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Thursday 27th April 2023

Beginner’s Guide to the Stayers’ Triple Crown in UK Horse Racing

Royal Ascot

The British flat racing season has its very own ‘Triple Crown’. The Stayers’ Triple Crown is awarded to thoroughbreds who win all three of the most illustrious long-distance flat races in the UK horse racing calendar.

This differs from the original ‘Triple Crown’, awarded to horses that win the 2,000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby and the St Leger Stakes in the same season. If you’re unfamiliar with the Stayers’ Triple Crown, we delve deeper into the trio of races that comprise this landmark and the horses that have achieved this feat.

Ascot Gold Cup – 2 miles, 4 furlongs

Royal Ascot is considered one of the British horseracing’s most valuable race meetings. Last year’s festival attracted total prize money worth £8.65 million. According to Racing TV’s guide to the latest Royal Ascot free bets, this year’s prize purse is expected to grow further still to a whopping £9.52 million.

The showpiece event, the Gold Cup, is one of eight Group 1 races held throughout the five-day festival, and this alone carries £500,000+ in prize money.

Royal Ascot

As the Ascot Gold Cup is the longest of the three races within the Stayers’ Triple Crown, it’s regarded by many as the stiffest test of a flat racehorse’s stamina and durability.

Yeats is the most successful Gold Cup horse. In fact, he landed four successive Ascot Gold Cup victories between 2006 and 2009, etching his name into British racing folklore.

The 2023 Ascot Gold Cup pre-race favourite is Emily Dickinson, while former winner Subjectivist is also vying to return to the winner’s enclosure.

Goodwood Cup – 2 miles

The Goodwood Cup is the shortest of the three Stayers’ Triple Crown races at two miles. Established in 1808, this race has steadily grown in stature through the decades. It was a Group 2 race as of 1971 and returned to Group 2 in 1995 following a relegation to Group 3 status in 1985.

Six years ago, the Goodwood Cup was handed Group 1 status, with its prize purse promptly amplified to half a million pounds.

Historically, the Goodwood Cup was a three-mile race but was reduced to two miles and five furlongs and then just two miles in 1991. It marks the opening day of the Glorious Goodwood meeting, which is the biggest race meeting in Sussex each year.

Stradivarius is the most successful horse at this race, winning four back-to-back Goodwood Cups between 2017 and 2020.

Doncaster Cup – 2 miles, 2 furlongs

The Doncaster Cup concludes proceedings in the Stayers’ Triple Crown. It is the oldest horse race to be staged at Doncaster Racecourse and was inaugurated ten years prior to the St. Leger Stakes. Although it was originally hosted on Cantley Common before its switch to Doncaster Racecourse in the same year the St. Leger Stakes was founded.

Originally, the Doncaster Cup was raced over a mammoth four miles but has gradually declined in length over the centuries to its current distance.

There are weight allowances and penalties awarded in this race. Fillies and mares get a 3lb allowance, while former Group 1 and Group 2 winners get 5lb and 3lb weight penalties, respectively.

The winner of the Doncaster Cup receives direct entry into the Melbourne Cup at Flemington. In fact, it’s the only UK race to offer ballot-exemption qualification for Australia’s biggest race.

There are only seven horses in the history of British horseracing to land the Stayers’ Triple Crown. In fact, there’s only been one horse to do so in this century, with the John Gosden-trained Stradivarius reaching the milestone in 2019. Trainer Henry Cecil achieved back-to-back Stayers’ Triple Crowns with Le Moss in 1979 and 1980.

For thoroughbreds blessed with more stamina than raw pace, the Stayers’ Triple Crown remains the pinnacle for most long-distance horses, jockeys and trainers alike.

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