Inaugurated in 1814, the One Thousand Guineas is the most recent of the British Classics but, like two of its predecessors, the Derby and the Two Thousand Guineas, was established under the auspices of Jockey Club Steward Sir Charles Bunbury. The race is run over a mile on the Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket – the same course and distance as the Two Thousand Guineas the previous day – in late April or early May and is open exclusively to thoroughbred three-year-old fillies. The race title was derived from the original prize fund – a guinea being worth 21/–, or £1.10s, in pre-decimal currency – but, nowadays, the One Thousand Guineas is one of the most prestigious races of the season for three-year-old fillies; in 2019, the total prize fund was £500,000.
Many of the records for the One Thousand Guineas, including those for leading jockey, trainer and owner, were set during the nineteenth century. The leading jockey is George Fordham, whose seven victories between 1859 and 1883 included the widest margin winner in history, Mayonaise, who romped home by 20 lengths. The leading trainer is Robert Robson, a.k.a. the ‘Emperor of Trainers’, who saddled nine of the ten winners between 1818 and 1827, eight of them for George Fitzroy, Fourth Duke of Grafton, who is, unsurprisingly, the leading owner in the history of the race.
In 1840, the undefeated Crucifix, who had the distinction of winning the Two Thousand Guineas, One Thousand Guineas and Oaks in a three-year-old campaign cut short by injury, was the shortest-priced winner at 1/10 while, as recently as 2018, Billesdon Brook became the longest-priced winner at 66/1. The One Thousand Guineas also forms the first leg of the so-called ‘Fillies’ Triple Crown’ – which also included the Oaks and St. Leger – but the last filly to win all three races was Oh So Sharp in 1985 and, before that, Meld in 1955. Nowadays, the Fillies’ Triple Crown is rarely, if ever, attempted.