Newmarket Guineas Festival Betting Tips - 4th & 5th May 2019

Horse with Noseband

The flat season has already been simmering along nicely by the time we head into May each year, but the meeting which first really sees the action reach boiling point comes here at the headquarters of the flat game, as Newmarket plays host to the Guineas meeting.

And what a meeting it is! Featuring not one, but two, Classic contests – the races around which, to a large extent, the whole season is built. The crème de la crème of the three year old colts and fillies quite rightly take centre stage here, with the opening Classics of the season helping to sort the wheat from the chaff and the hype from the horses of real substance, as well as establish the form lines when looking at the season ahead.

It’s not all about the two big ones of the 2000 and 1000 Guineas though, as there’s plenty to get excited about amongst the 12 supporting races, including a host of other Group class contests and top handicapping action. This really is a meeting not to be missed.

About the Guineas Festival Weekend

View of Newmarket's Rowley Mile Course

Racecourses are known for certain events, such as the Grand National at Aintree and the Festival named after it at Cheltenham. Of all of the courses in the United Kingdom, few have the same relationship that Newmarket does with the Guineas, seeing both the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas run on the course in May. An event that promises some of the best flat racing outside of Ascot, the Guineas Weekend is part of the British Championship Series and sees the best and the brightest of the flat racing world descend on the Suffolk course for the two days of racing.

You can’t blame them, of course, with the racing being absolutely top-class in nature. Of the thirty-six Group 1 races that take place anywhere in the UK during the horse racing calendar, nine of them are hosted by Newmarket and two of them are over this weekend. The Guineas Weekend signifies the start of the flat racing season, with two of the Classics coming hot on the heels of each other. It is considered to be one of flat racing’s most important weekends anywhere in the world, offering an exceptional atmosphere as the horses tear their way around the Rowley Mile.

Guineas Festival Race List

Offering two days of racing with seven races on each day, the QIPCO sponsored event is one of the most interesting and informative that you can get. It’s a chance to suss out the runners and riders for the flat racing season to come.

Few meetings get to offer two world class races, let alone putting them on different days and surrounding them with other top-notch events. That’s exactly what you get on Guineas Weekend at Newmarket, however, starting with the 2000 Guineas.

As you might imagine, the Sunday follows the Saturday in having a Group 1 race surrounded by a number of other excellent races, this time with that Group 1 race being the 1000 Guineas.

Just as with the Saturday, the Jockey Club can move around the races as they see fit and even completely remove them from the lineup if they want to. Something to bear in mind.

Here’s a look at the race cards from the two days in 2019.

RacePrize MoneyAges
Day One – 2000 Guineas Day
Spring Lodge Stakes £50,000 3 Years Old +
Palace House Stakes £60,000 3 Years Old +
Jockey Club Stakes £100,000 4 Years Old +
2000 Guineas Stakes £523,750 3 Years Old
Havana Gold Handicap £25,000 3 Years Old
Newmarket Stakes £50,000 3 Years Old (Colts & Geldings)
Racing Welfare Handicap £25,000 3 Years Old
Day Two – 1000 Guineas Day
Qatar Racing Handicap £50,000 4 Years Old +
Dahlia Stakes £100,000 4 Years Old + (Fillies & Mares)
Longholes Handicap £50,000 4 Years Old +
1000 Guineas Stakes £500,000 3 Years Old (Fillies)
Maiden Stakes £12,000 2 Years Old
Pretty Polly Stakes £50,000 3 Years Old (Fillies)
Supporting British Racing Handicap £20,000 3 Years Old

The Key Races in Detail

No matter the racecourse and irrespective of the meeting, there are always some races that you’ll want to know more about and some that don’t necessarily pique your interest in the same way. When it comes to the Guineas Weekend it goes without saying that the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas are the most important races, but some of the others run either side of them are also noteworthy.

Here’s a look at the most important of the races that are run during the Guineas Weekend, starting with the two Classics.

The 1000 Guineas

The 1000 Guineas was first run five years after the 2000 Guineas, getting its inaugural race on the twenty-eighth of April 1814. It was the idea of Sir Charles Bunbury, the man who had already created one of the most famous British races in the Derby. The name came, unsurprisingly, from the prize of 1000 Guineas, with a guinea being worth about £1.05.

Over the following several decades the race grew in prominence so that by the 1860s it was thought of as one of the most important races for three-year-olds in the British horse racing calendar. That was also the point at which the five biggest races for three-year-olds began to be known as the Classics.

