As the UK’s National Hunt racing season winds down, with the recent Jump Finale at Sandown Park drawing the curtain on another thrilling campaign, it is finally time for the flat racing season to come to the fore.
Flat meetings have been underway for a month or so now, but with the jumping campaign now out of the way, it is beginning to heat up. May is when the season officially starts, and there’s no better place to kick things off than at Newmarket for the first two British Classics of the year — the 1000 and 2000 Guineas.
The five Classics are the pinnacle of the flat season, and every trainer wants to land a winner in the truly traditional races — seeing their horses crowned one of the greatest of this generation.
So, with the first couple of Classics just a matter of days away, we have put together this guide to the 2022 renewals of the five races.
April 30th: 2000 Guineas
There are few locations in flat racing more iconic than the Rowley Mile, and with Newmarket being the sport’s headquarters, it’s more than a fitting location to host the first of the Classics.
Inaugurated in 1809, the one-mile race is open to three-year-old colts and fillies. It is Charlie Appleby’s Native Trail that currently leads the ante-post market for this year’s renewal on the best horse racing betting site — hoping to land the defending British flat racing Champion Trainer his first victory in the race.
May 1st: 1000 Guineas
Fans of the flat are spoiled for choice on the official opening weekend of the season, with the 1000 Guineas wrapping up the prestigious Newmarket meeting — which will be extended to three days for this time this year.
Also contested over a one-mile trip, the 1000 Guineas was formed five years after its counterpart in 1814 and is open to three-year-old fillies only. Aidan O’Brien has dominated the race in recent years, with five victories in the last six years. But John and Thady Gosden-trained Inspiral looks set to end his run of three successive wins.
June 3rd: The Oaks
Around a month later, there’s another doubleheader of British Classics — this time at Epsom Downs. The first of which is the Oaks. The second leg of the Fillies’ Triple Crown, following on from the 1000 Guineas, the one-mile, four-furlong race was inaugurated way back in 1779.
Again, Irish trainer O’Brien has dominated proceedings in recent times — winning six of the last 10 renewals. And, he’ll be hoping to extend his overall record to 10, as Tuesday, who recently won a Fillies Maiden at Naas, is being heavily backed in the horse racing tips.
June 4th: The Derby
The biggest of the Classics, and the most prestigious race on the entire calendar for that matter, the Derby takes centre at Epsom on June 4th. It will be a special occasion this year, with the Queen and the Royal Family set to be in attendance for the official commemoration of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee.
Formed in 1780, the blue riband event is contested over one-mile, four-furlongs and is open to both three-year-old colt and fillies. O’Brien and Appleby have battled it out for supremacy in recent years, with the former leading 3-2 since 2017, and the Irishman will be out to match Lester Piggot’s record (9) as Luxembourg is the ante-post favourite.
September 10th: The St Leger
There is over a two-month wait before the fifth and final Classic of the season takes place, with the St Leger wrapping things up at Doncaster on September 10th. The final leg for both the Triple Crown and the Fillies’ Triple Crown, the St Leger is the oldest of the Classics — formed in 1776.Charlie Appleby won his maiden St Leger last year, with Hurricane Lane winning the one-mile, six-furlong race, and it looks like the Godolphin trainer could double up this year — with New London the ante-post favourite at this very early stage.