Category Archives: Royal Ascot

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The Royal Ascot: The King’s Stand Stakes

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Rumoured to have originated as a result of typical bad British weather and a half-drowned racecourse, the King’s Stand Stakes has become one of the most exciting events at the Royal Ascot meeting.

Key information

Entrants in the King’s Stand Stakes must be thoroughbreds, aged three years or older. The number of competitors in the race ranges – over the last decade, the average number of participants running was 18, with as few as 12 entrants in 2010 and as many as 28 entrants in 2006.

The race is a sprint event, run on a flat track over a distance of 5 furlongs, which is just over 1 kilometre long. The short nature of the track and the volume of participants make for one of the most rapid and thrilling races of the event.

The purse is a staggering £375,000, with £212,663 awarded to the winner.

The Royal Ascot The King’s Stand Stakes

Having been promoted back to Group 1 status in 2008, the King’s Stand Stakes is a lively and competitive race that brings horses of the highest calibre together for a few breath-taking moments. One of only two Group One sprint races at Royal Ascot, it occurs on the first day of the event.

In 2005, the King’s Stand Stakes became the first leg of the two British racing events included in the Global Sprint Challenge, which is a series of races spanning jurisdictions around the world, creating an extra tier of competition for the best sprint racers.

Since being added to the Global Sprint Challenge line-up, the King’s Stand Stakes has seen a jump in the number of international entrants, raising the bar even higher.

The Royal AscotThe King’s Stand Stakes

The leading jockey is horse racing legend Lester Piggot, who racked up some seven wins in the King’s Stand Stakes over his career between 1957 and 1985.

The most successful trainer in the race’s history is Vincent O’Brien, who won with Cassarate (1962), Abergwaun (1973), Godswalk (1977), Solinus (1978) and Never So Bold (1985).

The top-level of competition from entrants all over the world and the intensity of the setting make the King’s Stand Stakes one of the most popular racing events, not only at Royal Ascot, but also on the global racing platform.

For over 100 years, viewers have eagerly anticipated the promise of a few hoof-pounding and heart-thumping seconds, all thanks to a muddy track and some top-class quick thinking.

Rumoured to have originated as a result of typical bad British weather and a half-drowned racecourse, the King’s Stand Stakes has become one of the most exciting events at the Royal Ascot meeting.

Royal Ascot Jersey Stakes horses

Royal Ascot: The Jersey Stakes

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At some point, everyone needs a second chance – including thoroughbred racehorses.

The Jersey Stakes, held appropriately on the second day of the Royal Ascot meeting, presents the perfect opportunity for horses who haven’t bagged a win to compete against other title-less hopefuls for a chance at the number one spot.

Key information

Competitors are limited to three-year-old thoroughbreds who have yet to win a Group One or Group Two race, opening up the playing field (or track, rather) to those who have come close-but-no-cigar in top level competitions such as the British Classics or French and Irish 1,000 Guineas.

At a flat distance of 7 furlongs (1,408 metres), the race attracts not only the participants who have fallen short of a mile title, but also those looking to step it up a notch from sprint competitions.

In the last decade, the average number of participants was about 16, ranging widely with a low of 9 in 2011 and a surprising turnout of 23 in 2014.

One of the only two 7-furlong challenges in the meeting, the event sets the stage for a diverse competition. Different racing strengths and styles meet in the middle to make the most of the opportunity to finally snag the winner’s trophy.

Royal Ascot Jersey Stakes riders

The history of the Jersey Stakes

The race was named after the 4th Earl of Jersey, George Villiers, who was Master of the Buckhounds from 1782–1783.

As it happens, hounds and horses go hand-in-hand (or paw-in-hoof) and George was also the Royal Representative at Ascot. A top-notch doorman and all around sporting gentleman, he was responsible for admitting people into the Royal Enclosure.

Prior to 1919, the Triennial Stakes was a three-cycle race – comprising a 5-furlong sprint for two-year-olds, a seven-furlong race for three-year-olds, and a two-mile trek for four-year-olds.

Originally, the same horses would compete in the next level each year, cycling through the tiers consecutively. After WWI, in 1919, the Jersey Stakes replaced the second leg of the internal competition.

In one of the most memorable races in recent meetings, 2010’s Rainfall broke the stalemate of male domination to become the first filly to win in 15 years. Talk about girl power.

Royal Ascot Jersey Stakes leaders

Race records

Though the horses may not have tasted victory before, there are a few jockeys who know a thing or two about what it takes to be the first to reach the finish line, again and again.

Tied as leading jockey with six wins, Sir Gordon Richards was victorious between 1929 and 1953 followed shortly by Lester Piggott, who was successful between 1961 and 1981.

Sir Michael Stoute holds the role of leading trainer, with five wins between 1977 and 2006.

The Jersey Stakes presents a unique opportunity for high-calibre horses to compete against each other in an equal, victory-less context. We can imagine that winning for the first time tastes as good as… a nice juicy carrot.

Ascot Duke of Cambridge Stakes

The Royal Ascot: The Duke of Cambridge Stakes

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Named after the Wills portion of Kate and Wills, The Duke of Cambridge Stakes is a contest that features as part of Royal Ascot, staged around the namesake course.

Key information

Female horses who are aged four or older – better known as fillies and mares – can compete in this flat race, run over the distance of just one mile (1,609 metres).

Weight requirements stand at 9st, with penalties of 5lb and 3lb for previous winners of Group One or Group Two races, respectively.

