Stayer’s races provide a unique test of a racehorse’s endurance and stamina. Usually contested by horses specifically bred to compete over longer distances, stayer’s races tax both horses and jockeys to the utmost, and tend to reward the highest quality racehorses.
Here are five of the world’s most famous stayers’ flat races.
The Ascot Gold Cup
The Ascot Gold Cup is both the longest and most prestigious stayer’s race in the United Kingdom. The Group 1 race is run annually as the highlight of the Royal Ascot meeting at Ascot Racecourse. Open to 4-year-old and above racecourses, the Ascot Gold Cup is run over 3822 meters. The Ascot Gold Cup has been contested since 1807, which also makes it one of the world’s oldest stayer’s races.
The Belmont Stakes
At 2400 meters, the Belmont Stakes doesn’t match the distance run in the longest races in the United Kingdom and Australia. However, no other Grade 1 stakes race in the United States is run over a greater distance, and the Belmont Stakes offers some unique challenges. Foremost among these is that it serves as the culmination of the American Triple Crown, which means that many contestants will have competed in two gruelling Triple Crown races in the five weeks leading up to the Belmont Stakes.
The Melbourne Cup
The 3200 meter Melbourne Cup may not be the longest distance stayers’ race in the world, but it can claim to be the toughest. Not only does it tend to draw strong international fields as well as a host of Australia’s unusually talented stayers’, but it is also the only race in this list that enforces a handicap. Throw in the late Spring heat that contestants may have to deal with and a massive crowd, and the Melbourne Cup can easily lay claim to being the ultimate test of a horse’s staying credentials.
Prix du Cadran
When it comes to the claiming the longest distance over which stayers are tested, the Prix du Cadran runs out a clear winner. This French Group 1 was first run in 1837 and is contested at Longchamp Racecourse in Paris in October. What sets the Prix du Cadran apart from other major stayers’ races is its distance, with contestants covering 4000 meters on the way to the finishing post. This makes the Prix du Cadran the longest distance Group 1 flat race held in any major racing nation.
The St Leger Stakes
As 2900 metes the St Leger Stakes is not only one of the longest distance races in the world, but also boasts a peerless heritage. The race was run for the first time in 1776, which makes it the oldest of the English Classics and the oldest Group 1 stayers race in the world. Originally run at Cantley Common near Doncaster, the race is now run on Town Moor, home of Doncaster Racecourse.
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