MAKE sure you know your Guineas from your guinea pigs this weekend if you’re heading to Newmarket.
Renowned as the ‘Home of Horseracing’, organisers must have been squeaking mad at the racecourse as they hosted the first ever guinea pig race on the hallowed turf at Flat Racing’s HQ.
While the small creatures may have taken centre stage during the week there will be plenty more horsepower on the track this weekend as the Guineas Festival gets underway.
First run in 1809 and 1814 respectively the 2000 and 1000 Guineas are the first two Group 1 Flat races each season and the first two of the five ‘Classics’ run in each calendar year.
The races themselves get their name from the prize money originally offered to the winning horses, with one Guinea – a currency which was replaced by the pound in 1816 – equalling around £1.05.
Today, however, the winners of the 2000 and 1000 Guineas take home more than £280,000 each.
Three-year-old colts contest the 2000 Guineas while fillies the same age take part in the 1000. Horses which compete in the two races often go on to run in the Investec Derby (for colts) or the Investec Oaks (for fillies) four weeks later at Epsom Downs Racecourse.
On this occasion Newmarket’s groundstaff team allowed seven guinea pigs – all named after famous racehorses – to ‘run’ over two metres (rather than a mile) on the Rowley Mile’s official racing surface.
It was Too Darn Soft who ran out the winner, narrowly holding off Squeaking Lion in second and Rodent Dendron in third.
The QIPCO Guineas Festival is staged at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile Racecourse on Bank Holiday weekend, Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th May. Tickets are still available for both days, including some in the racecourse’s brand new for 2019 Century Stand Enclosure on the Sunday, available from thejockeyclub.co.uk/Newmarket
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