what are guineas in horse racing

Guineas are a type of horse race that is held in England and Ireland. They are typically run over a distance of one mile and are named after the English gold coin of the same name. The first guineas race was held in 1753, and they have since become one of the most prestigious horse races in the world. Some of the most famous guineas races include the 1,000 Guineas, the 2,000 Guineas, and the Epsom Guineas. These races are open to horses of either sex, and they are considered to be important indicators of a horse’s potential for success in the future.

The Guinea: A Staple of Horse Racing Lore

The guinea, a former British currency unit, holds a special place in the annals of horse racing. Its significance stems from its role as the traditional prize money for several prestigious races. While the guinea is no longer in circulation, its legacy persists in the names of these races and the rich history it represents.

A Brief History of the Guinea

  • Originating in the 17th century, the guinea was a gold coin worth 21 shillings (equivalent to £1.05 today).
  • In 1711, Queen Anne introduced a gold coin called the “guinea,” intended to be worth 21 shillings but later stabilized at 21 shillings and 6 pence (equivalent to £1.12 today).
  • The guinea remained in circulation until 1816, when the British pound sterling became the official currency.

The Guinea in Horse Racing

The guinea’s association with horse racing began in the 18th century, when it became the standard prize money for several major races:

  • The Guineas (plural): Two classic races run at Newmarket Racecourse, one for colts and one for fillies.
  • The Two Thousand Guineas and the One Thousand Guineas: Run at Newmarket to determine the best three-year-old colts and fillies.
  • The Epsom Guineas: A historic race for three-year-old fillies run at Epsom Downs Racecourse.

Why the Guinea?

The guinea’s popularity in horse racing can be attributed to several reasons:

  • Significant Value: The guinea was a substantial monetary prize, especially in the early days of horse racing.
  • Symbol of Prestige: Winning a guinea race brought not only financial gain but also prestige and recognition.
  • Traditional Significance: The use of the guinea became ingrained in the culture of horse racing, and its name continues to evoke an air of history and tradition.


Although the guinea is no longer in circulation, its legacy lives on in the realm of horse racing. The races that bear its name hold immense prestige and continue to attract the best horses and jockeys in the world. The guinea’s historical significance and association with equine excellence make it an enduring symbol in the annals of this captivating sport.

Prize Money of the Guineas
RacePrize Money
Guineas (colts)£500,000
Guineas (fillies)£350,000
Two Thousand Guineas£750,000
One Thousand Guineas£500,000
Epsom Guineas£450,000

Guineas in Horse Racing: A Guide for Beginners

In the world of horse racing, guineas are a specific type of currency that have been used for centuries. They are typically used to represent a horse’s winnings or value, and they hold a significant place in the sport’s history and tradition.

Value of a Guinea

A guinea was originally equivalent to one pound and one shilling, or 21 shillings. This value has remained relatively stable over time, and today, a guinea is still worth approximately £1.05.

Historical Significance

Guineas have a long and storied history in horse racing. The first guineas were introduced in the early 18th century, and they quickly became a popular way to represent a horse’s worth or winnings. The name “guinea” is said to come from the gold coins that were used to pay for the first races.

Over the years, guineas have become synonymous with horse racing. They are often used to represent the prize money for major races, and they are also used to calculate a horse’s value for breeding purposes.

Current Use

While guineas are no longer used as a form of currency in everyday life, they continue to be used in horse racing. They are typically used in the following ways:

  • To represent the prize money for major races
  • To calculate a horse’s value for breeding purposes
  • To express a horse’s winnings

Guineas are a unique and important part of horse racing. They hold a significant place in the sport’s history and tradition, and they continue to be used to represent a horse’s value and winnings.

Guineas in Horse Racing

Guineas are a type of currency used in horse racing to pay for race entry fees. They are typically used in races in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and other parts of Europe.

Guineas as Race Entry Fees

  • The amount of guineas required to enter a race varies depending on the race and the racecourse.
  • For example, the entry fee for the Epsom Derby is 10,000 guineas.
  • The entry fee for the Royal Ascot Gold Cup is 4,500 guineas.

The guineas are typically paid by the owner of the horse. If the horse wins the race, the owner will receive the prize money, which is usually much more than the entry fee.

Guineas are a long-standing tradition in horse racing. They are a way to add prestige and excitement to the sport.

RaceEntry Fee (Guineas)
Epsom Derby10,000
Royal Ascot Gold Cup4,500
Guineas Stakes1,000
Oaks Stakes1,000

Guineas in Horse Racing

The term “guineas” is often used in the context of horse racing, particularly in reference to certain prestigious races and their prize money. Guineas is a former British gold coin that was introduced in the 17th century and remained in circulation until the early 20th century. It was named after the African country of Guinea, from where the gold for the coins was originally sourced.

In horse racing, guineas refer to the prize money awarded to the winners of certain races. Unlike other races where the prize money is typically stated in pounds sterling or other currencies, guineas are still used as a unit of measurement for some of the most iconic and historical races.

Guineas as Prize Money

  • The 1000 Guineas: Run at Newmarket Racecourse, this race is open to three-year-old fillies and offers a prize pot of 500,000 guineas (approximately £525,000).
  • The 2000 Guineas: Also run at Newmarket, this race is for three-year-old colts and geldings, with a prize pool of 500,000 guineas (approximately £525,000).
  • The 1000 Guineas Stakes: Held at the Curragh Racecourse in Ireland, this race is for three-year-old fillies and offers a prize fund of 250,000 guineas (approximately £262,500).
  • The 2000 Guineas Stakes: Run at the Curragh, this race is for three-year-old colts and geldings, with a prize pool of 250,000 guineas (approximately £262,500).
Guineas Races and Prize Money
RacePrize Money (Guineas)Approximate Value (GBP)
The 1000 Guineas500,000525,000
The 2000 Guineas500,000525,000
The 1000 Guineas Stakes250,000262,500
The 2000 Guineas Stakes250,000262,500

It’s worth noting that while guineas are still used to denote the prize money for these specific races, the actual payments are typically made in pounds sterling. The conversion from guineas to pounds sterling is fixed at 1 guinea = £1.05.

Well, there you have it, folks! Now you know all about guineas in horse racing. I hope you found this article informative and entertaining. Thanks for reading, and remember if I missed anything or something is incorrect, please reach out to me and let me know so that I can make any necessary changes to future articles. I always appreciate feedback. Otherwise, come back and visit me again soon for more exciting horse racing content! 😉