What was the St. Albans Grand Steeplechase?

What was the St. Albans Grand Steeplechase? As the name suggests, the St. Albans Grand Steeplechase was a steeplechase run over a variety of cross-country courses in the vicinity of St. Albans, Hertfordshire. The brainchild of local hotelier Thomas Coleman, the St. Albans Grand Steeplechase was staged, with no little success, between 1830 and 1839. The inaugural running took place across the county border in Bedfordshire, over a 4¼-mile course between St. Mary’s Parish Church in Harlington and the obelisk in Wrest Park, Silsoe.

Thereafter, the St. Albans Grand Steeplechase was centred on Nomansland Common, so-called because it lies across two parishes, Sandridge and Wheathampstead, north of St. Albans. By 1834, the St. Albans Grand Steeplechase had become a race of national importance. Inspired by its success, Liverpudlian entrepreneur William Lynn, who had been staging Flat racing at Aintree Racecourse since 1829, staged his own race, originally known as the Liverpool Grand Steeplechase, in 1836.

That race would, of course, become the Grand National, but would not officially be known as such until 1847. Heavily indebted, Coleman staged the final St. Albans Grand Steeplechase – which was, by all accounts a shambolic affair – in 1839. Meanwhile, the connection of Liverpool to the major cities of Manchester, Birmingham and London by rail gave the Liverpool Grand Steeplechase national appeal and it effectively replaced the St. Albans Grand Steeplechase in the racing calendar.

How many times has Sir Michael Stoute won the Derby?

How many times has Sir Michael Stoute won the Derby? At the time of writing, veteran trainer Sir Michael Stoute, 75, has won the Derby five times, twice before his knighthood – interestingly, awarded for services not to horse racing, but to tourism in his native Barbados, in 1998 – and three times thereafter. His most famous Derby winner was undoubtedly Shergar, who won, eased down, by 10 lengths in 1981. Shergar was owned by Prince Shāh Karim al-Husayni, a.k.a. Aga Khan IV, and ridden by the late Walter Swinburn, as was Stoute’s next Derby winner, Shahrastani, in 1986. Rather unfairly, the 1986 Derby is remembered more for the controversial defeat of the hot favourite, Dancing Brave, than the victory of Shahrastani.

In any event, Stoute had to wait a while for his next Derby winner but, in the style of ‘London buses’, two came along together, in the form of Kris Kin in 2003 and North Light in 2004. Both winners were ridden by Kieren Fallon. Last, but by no means least, in 2010, Stoute enjoyed another wide-margin, ‘Royal’ Derby winner, courtesy of Workforce, owned by the late Khalid Abdullah. Ridden by Ryan Moore, Workforce was soon clear and in command, winning by 7 lengths in a time of 2 minutes 31.33 seconds, which still stands as a course record.

What is a ‘Classic’ horse race?

What is a 'Classic' horse race? In horse racing, ‘Classic’ is used in its sense of describing a major, long-standing sporting event and, in Britain, refers to any one of the five historic races contested annually by three-year-old colts and fillies, a.k.a. the ‘Classic generation’. Those races are the 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas, both run on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket in late April or early May, the Derby and Oaks, both run over a mile and a half at Epsom in June, and the St. Leger, run over a mile and three-quarters at Doncaster in September. The 1,000 Guineas and Oaks are restricted to three-year-old fillies, while the 2,000 Guineas, Derby and St. Leger are open to both sexes, although the first two are rarely contested by fillies nowadays.

Unsurprisingly, all five ‘Classic’ races hold the highest, Group One status and, as such, identify the best three-year-olds, of both sexes, in training over a range of distances. The St. Leger, inaugurated in 1776, is the oldest of the quintet, followed by the Oaks in 1779, Derby in 1780, 2,000 Guineas in 1809 and 1,000 Guineas in 1814. Collectively, the races became known as the ‘Classics’ in 1815 and have defined the British Flat racing season ever since. It is theoretically possible for a filly to win all five Classics and, in 1902, Sceptre went close to doing so; she won the 2,000 Guineas, 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and St. Leger and finished fourth, with a bruised foot, in the Derby.

Which was the last horse to complete the 2,000 Guineas – Derby double?

Which was the last horse to complete the 2,000 Guineas – Derby double? The 2,000 Guineas, run over a mile at Newmarket in late April or early May, and the Derby, run over a mile and a half at Epsom in June, constitute the first two legs of what is still referred to as the ‘English Triple Crown’. However, the third and final leg, the St. Leger, run over a mile and three-quarters at Doncaster in September, has fallen out of favour in recent years. In fact, the last horse to win all three races was Nijinsky, trained by Vincent O’Brien and ridden by Lester Piggott, in 1970.

Since Nijinsky, just three horses have completed the 2,000 Guineas – Derby double. In chronological order, they were Nashwan, who also won the Coral-Eclipse and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, in 1989, Sea The Stars, who also won the Coral-Eclipse, Juddmonte International, Irish Champion Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, in 2009 and Camelot in 2012. Camelot raced just four times as a three-year-old, but also won the Irish Derby and went agonsing close to winning the Triple Crown, when failing by three-quarters of a length to overhaul Encke in the St. Leger.

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