The 1000 Guineas is a Group 1 flat race for 3-year-old Thoroughbred fillies. Although it comes second on the annual racing schedule, it is considered to be the junior of England’s five Classic races. Each spring, it is run over a distance of one mile on the turf of the Rowley Mile at Newmarket Racecourse, “The Home of Racing.”
The event’s name derives from the prize money that was put up in 1814 for the original running. It was preceded in 1809 by the 2000 Guineas, which was open only to colts. Both events were organised by the Jockey Club led by Sir Charles Bunbury, co-founder of the Epsom Derby.
Back in those days, a Guinea was worth 21 shillings or £1.05. By 2008, the prize fund on offer had reached £375,000, and in 2009 it was made equal to the fund for the colt’s race at £400,000. The share claimed by 2010’s winner, the French-trained 10/1-shot Special Duty, was over £220,000.
Followed by the Epsom Oaks, the 1000 Guineas is the first leg of the so-called Fillies’ Triple crown, which is completed by the classic St. Leger Stakes. In the history of the events, seven horses have claimed victory in all three, the most recent coming in 1985 from Irish-born Oh So Sharp.
Among other notable steeds in the 1000 Guineas, 1918’s Ferry holds the record for winning at the longest odds—50/1, and 1840’s Crucifix still tops the list of short odds winners at 1/10. The fastest filly ever to run this mile was Ghanaati in 2009 with a time of 1:34.22. Until then, the speediest runner was Ireland’s Finsceal Beo, which is Gaelic for “living legend,” who in 2007 became only the second horse ever to win both the English 1,000 Guineas and the Irish 1,000 Guineas.
Apart from the Irish version, the 1000 Guineas format has been adopted by the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches in France, the German 1,000 Guineas, and Italy’s Premio Regina Elena. There are also a number of trial races for fillies to use as tune-ups, such as the Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket and the Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury in mid-April, but many of the runners in the 1000 Guineas have gone without a start since the preceding autumn, making it a difficult race to handicap.
The events surrounding the race are known as the Guineas Festival, and the current sponsor is stanjames.com. In the 2010 edition, the field was made up of 18 fillies and run on a Sunday, leading to especially heavy wagering. Ante post betting actually begins immediately following the conclusion of the previous year’s running, so keeping an eye on up and coming fillies is a must for serious bettors. That includes watching the results of the Cheveley Park Stakes for 2-year-olds, which is thought of as an excellent predictor for the 1000 Guineas. For example, Special Duty was the winner there in October 2009.
Some online bookmakers, such as ladbrokes and paddy Power, offer free bets of from £25 to £100 on the 1000 Guineas. Such promotions are typically for new online customers only, and they require staking an amount equal to the free bet. Forms and tips for the 1000 Guineas are widely available, and up-to-the-minute odds are constantly posted on the Internet.
Straight bets are the most common wagers made—“win” to come in 1st, “place” for 2nd, and “show” for 3rd. All bookies and online race books offers these markets. More exotic wagers, such as Exacta or Perfecta for 1st & 2nd in order, Trifecta for predicting 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in order, or Quinella for the first two runners in either order, have significantly longer odds with minimums starting at as little as 10p.