Which is the first Group 1 race open to older horses?
Of course, the first Group 1 races of the British Flat season are the 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas, run over the Rowley Mile at Newmarket in late April or early May. However, both races are restricted to three-year-olds, colts and fillies in the case of the 2,000 Guineas and fillies only in the case of the 1,000 Guineas.
The first Group 1 race of the season open to horses aged four years and upwards is the Lockinge Stakes, which is run over a straight mile at Newbury in mid-May. Named after the village of Lockinge, approximately 20 miles north of Newbury, near Wantage, in the Vale of the White Horse district of Oxfordshire, the Lockinge Stakes was inaugurated in 1958.
Following the creation of the European Pattern in 1971, the Lockinge Stakes was assigned Group 2 status. Indeed, the race was demoted to Group 3 status in 1983, but was promoted again two years later and still further, to Group 1 status, in 1995. At that stage, the Lockinge Stakes was closed to three-year-olds, but has since become the showpiece of the Flat season at the Berkshire course, worth £350,000 in guaranteed prize money. Since 1995, the roll of honour includes Soviet Line, who won back-to-back renewals in 1995 and 1996, Frankel, who won on his 4-year-old debut in 2012 and, most recently, Cartier Champion Older Horse, Palace Pier, in 2021.