UK Triple Crown
The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing in the UK is the most prestigious achievement of any horse in UK racing. Three important races for three-year-olds make up the Triple Crown, each one also a British Classic Race. They are the 2,000 Guineas Stakes in late April to early May, the Epsom Derby in the first weekend of June, and the St. Leger Stakes in September. Very few horses have managed to pull off a victory in all three races, and with the current tendency for specialization, it seems more and more unlikely that a horse will take the Triple Crown in the near future.
First won in 1853 by West Australian, the Triple Crown has only been earned by 15 horses in the more than 150 years that all three races have been run. Two of these were jockeyed by Steve Donoghue and three were trained by John Porter. Many of the winners of the Triple Crown won it in the first 50 years of its inception. In fact, in the past century, only 5 horses have won the Triple Crown, the last being Nijinsky II in 1970.
The 2,000 Guineas Stakes is the first test of any horse that hopes to take the Triple Crown. At a mere mile long on the Rowley Mile course of the Newmarket Racecourse, itís a race thatís brief but furious. It is quite fitting that the most highly prized achievement in UK horse racing starts in Englandís home of racing, at Newmarket. While it used to be contested by both colts and fillies, more often fillies are simply put into the 1,000 Guineas Stakes instead, which is exclusive to them, as the last filly to win the 2,000 Guineas Stakes won in 1944.
To continue on the way toward a Triple Crown, a horse next needs to win the Epsom Derby. This race is famed as one of the most hotly contested flat races in the world, and many horses prepare for the race by racing in a few of the derby trials beforehand. It is run over 1 mile 4 furlongs 10 yards, though this has not always been the case. The Epsom Derby is held at Epsom Downs Racecourse in Epsom, Surrey.
The final stretch of the Triple Crown is the St. Leger Stakes, the most punishing of the three Triple Crown races at 1 mile 6 furlongs 132 yards. One reason that the Triple Crown has not been won in so long is due to a change in the choice of horses that run this race, with strong contenders often being placed in high profile overseas races. Regardless, the final test for a horse on its way to a Triple Crown is the St. Leger Stakes.
Who knows when the next champion will earn a Triple Crown? It looked possible in 2007 when Jim Bolger began aiming his star colt, Teofilo, at winning the Triple Crown. Unfortunately, not all went according to plan, and so we must wonder at whether another horse will ever again forge the Triple Crown.