The History of the English Triple Crown

Good Evening!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com, today’s post is all about the history of the English Triple Crown which will soon be up on us. Let’s jump right into it!


The English Triple Crown is a three race competition which consists of the 2000 Guineas Stakes (1 mile), The Epsom Derby (1 & 1/2 miles) and the St Leger Stakes (1 mile, 6 furlongs & 127 yards.)

The term originated in 1853, before the American version, when West Australian won all three races in the same season. Since then, only 15 horses have completed the English Triple Crown, so let’s have a little look through the years!

In 1862, The Marquis came close when winning the 1st and 3rd legs, the 2000 Guineas and St Leger Stakes. The next year in 1863, Macaroni then came close when winning the first two legs, the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby. The following year in 1864, Blair Athol won the 2nd and 3rd legs, the Epsom Derby and the St Leger Stakes. But it was in 1865 when the next successful Triple Crown winner would emerge, that being Gladiateur who successfully won all 3 races, followed swiftly in 1866 by Lord Lyon who also won all 3.

Ten years later in 1876, we seen Petrarch win the 1st and 3rd legs, the 2000 Guineas and St Leger Stakes, the following year in 1877, Silvio won the 2nd and 3rd legs, the Epsom Derby and St Leger Stakes. It was then 1881 until another horse came close when Iroquois won legs 2 and 3, the Epsom Derby and St Leger Stakes. The following year in 1882, Shotover won the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby but could not complete the Triple Crown. In 1885 Melton won the Epsom Derby and the St Leger Stakes but it was the following year of 1886 when we would see a new Triple Crown winner when Ormonde won the three big races.

In 1889, another horse called Donovan won 2 of the 3 races, those being leg 2 – The Epsom Derby and leg 3 – the St Leger Stakes. However it would be 1891 when another horse became a Triple Crown winner and that horse would be a horse called Common who successfully won all 3 races, followed very quickly by Isinglass in 1893 who also managed to win all three races.

Ladas would be the next horse to come close when winning the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby in 1894. With Sir Visto in 1895 and Persimmon in 1896 both winning the Epsom Derby and St Leger Stakes. The following year in 1897, Galtee More became the 7th horse to complete the Triple Crown, followed very quickly by an 8th winner in Flying Fox in 1899, and a 9th being Diamond Jubilee in 1900.

In 1902, Sceptre won the 1st leg – the 2000 Guineas and the 3rd leg – the St Leger Stakes, but the following year in 1903 we would see the 10th Triple Crown winner crowned when Rock Sand completed the treble. In 1904, St Amant won the first two legs, the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby however not the third, followed by Minoru in 1909 and Sunstar in 1911 who both also won legs 1 and 2 but not the third.

We then seen the 11th, 12th and 13th Triple Crown winners come very quickly, with Pommern in 1915, Gay Crusader in 1917 and Gainsborough in 1918.

In 1925, Manna then won the 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby but not the St Leger Stakes, followed by Coronach in 1926 and Trigo in 1929 who both won the Epsom Derby and St Leger Stakes. In 1931, Cameronian won the 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby, with Hyperion in 1933 and Windsor Lad in 1934 both winning the Epsom Derby and St Leger Stakes. The following year in 1935, the 14th Triple Crown winner was crowned when Bahram completed the treble successfully.

In 1939, potentially another horse could have won the Triple Crown when Blue Peter won the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby, however the St Leger Stakes was cancelled due to World War II beginning, so I guess we’ll never know if he could have gone on to be in the history books.

It would then be 1949 before another horse came close when Nimbus won the first two legs, however could not complete the treble. This was followed by Tulyar in 1952 and Never Say Die in 1954 who both won leg 2 and leg 3. In 1957, Crepello then also won the first two legs, but not the third. 3 years later in 1960, St. Paddy then won legs 2 and 3. In 1968, Sir Ivor came close when winning the first two races but not the third. But it would be 1970 when the 15th and final Triple Crown winner was crowned and that was, of course, Nijinsky.

Since the final winning being crowned in 1970, there has been Reference Point who won legs 2 and 3 in 1987, Nashwan who won legs 1 and 2 in 1989, Sea the Stars who won legs 1 and 2 in 2009 and Camelot who also won legs 1 and 2 in 2012.

So, to sum that up, Nijinsky is the only horse to win the Triple Crown post World War II and one of the main reasons for this is the fact that most owners do not attempt to run their horses in the St Leger Stakes as the race is longer and it may diminish the horses stud value in the future. Interestingly enough, no horses that have won the first two races between 1987 and 2012, those being Nashwan, Sea the Stars and Camelot were actually entered into the St Leger Stakes.


So the real question is… Will there ever be another Triple Crown winner again? From my research, I think it would take a very talented horse but also a gutsy owner and trainer for a horse to win all three races again, but never say never. In racing, we all know that anything is possible.

I really enjoy researching the history of these big races and from my viewing figures my readers enjoy them too, so I hope you all enjoyed this one and I will see you all in my next post on Saturday at 11am!