Are three-year-old fillies eligible to run in the 2,000 Guineas & the Derby?

Are three-year-old fillies eligible to run in the 2,000 Guineas & the Derby?  The simple answer is yes, they are. Although the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby as billed as “colts'” Classics, they are, in fact, open to horses of both sexes, but not geldings.The only proviso is that horses have run at least once and achieved an official handicap rating of 80 or more, or an equivalent level of form, in the eyes of the official handicap. In both cases, fillies receive a 3lb allowance from their male counterparts.

Three-year-old fillies may be eligible to run in the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby but, nowadays, rarely do so. Indeed, the last filly to win the 2,000 Guineas was Garden Path who, in 1944, justified favouritism in a wartime renewal, run on the July Course, rather than the Rowley Mile, at Newmarket. The last filly to win the ‘Derby’ was Fifinella who, in 1916, won a wartime substitute, known as the ‘New Derby Stakes’ also, coincidentally, run on the July Course at Newmarket.

Modern trainers prefer their top-class fillies to pursue the 1,000 Guineas and/or Oaks route, not least because both “fillies'” Classics are restricted to three-year-old fillies only. Notwithstanding funding cuts due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas are worth exactly the same prize money and, although the premier colts’ Classic, the Derby, offers a purse three times higher than the Oaks, fillies have a much better chance of winning against their own sex.

Which was the first horse to run in the Kentucky and Epsom Derbies?

Which was the first horse to run in the Kentucky and Epsom Derbies?  The first horse to run in the Kentucky and Epsom Derbies and, indeed, the first British-trained horse to run in ‘The Race for the Roses’, was Bold Arrangement, owned by Anthony and Raymond Richards and trained, in Newmarket, by Clive Brittain. Brittain was renowned for his adventurous, pioneering spirit and, although often accused of ’tilting at windmills’, became synonymous with high-profile success at home and abroad.

Bold Arrangement was sired by Persian Bold, a smart performer between a mile and a mile-and-a-quarter, including on turf. He won four of his nine starts as a juvenile, including the Group Three Solario Stakes, over 7 furlongs, at Sandown Park, under Pat Eddery. After a modest three-year-old debut at Doncaster in March, 1986, Bold Arrangement headed to Lexington, Kentucky for his first start on dirt, the Blue Grass Stakes, over nine furlongs, at Keeneland. Once again ridden by Pat Eddery, the colt came from way off the pace to finish third, beaten three-quarters of a length.

At Churchill Downs, Bold Arrangement was ridden by Kentucky Derby veteran Chris McCarron, deputising for the suspended Eddery, and sent off at 8/1. After four furlongs, Bold Arrangement was only eleventh of the sixteen runners, but loomed large leaving the far turn and kept on stoutly to finish second, beaten 2¼ lengths, behind Ferdinand. McCarron kept the ride at Epsom a month later but, sent off at 12/1, Bold Arrangement could only manage fourteenth of the sixteen finishers behind controversial winner Shahrastani.

How many horses have won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe more than once?

How many horses have won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe more than once?  Traditionally staged on the first Sunday in October at Longchamp Racecourse in the Bois de Boulogne, west of Paris, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is one of the highlights of the international racing calendar. Run over a mile-and-a-half and open to horses aged three years and upwards of either gender, except geldings, the ‘Arc’ is a prestigious Group One contest, which regularly atrracts the crème de la crème of middle-distance from all over the world.

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was inaugurated in 1920 and has been sponsored by Qatar Racing, under the auspices of Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, of the Qatari Royal family, since 2008. It is, in fact, the most valuable race run on the Flat anywhere in Europe, offering €5 million in total prize money, of which €2.86 million goes to the winner. Horses aged four years and upwards carry 9st 5lb, three-year-olds carry 8st 12lb and fillies and mares receive a 3lb allowance. Consequently, for horses of the ‘Classic’ generation – that is, three-year-old colts and fillies – British trainers often consider the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as a viable alternative to the St. Leger Stakes, which is run over two furlongs further at Doncaster in September.

All told, eight horses – in chronological order, Ksar (1921, 1922), Motrico (1930, 1932), Corrida (1936, 1937), Tantieme (1950, 1951), Ribot (1955, 1956), Alleged (1977, 1978), Treve (2013, 2014) and Enable (2017, 2018) – have won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe twice, but no horse has won the race three times.

Why are horses gelded?

Why are horses gelded?  Males horses typically undergo puberty or, in other words, attain sexual maturity at or beyond the age of 15 months. Adolescent horses learn quickly, so this is an ideal time for training. However, as testosterone levels in the blood, and sperm production, increase, adolescent colts often display mating behaviours, such as biting, kicking and rearing, and generally become distracted, unruly and difficult to train. Thus, once it is clear that they will not be used for breeding, many colts are gelded, or castrated, to improve their demeanour and work ethic.

Gelding is a common surgical procedure, which involves removing the testicles and epididymis, and can be performed under standing sedation, rather than general anaesthetic. Testosterone is produced in cells in the testicles and, in their absence, its level in the blood drops rapidly, resulting in abrupt behavioural changes.Testosterone is also a growth hormone, which stimulates muscle growth, so geldings may also benefit from physiological changes, such as more proportioned musculature, which can enhance their performance on the racecourse. In Britain, most male National Hunt horses are gelded but, on the Flat, geldings are prohibited from running in several prestigious Group One races, including the Derby.

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