In the UK The Triple Crown consists of The 2000 Guineas (1 mile), The Epsom Derby (1m 4f) and The St Leger (1m 6f) and only twelve horses have achieved this feat. The last being Nijinsky in 1970 and the last horse to attempt this was Camelot in 2012 where he narrowly missed out by finishing 2nd in the St Leger to Encke.
The Triple Crown is really hard to accomplish but it seems that owners and trainers don’t really want to achieve it this these days. Winning the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby of course but winning the St Leger, the longest of the 3 races and ran over 1 mile 6 furlongs, seems to devalue the horse as a prospective sire. Speed is preferred to stamina in potential studs and that is probably why even horses that win the Epsom Derby don’t enter it. The last to achieve the Derby and St Leger double was Reference Point in 1987.
Winning the 2000 Guineas or Epsom Derby you become a good stallion prospect but if you win the St Leger the chances are they would consider you more of a National Hunt breed. Similar to a lot of horses who were placed in the classics and even Derby winners who didn’t achieve a Group one 1 mile 2 furlongs win. The exception being Galileo.
So how would we change the Triple Crown? Well, ideally we would remove the St Leger from the Triple Crown and have a mile race, a mile and a quarter race and a mile and a half race but we’d be unlikely to go for it over here because this country is so steeped in tradition. Racing stalwarts don’t like change, even though it maybe positive and for the good of racing.
I would say that the St Leger is no more than an end of season race for improving handicappers and the classic also runs in a time where not many good horses run over distances like that and are bred for that.
Ireland have realised this and have the St Leger open for older horses. Okay, I wouldn’t do that but racing is changing and I think a more realistic Triple Crown would be of huge benefit. Just like it is in the USA and what is now probably similar in France, where they have changed their Derby distance (now 1m 2f) and that winner goes for a more realistic option which is the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe (1m 4f). This achieves the goals of the Triple Crown I suggested for the UK.
My UK idea of the Triple Crown would be run in May, June and July and the winner would also have the options of all the Group ones after this. The only race they would really miss is the Eclipse.
Just food for thought. Let me know what you think.