What is the Triple Crown in horse racing?

There is more than one Triple Crown in horse racing and Paddy is here to explain all…

Triple Crown horse racing


Achieving the Triple Crown in horse racing is one of the rarest accomplishments across sport. It requires strength, stamina, luck and determination for a horse to win the three biggest races in its career.

Yet occasionally horses do win the Triple Crown and fans who enjoy racing betting can back them to glory. However, if you’re new to horse racing betting then you might not know what the Triple Crown is.

Well, Paddy Power is here to break down the details of the Triple Crown and why there are different versions all over the world, in our latest Demystifying Racing guide. Here’s everything you need to know…

What is a Triple Crown?

A Triple Crown in horse racing is a term used for three races that combine into one achievement. Winning all three races in a single season means a horse has won the Triple Crown and usually goes down in history as a legend of the sport.

It isn’t too often that a Triple Crown winner emerges. West Australian was the first horse to win the English Triple Crown in 1853, while in Ireland you have to go back to 1942 for the last time a horse – Windsor Slipper – won the Irish Triple Crown.

Let’s now take a look at the most notable Triple Crowns in horse racing from around the world…

Epsom Derby Triple Crown

The Epsom Derby is part of the Triple Crown in England (GETTY)

English Triple Crown

  • 2000 Guineas Stakes, Newmarket
  • The Derby, Epsom
  • St Leger Stakes, Doncaster

The English Triple Crown has been in existence since 1809 but only a handful of horses have ever won the prestigious prize. Indeed, the last Triple Crown winner was Nijinsky in 1970, where jockey Lester Piggott rode the three-year-old to victory. Nijinsky was the first horse in 35 years to win the English Triple Crown and the feat hasn’t been repeated since.

However, a handful of horses have won two of the three Triple Crown races in one season. Cotherstone (1843) and Ladas (1894) both won the first two races, only to place second at the St Leger. In 2012 Camelot did the same thing, finishing behind Encke at Doncaster.

Irish Triple Crown

The Irish Triple Crown consists of the follow three races:

  • Irish 2000 Guineas, the Curragh
  • Irish Derby, the Curragh
  • Irish St Leger, the Curragh

Only two horses – Museum in 1935 and Windsor Slipper in 1942 – have ever won the Irish Triple Crown, and horse racing betting fans don’t exactly fight to place their bets on the next winner of this elusive award.

Australian Triple Crown

Australia has a number of other horse racing ‘series’ that attract attention – but the Australian Triple Crown is still the one everyone wants to win. It comprises of:

  • Randwick Guineas, Randwick
  • Rosehill Guineas, Rosehill
  • Australian Derby, Randwick

Remarkably, the last horse to win the Australian Triple Crown was only very recently. Dundeel stormed to victory in 2013, with Octagonal having been the previous winner in 1996. In total there have been just five Australian Triple Crown winners.

United States Triple Crown

Americans love their horse racing and the United States Triple Crown takes place on the traditional dirt tracks that populate the country. The three races involved in the US Triple Crown are:

  • Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, Kentucky
  • Preakness Stakes, Pimlico Race Course, Maryland
  • Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park, New York

The first remains one of the most popular races in the world, while global horse racing fans may not have heard much about the other two. All three races involve sprints between 1.9km and 2.4km and have hefty prize purses.

Sir Barton was the first American Triple Crown winner in 1919 and recently trainer Bob Baffert has enjoyed success, with American Pharaoh (2015) and Justify (2018) storming to victory. Iconic horse Secretariat won the United States Triple Crown in 1973. To date there have only been 13 winners.

Prix du Jockey Club Chantilly French Triple Crown

The Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly is part of the French Triple Crown (GETTY)

French Triple Crown

The French Triple Crown consists of:

  • French 2000 Guineas, Longchamp
  • Prix du Jockey Club, Chantilly
  • Grand Prix de Paris, Longchamp

If there is ever an indication that nailing a Triple Crown is hard work, it’s the list of winners of the French Triple Crown. There are only two horses to ever achieve the feat – and no one has managed it in over 120 years. Zut (1879) and Perth (1899) are the only two winners of this elusive gong.



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