It appears there is light at the end of the tunnel and horse racing in the UK and Ireland will hopefully be making a return at some point this month. Fans will have expected to see the results of the first Classics of the year – the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas – last weekend, but they are to be rescheduled for the first weekend in June. While many of us long to turn to the sports pages of the newspaper to find out the results from yesterday, let’s take a look back at some of the best horses to have raced at Newmarket’s famous festival.
The Irish-trained bay made history in 1970 and completed a feat that no colt has managed to replicate since – winning the Triple Crown. The previous season was his first in Europe and Nijinsky was unbeaten in five races. Consequently, he was the outright favourite in the 1970 edition of the 2,000 Guineas. Up against 13 opponents, Nijinsky was saddled by legendary jockey Lester Piggott. Having stayed on the outside, while Yellow God and Amba Rama challenged for the lead, the Canadian-bred made a charge after six furlongs and there was no catching him. Nijinsky pulled clear and won the Guineas by two-and-a-half lengths from Yellow God. He was then made favourite for the Epsom Derby, winning that and completing the Triple Crown with success in the St. Leger at Doncaster.
Oh So Sharp (1985)
Anything colts can do, fillies can do just as well. In 1985, Oh So Sharp completed the Triple Crown – the first filly to do so for 30 years and the last to win the series as it stands. Her racing career only spanned two seasons, but she won seven of her nine races, of which she was always the favourite. Oh So Sharp was one of 17 horses competing in the 1,000 Guineas and it wasn’t a great start for the filly, on unusually firm ground. But jockey Steve Cauthen dug deep and in the race’s closing stages produced a powerful late run to challenge. A triple-way photo finish was required and the Irish-bred favourite was the winner by a short head. After winning the Epsom Oaks by six lengths and the St. Leger Stakes by three-quarters of a length, the filly secured the Triple Crown and was then retired, as a result of a decline in form.
Described as ‘The greatest race horse in history’, Frankel won all 14 of his races and entered each one as the favourite. His performance in 2011’s 2,000 Guineas has also been named as ‘One of the greatest displays on a British racecourse’. It was Frankel’s second Grade 1 race and his second at Newmarket – and he raced into a commanding lead, shocking his opposition immediately. At around the halfway stage, his lead was unassailable at 15 lengths and as he reached the home straight, Frankel and Tom Queally in the saddle were unchallenged. He finished six lengths ahead of his nearest challenger, to rapturous applause from the crowd. The Henry Cecil-trained superstar went on to win eight more races before being retired, but the margin of victory and overall level of performance in the 2,000 Guineas stands out as one of the greatest in the history of racing.