Newmarket Guineas Festival: Race List & Meeting Info

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.


Day One Races - 2000 Guineas Races

RaceGradeLengthPrize MoneyAges
Spring Lodge Stakes Class 2 1m1f £50,000 3 Years Old +
Palace House Stakes Group 3 5f £60,000 3 Years Old +
Jockey Club Stakes Group 2 1m4f £100,000 4 Years Old +
2000 Guineas Stakes Group 1 1m £523,750 3 Years Old
Havana Gold Handicap Class 2 6f £25,000 3 Years Old
Newmarket Stakes Listed 1m2f £50,000 3 Years Old (Colts & Geldings)
Racing Welfare Handicap Class 2 1m £25,000 3 Years Old

Spring Lodge Stakes

Class 2, 1m1f

This Class 2 event is a handicap race, meaning that the handicapper will assign the amount of weight that each horse will carry with the aim of making it as even as possible. It’s open to horses aged three and over and is run over one mile and one furlong on the Rowley Course at Newmarket. Prize money is in excess of £31,000, with the race lasting for about one minute and fifty seconds when the Going is Good.

Palace House Stakes

Group 3, 5f

The Palace House Stakes is a Group 3 race, aimed at horses aged three and over. Run over five furlongs, it was established in 1961 and is named in honour of Palace House, a well-known building in Newmarket that is on the site of one of King Charles II’s royal residences. It was given Group 3 status when the current system of grading came into effect in 1971. The following weight rules are in place for the race:

  • 3-year-olds: 8 stone 11 pounds
  • 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 6 pounds
  • Fillies and mares are given an allowance of 3 pounds
  • Group 1 race winners are given a 7 pound penalty
  • Group 2 race winners are given a 5 pound penalty
  • Group 3 race winners are given a 3 pound penalty

The race is open to horses aged three and over and the purse stands at around £60,000. The winner can expect to take about £34,000 of that, with the race itself tending to last for about a minute if the Going is Good. To date, only two horses have won the race more than once. Both Sole Power and Mabs Cross have two wins to their names, with a number of jockeys having notched up the same amount of victories in the event.

Jockey Club Stakes

Group 2, 1m4f

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.

2000 Guineas Stakes

Group 1, 1m

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.

Havana Gold Handicap

Class 2, 6f

The race that comes immediately after the 2,000 Guineas is the Havana Gold Handicap, which is run over six furlongs. Open to three-year-old horses with a rating of between 0 and 100, the winner takes home in excess of £16,000 in prize money. If the Going is Good then you can expect this race to last for about a minute and ten seconds, give or take. As it’s a handicap event, the handicapper assigns the weights that each horse will carry.

Newmarket Stakes

Listed, 1m2f

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.

Racing Welfare Handicap

Class 2, 1m

The final race of the first day of the meeting is the Racing Welfare Handicap, which is sponsored by Qipco at the time of writing. It’s a Class 2 event that is run over one mile, lasting for about one minute and forty seconds when the Going is Good. It’s limited to three-year-olds and in order to take part they’ll need to have a rating of between 0 and 105. As with other handicap races, weights are assigned to horses by the handicapper based on ability.


Day Two Races - 1000 Guineas Day

RaceGradeLengthPrize MoneyAges
Qatar Racing Handicap Class 2 1m4f £50,000 4 Years Old +
Dahlia Stakes Group 2 1m1f £100,000 4 Years Old + (Fillies & Mares)
Longholes Handicap Class 2 6f £50,000 4 Years Old +
1000 Guineas Stakes Group 1 1m £500,000 3 Years Old (Fillies)
Maiden Stakes Class 3 5f £12,000 2 Years Old
Pretty Polly Stakes Listed 1m2f £50,000 3 Years Old (Fillies)
Supporting British Racing Handicap Class 3 1m2f £20,000 3 Years Old

Qatar Racing Handicap

Class 2, 1m4f

Day Two of the meeting gets underway with another handicap event. It’s a Class 2 race and is run over one mile and four furlongs, taking about two and a half minutes for the horses to reach the finish line when the Going is Good. Open to horses aged four and over, they’ll need a rating of between 0 and 105 to take part in the event. The winning horse can expect to take home prize money in the region of £30,000.

Dahlia Stakes

Group 2, 1m1f

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.

Longholes Handicap

Class 2, 6f

Handicap races ask the handicapper to figure out the ability of all of the horses taking part and assign them with an amount of weight to carry in order to ensure the event is as far as possible. That’s what happens with this race, which is a Class 2 offering and is run over six furlongs. It’s open to horses aged four and over, with prize money of more than £30,000 going to the winner. If the Going is Good, the race will last for in the region of one minute and ten seconds.

1000 Guineas Stakes

Group 1, 1m

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.

Maiden Stakes

Class 3, 5f

Coming hot on the heels of the 1,000 Guineas is the Hot Streak Maiden Stakes. A race that runs the risk of having a feeling of being ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’, the Class 3 event is run over five furlongs. It takes about a minute for the leading horses to make it to the finish line on days when the Going is Good, with prize money for the winner sitting at close to £8.000. It’s a race that is for two-year-old maiden horses.

Pretty Polly Stakes

Listed, 1m2f

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.

Supporting British Racing Handicap

Class 3, 1m2f

Another race that is run in association with Qipco and raising money for a good cause, this Class 3 event brings the Guineas Festival to a close. It’s open to three-year-olds with a rating of between 0 and 95, being run as it is over one mile and two furlongs. The race takes a shade over two minutes when the Going is Good. The winning horse will take an amount in the region of £13,000 home as their prize money.


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.