The new flat season began in Europe at Newmarket last weekend, where Aidan O’Brien produced a remarkable double by claiming the opening two Classics of the campaign. The Irish trainer triumphed in the 2000 Guineas and 1000 Guineas with Churchill and Winter, respectively.
With so much more to look forward to in the rest of the year, here is a look at the biggest races on the calendar in Europe, which horses from all over the world will be looking to claim.
Oaks (2400m, Epsom)
The best three-year-old fillies battle it out each June at Epsom over the distance of 2400m in what is the biggest race of the season for that sex. Often, the winner of the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket will take the step up in trip as connections look to secure a prestigious double.
Epsom is the perfect test of the thoroughbred racehorse as not only are the horse’s speed and stamina tested on the Downs in Surrey but they also have to tackles the undulations at the track. The winner of this race generally goes on to be the star of the division each season.
Derby (2400m, Epsom)
The Derby is the most prestigious flat race on the UK calendar and it is the race which really defines a horse’s career. It is the one contest that every jockey and trainer want to win each season. Unlike the Oaks, both fillies and colts can feature in this race, although it generally made up of the latter.
Credit: Newmarket Racecourse via Twitter
O’Brien is the most successful trainer in the modern history of this race and he has the ante-post favourite this year with the 2000 Guineas winner Churchill, who is in the horse racing betting at 3/1 to prevail and give his Irish trainer his sixth success.
St Leger (2800m, Doncaster)
Doncaster’s St Leger is the oldest of the five Classics in the UK and the one which the longest distance – at 2800m. If a horse can win the 2000 Guineas/1000 Guineas and Derby/Oaks, they remain on course for the Triple Crown going into the Yorkshire track in September. The last colt to complete the Triple Crown was Nijinsky in 1970. Camelot came close more recently in 2012 but had to settle for second in the St Leger.
Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe (2400m, Longchamp)
The Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe takes place each year in France at Longchamp, although it was held at Chantilly in 2016 as Longchamp was being renovated. The best horses from around Europe and beyond travel to Paris in an open-age group contest in what is considered as the most prestigious race on the continent.
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Some of the greatest turf horses in history have been successful in this race, including Mill Reef, Dancing Brave and Sea The Stars. French trainer Andre Fabre holds the record with the most wins, with seven successes, while in 2014, Treve added her name to the illustrious number of horses which have won the race twice.
Other mentions in Europe include the Royal Ascot in June and Glorious Goodwood in July. They are two of the biggest meetings each year and feature a number of Group One races across the different divisions.