Has any horse ever won all five British Classics?

Of the five British Classics, two of them – that is, the 1,000 Guineas and the Oaks – are restricted to three-year-old thoroughbred fillies, so it is impossible for a colt to win more than three. That said, a total of fifteen colts have won the 2,000 Guineas, the Derby and the St. Leger, a.k.a. the ‘Triple Crown’, while nine fillies have won the 1,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the St. Leger, a.k.a. the ‘Fillies’ Triple Crown’. Remarkably, though, two of those fillies not only ran in, but won, the 2,000 Guineas, taking their tally to four English Classics.

In 1868, Formosa, trained by Henry Woolcott, dead-heated with the colt Moslem in the 2,000 Guineas, before easily winning the 1,000 Guineas, over the same course and distance, two days later. She subsequently won the Oaks, by 10 lengths and, despite being beaten, twice, at Royal Ascot, was sent off joint-favourite for the St. Leger at Doncaster, which she duly won by 2 lengths under just hands-and-heels riding.

In 1902, Sceptre, owned and trained by Robert Sievier, started her three-year-old by being narrowly beaten, under 6st 7lb, in the Lincolnshire Handicap, but went on to win the 2,000 Guineas and the 1,000 Guineas, again within two days. She was arguably unlucky not to win the Derby, finishing fourth after missing three days’ work with a bruised foot, but returned to winning ways when hacking up in the Oaks two days later. Subsequently, she ran in the Grand Prix de Paris, twice at Royal Ascot and twice at Glorious Goodwood but, come the autumn, still managed to beat Rising Glass, who had finished second in the Derby, in the St. Leger. In so doing, she became the first and, so far, only horse to win four British Classics outright.

How are racehorses identified?

Notwithstanding legislation, such as The Horse Passports Regulations 2009, in England, which requires all horses and ponies to have an identification document, or ‘passport’, racehorses in Britain have needed such as document for decades. Indeed, historically, racehorses were identified on racecourses by checking their colour and markings against those recorded on an outline drawing in their passports.

However, since 1999, every thoroughbred foal registered in Britain has had a uniquely-numbered microchip implanted in its neck. Nowadays, all racehorses are identified by scanning their microchips on entry to racecourse stables and, although passport checks are carried out on certain horses – including those making their racecourse debut – the passport is typically only used for identification purposes if the microchip cannot be read. In a worst-case scenario, if a horse cannot be identified by its microchip or its passport, it will be prevented from running.

Who is, or was, the most successful jockey ever?

In Britain, the most successful jockey ever was Sir Gordon Richards who, between 1921 and 1954, rode 4,870 winners. The late Pat Eddery, who rode 4,633 winners between 1969 and 2003, and the incomparable Lester Piggott, who rode 4,493 winners between 1948 and 1994, are second and third on the all-time list, while Sir Anthony McCoy – far and away the most successful jockey in the history of National Hunt racing – is not far behind, with 4,358 winners.

However, none of the British jockeys can hold a candle to Canadian-born jockey Russell A. Baze who, between 1974 and 2016, rode an astonishing 12,842 winners – from 53,578 rides, at a strike rate of 24% – in North America. Baze is, comfortably, the most successful jockey in the history of horse racing worldwide, even outscoring prolific winners Laffit A. Pincay Jr. and Bill “The Shoe” Shoemaker by several thousand.

How can I buy a racehorse?

The majority of racehorses are sold at public auction, where they are grouped by type – yearlings, two-year-olds, horses in training and so on – listed in an auction catalogue and sold to the highest bidder. Depending on your budget and other requirements, buying a horse privately, directly from a breeder or trainer, at a negotiated price, may be your easiest option. Other choices include buying the winner of a selling race, which will be offered for auction immediately afterwards, or claiming a horse, at the advertised claiming price, from a claiming race.

Each method of buying a racehorse has its own pros and cons, so it is important, once you have decided on your budget, to seek a professional advisor, in the form of bloodstock agent or licensed trainer. Their knowledge and experience in analysing pedigrees, assessing form and, generally, in buying and racing horses, is likely to prove an invaluable asset.

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