien has a particularly good record in both races. Horses that run well in these races are often targeted at the Derby and Oaks and bookmakers reduce their odds accordingly.
These races are run over four furlongs further so it is often a horse that runs well in the Guineas but is more suited to further that attracts betting interest. Winners of the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas rarely race after their three-year-old season because sending these horses to stud is more lucrative.