Guide to the Guineas Festival

The QIPCO Guineas Festival at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile kicks off the Flat racing season with the first two Classic races of the year, the QIPCO 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas.

This year’s Guineas Festival – one of the world’s greatest racing events – take place on Saturday 5th May (2,000 Guineas) and Sunday 6th May (1,000 Guineas).

The Guineas are the first two of the five British Classics and also part of the British Champions Series. The races are the first big test of the year for horses, trainers and jockeys.

The QIPCO 2000 Guineas for colts started in 1809 and the QIPCO 1000 Guineas for fillies commenced in 1814. The two famous Classics represent the first big test for the three-year-old generation. The three other Classics, the Derby, Oaks and St Leger, follow later in the season. It is at Newmarket that reputations are put on the line for the first time.

Many of the greatest names in the history of the turf have triumphed in these historic races, including in the modern era Nijinsky, Brigadier Gerard, Dancing Brave, Nashwan, Oh So Sharp, Pebbles, Miesque, Sea The Stars and Frankel.

The winner of the 2000 Guineas in 2011 was Frankel, who put up an extraordinary performance which left racegoers almost stunned by its magnitude (pictured top, photo by Sara Waterson).

Frankel made all and was clear by half-way, winning unchallenged from his 12 rivals. This splendid victory by the unbeaten colt trained by Sir Henry Cecil was just the start of a magnificent season which saw him succeed in three more Group One mile races.

Frankel ended the year the best racehorse on the planet with a rating of 136 in the World Thoroughbred Rankings (WTR).

In the review of 2011, the WTR said: “His (Frankel’s) most visually arresting performance was when he sensationally spread-eagled the field from the start in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. His rating of 136 marks him out as the joint top-rated colt, along with crack Irish colt Sea The Stars (2009), since the World Thoroughbred Rankings were instituted in 2004 and one would have to go back to 1984 and another Irish colt El Gran Senor (with a rating of 138 in the former International Classifications) to find a miler of comparable quality on official ratings.”

The fillies’ Classic, the QIPCO 1000 Guineas, features on the second day, Sunday 6th May and is also run over a mile.

Not only popular with seasoned enthusiasts, the QIPCO Guineas Festival is seen to be one of the most exhilarating race meetings for those new to the sport.


The Rowley Mile is described as ‘arguably the most historic major sporting venue in the world’. Named after Old Rowley, a nickname given both to King Charles II and his faithful hack, the Rowley Mile has hosted Flat racing for three and a half centuries. This is where the Sport of Kings as we know it today was born and it is on this same world-famous strip of turf that countless equine champions have been crowned ever since.

From the Rowley Mile, racing spread around the globe. The first racecourse in America, for instance, was created by Charles II’s governor in New York in 1665 and named ‘Newmarket’ after Charles’s beloved Suffolk town, where he would move the Royal court each year so that he could indulge his passion for racing.

The unique, straight Rowley Mile course is largely unchanged since then – just the stands are new – and the latest champions will emerge on this hallowed turf during the QIPCO Guineas Festival.


No racecourse in the world can match Newmarket’s Rowley Mile for its heritage, history and sheer authenticity. The ‘cutting edge’ relevance of its location to Flat racing in the 21st century remains as strong as ever – the town of Newmarket is the biggest racing centre on the planet. To visit it is to feel the heartbeat of British racing.

Over 2,500 racehorses are trained in and around the town where more than 70 licensed trainers bring them to peak fitness on the world’s largest training grounds of 2,500 acres. More than 60 stud farms are located around Newmarket, producing some of the most regally-bred racehorses to grace the turf. Newmarket is also home to the magnificent Jockey Club Rooms, National Horseracing Museum, National Stud, British Racing School, Tattersalls sales ring, Animal Health Trust and the headquarters of numerous racing and breeding organisations.

Newmarket has more Group and Listed Races than any other course in Britain and is as Lord’s is to cricket, as Twickenham is to rugby union and as Wembley is to football. It is the ‘Home of Racing’ and the QIPCO Guineas Festival is one of the jewels in its crown. This is the event at which the British Flat racing season explodes into life and three and a half centuries of history reverberate across Newmarket Heath as the first Classic winners of the season are hailed on the Rowley Mile, the “Course of Champions”.

For more information about the Guineas Festival including race histories, fashion tips, reviews and betting tips, please see our full Guide to The Guineas (click here or see link under ‘May’ below). 


See also:

Summer Racing Fashion Guide 2017


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