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The 2,000 Guineas Stakes dates back to 1809 and is named after the prize fund of the inaugural event. It is now a Group 1 race, run over Newmarket`s Rowley Mile Course in early May. As of 2012, it is the first of the 5 UK “Classic” events of the season. It is open to 3-y-o colts and fillies, although fillies seldom take part, especially since the fillies` equivalent, the 1,000 Guineas, has had equal prize money since 2001. 2009 winner, Sea The Stars, is perhaps the best-known of recent winners, going on to win the Derby and Prix de l`Arc de Triomphe.
The 1,000 Guineas Stakes is the fillies` equivalent of the 2,000 Guineas. The 2nd Classic of the season, (as of 2012, scheduled for the Sunday following the 2,000 Guineas) this is the first leg of the Fillies` “Triple Crown,” completed by the Oaks and St. Leger. The last horse to complete this rare treble was the Henry Cecil-trained Oh So Sharp in 1985.
The Derby Stakes is the most prestigious flat race run in the UK. Run over 1½ miles at Epsom Racecourse, on the first Saturday in June, it is open to 3-y-o colts and fillies, although fillies seldom contest the race, with only 6 female winners since the inaugural event of 1779. The ill-fated Shergar won the 1981 renewal by a record 10 lengths.
The Oaks Stakes is run over the Derby course, but is restricted to 3-y-o fillies. As of 2012, it is scheduled for the Friday preceding the Derby. The Dick Hern-trained Sun Princess won by a record 12 lengths in 1983.
The Gold Cup
Run over 2½ miles on the Thursday of the Royal Ascot meeting in mid-June, the Gold Cup is the premier long-distance flat race in the UK. Those enjoying particular success include jockey Lester Piggott, with 11 wins from 1957 to 1982 and trainer Aidan O`Brien, who sent out Yeats to collect the prize in 2006-2009 and won it again with Fame and Glory in 2011.
National Hunt (Jumps) Races
The Grand National is undoubtedly the UK`s most famous race and is renowned worldwide. The 4½ mile steeplechase is run annually at Aintree Racecourse, near Liverpool. The marathon trip, coupled with Aintree`s unique spruce-topped fences, make it a searching test of horse and rider and a thrilling sight for spectators. The most famous winner of the race was Red Rum, successful in 1973, 1974 and 1977, along with gallantly carrying top weight into the runner-up berth in 1975 and 1976.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
Run over 3m 2½f on Cheltenham`s New Course, the Gold Cup provides a fitting climax to the Cheltenham Festival, held annually in mid-March. It is the most prestigious UK steeplechase. There have been several multiple winners of the race, including 5-times winner Golden Miller (1932-36), 3-times winners Cottage Rake (1948-50), the legendary Arkle (1964-66) and Best Mate (2002-2004). Kauto Star became the first horse to regain the Gold Cup “crown,” winning in 2007, beaten by stable mate Denman in 2008, but winning again in 2009.
Run over 2m ½f on Cheltenham`s Old Course on the opening Tuesday of the March Festival, the Champion Hurdle is the major hurdling prize of the year. Notable winners include Dawn Run in 1984, the only horse to complete the Champion Hurdle-Gold Cup double and 3-time winner Istabraq (1998-2000), denied a crack at a 4-timer by the foot-and-mouth outbreak of 2001.
Formerly known as the Stayers` Hurdle, the World Hurdle is the feature race of the Thursday of the Cheltenham Festival. The Grade 1, 3-mile race is the most important long-distance event over the smaller obstacles. Notable recent winners include Inglis Drever (2005, 2007-8) and reigning champion Big Buck`s (2009-11), seeking a 4th consecutive win in 2012.
King George VI Chase
The inaugural King George VI Chase took place at Kempton Park Racecourse in February 1937, named in honour of the new British monarch. It is now a Grade 1 steeplechase, ranked by many as only being surpassed by the Cheltenham Gold Cup in terms of prestige. The 3-mile event requires competitors to negotiate 18 obstacles. Numerous horses have been successful on two or more occasions, perhaps the most notable being 4-times winner Desert Orchid (1986, 1988-90) and 5-time winner Kauto Star (2006-2011).
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For any of these leading UK races, reliable racing tips can prove to be a valuable addition to any punter`s armoury.
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