The 1000 Guineas is the first race of the season for many horses, though there are also a series of trial races like the Fred Darling Stakes and the Nell Gwyn Stakes that serve it. Horses that do well in this race often go on to be competitive in the Oaks, another of the Classics. Other countries have their own versions of the 1,000 Guineas, with the best-known being the likes of the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches in France and the Italian Premio Regina Elena.

Taking place over 1 mile on the straight of the Rowley Mile, the 1,000 Guineas Stakes is specifically for three-year-old fillies. The weight is nine stone exactly and the prize money in 2018 was £500,000, which is the same as for the 2000 Guineas. George Fordham won the race seven times between 1859 and 1883, with Robert Robson picking up nine wins from 1818 to 1827, making them the race’s most successful jockey and trainer respectively.

The 2000 Guineas

Inaugurated on the eighteenth of April in 1809, the 2000 Guineas was the first of the two races and, like the 1000 Guineas, was the brainchild of Sir Charles Bunbury of the Jockey Club. It is one of the Classics and is also part of the Triple Crown of flat racing, coming before the Derby and the St. Leger. Few horses having won all three and even fewer even attempt to do so in the modern era, such is the extent to which it asks real questions of the horses and their fitness.

There are trial races for the 2000 Guineas in the form of the Craven Stakes and Greenham Stakes, though that’s just one way for horses to gain entry into it. Just as the 1000 Guineas can be a good race to watch for clues about the Oaks, so too is the 2000 Guineas something of a clue-giver for the Derby. There are also races around Europe and the rest of the world that mimic the 2,000 Guineas, with the best examples being Germany’s Mehl-Mülhens-Rennen and the Satsuki Shō of Japan.

The race’s most successful jockey is Jem Robinson who won it nine times between 1825 and 1848, with Aidan O’Brien being the most successful trainer thanks to his nine wins to date in the modern era. Run over one mile, again on the Rowley Course, the race is for three-year-olds and geldings are excluded. The weight is nine stone, though fillies receive a three pound allowance.

The Jockey Club Stakes

It’s perhaps no major surprise that one of the racing industry’s most influential bodies has a race named in its honour, with this one having been inaugurated in 1894. It was originally open to horses aged three and over and was run over one mile and two furlongs, being extended to one mile and six furlongs in 1901. It was moved to the spring from the autumn in 1963, at which point it was cut down to one mile four furlongs in length and three-year-olds could no longer run in it.

Open to four-year-olds with a weight of nine stone one pound, fillies and mares get a three pound allowance and there’s a three pound penalty for winners of Group 1 races. It’s run right-handed on an L track and horses that do well in this often go on to compete in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

The Newmarket Stakes

There was a version of a race known as the Newmarket Stakes established during the nineteenth century, with a new version coming about in 1889. That was run over one and a quarter miles and was seen as a trial for the Derby up until it stopped being run in the 1960s. The current iteration of the event was founded in 1978 as the Heathorn Stakes, gaining its Newmarket Stakes title in 1986.

The race is run over one mile and two furlongs and is for colts and geldings aged three. Run on the straight, the weight information is nine stone, with five pound penalties for Group race winners and a three pound penalties for winners of Listed races.

The Pretty Polly Stakes

First run in 1962, the race is named after Pretty Polly, who won the fillies’ Triple Crown in 1904. It is seen as a trial for the Epsom Oaks, with Taghrooda winning both in 2014. Originally held in mid-may, it was moved to its current position in the season in 1973.

The Pretty Polly Stakes is restricted to three-year-old fillies that have not won a Group 1 or 2 race. The weight is nine stone and horses that have won a Group 3 offering carry an additional five pounds, with Listed race winners seeing three pounds added as penalty. Run over one mile and two furlongs on the straight, the race has been won by Frankie Dettori more times than any other jockey.

The Dahlia Stakes

One of the youngest races to take place on Guineas Weekend, the Dahlia Stakes was run for the first time in 1997. It is named in honour of the American-bred filly that won the likes of the Irish Oaks, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prix Niel in the 1970s.

A Listed race when it was first run, it gained Group 3 status in 2004 and was promoted to Group 2 in 2015. The race takes place on the straight over one mile and one furlong. It’s for fillies and mares aged four and over and has a weight of nine stone. Group 1 winners receive a five pound penalty, with Group 3 winners getting three pounds.