The English Classics comprise the season's five most prestigious group 1 races for three year old thoroughbreds. Unlike the American Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing, the Classics are not considered to be a championship series, with very few three year old thoroughbred racehorses competing in more than two races during the course of a flat racing season.

Instead, the Classics are run over various distances and apply different entry criteria. The season begins at Newmarket with the running of the Newmarket Guineas. The 2,000 Guineas is run on a Saturday in April, over a distance of 1 mile, and is followed a day later by the 1,000 Guineas, which is run by fillies over the same distance.

During early June the Classics move to Epsom Racecourse. The Epsom Oaks is the third Classic of the year, and is run on a Saturday over a distance of 1 mile 4 furlongs by fillies. The Epsom Derby, regarded by many to be the greatest of the Classics, is run the following day over the same distance by the finest 3 year old thoroughbreds in Europe.

The Classics conclude on a Saturday in September with the running of the fifth Classic - the St Leger Stakes. The oldest of the Classics is run at Doncaster Racecourse over a distance of 1 mile 6 furlongs. The St Leger Stakes is regarded as the third leg of both the colts' and fillies' English Triple Crowns.