Out of the eight runners, around £76,000 awaits the lucky winner, taking home the lion’s share of the typical £135,000 prize fund, with pay-outs continuing all the way up to the sixth place horse and jockey partnership.

The history of the Duke of Cambridge Stakes

The Duke of Cambridge Stakes was formerly known as the Windsor Forest Stakes since its inception in 2004. It was renamed in 2013, when the current royal name was bestowed upon it.

With the need for more races for fillies spreading across Europe in 2004, the Duke of Cambridge Stakes was one of the races borne from this; the incentive for such races was to keep female horses from being exported or retired to stud too early.

Duke of Cambridge Stakes riders

Race records

No horse has ever won the race twice, meaning this record is still up for grabs. However, two jockeys have ridden the winning horse twice, Wayne Lordan in 2011 and 2013, and Ryan Moore in 2010 and 2014.

Moore also holds the record of quickest time around the course, clocking a 1:37:09 in 2014. Sir Michael Stoute claims the title of most wins by a single trainer, with four wins occurring over a decade from 2004 to 2014.

The vast majority of winners have been four years old, with just two horses aged five and above winning the Duke of Cambridge Stakes since its inception in 2004.

As a sprint over a short distance, this is an action-packed eight-fold contest that’s sure to drum up excitement in every equestrian enthusiast.

Royal Ascot Sandringham Stakes

The Royal Ascot: The Sandringham Stakes

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Also frequently called the Sandringham Handicap, the Sandringham Stakes is the final race on day two of Royal Ascot, wrapping things up before events kick off again the following afternoon.

Key information

Let’s start from the top: a handicap race is one in which horses carry different weights, all allocated by the handicapper. A better horse will carry a heavier weight, aimed at creating a fair field and an exciting race.

The Sandringham Stakes is a flat race – no jumps to be found here – which is open to three-year-old female horses, better known amongst the equestrian community as ‘fillies’. Around 17 horses are expected to take to the turf every year, with the winner earning around £40,000 in prize money.

Run over the course of a mile (1,609 metres), expect the winning horse to cross the finishing line in a time of around 1:40:00 if the going is good.

Royal Ascot Sandringham Stakes riders

The history of the Sandringham Stakes

Originally called the Fern Hill Rated Stakes, it used to be run at the Ascot Health Meeting, hosted on the Saturday after Royal Ascot. Since then, it has always taken place on the second day of Ascot itself.

The race was renamed in 2002 in conjunction with the Golden Jubilee commemorations, named for the royal residence of Sandringham.

Historically, the race dates well back into the 19th century, with famous thoroughbred Galopin winning the event twice in a row in 1874 and 1875.

Royal Ascot Sandringham Stakes leader

Race records

Many a famous jockey has completed for glory in the Sandringham Stakes, with Frankie Dettori riding to victory on no fewer than six occasions, the latest being in 2015 on Osaila. Wayne Lordan, riding Duntle in 2012, clocked a winning time of 1:37:90, which is still the figure to beat.

Another renowned figure in the sport, Willie Carson, won the race – then still called the Fern Hill Rated Stakes – all the way back in 1989 riding Minstrel Guest.

The Sandringham Stakes is the perfect event to finish off a day of racing at Royal Ascot, with three days’ action still to follow. And as the race is only for horses aged three, it’s a great chance to see a few potential champions of the future during the early years of their careers.

Ascot Prince of Wales's Stakes

The Royal Ascot: The Prince of Wales’s Stakes

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Featuring as part of the much-celebrated event of Royal Ascot, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes is an exciting sprint with its roots firmly planted all the way back in the 19th century.

Key information

Taking place on the second day of the famous racing festival, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes follows the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, with two more races still to run before the day is through.

Ten riders and horses take to the track, running this flat race over the course of 1 mile and 2 furlongs (2,012 metres). Horses must be at least four years old to enter.

Riders look to gain a share of the typical £750,000 prize kitty, with the winner taking home a fairly hefty £297,000 or so, while the rest of the winnings are scaled down all the way to the sixth placed finisher.

Prince of Wales's Stakes riders

The history of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes

Just about everything has changed since the Prince of Wales’s Stakes’ inception all the way back in 1862. Named after the Prince of Wales at the time, the future King Edward VII, the original race was a tad longer, run over 1 mile and 5 furlongs.

The race saw a bit of a hiatus after World War II, but returned in 1968, just a year before the current Prince of Wales, Charles, would earn the royal title.

With the original race restricted to three-year-olds, horses aged four or older were allowed to participate after its revamp in 1968, with the race as we know it today being tweaked to perfection in 2000, with the minimum age raised to four.

Royal Ascot Prince Wales's Stakes

Race records

Three horses have won the race twice over the years, with the most recent being Muhtarram in 1994 and 1995. The much-celebrated old-time jockey, Morny Cannon, holds the record for most wins – six, between 1895 and 1905.

2014’s winner, The Fugue, clocked the fastest time on record, with a sub-2:02:00 time of 2:01:90. She was ridden to victory by William Buick.

This historic race is part of Day Two’s thrilling schedule, with plenty of excitement to keep spectators on the edge of their seats.

Royal Ascot Queen's Vase

The Royal Ascot: The Queen’s Vase

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The Queen’s Vase race closes the fourth day of Royal Ascot and is one of just three ‘perpetual trophy’ events that take place at the meeting.

A highly prestigious race, the prize each year is presented by the Queen herself and, unlike most other trophies presented at the meeting, can be kept by the winning team. The only other two perpetual trophies are the Gold Cup and the Royal Hunt Cup.

Key information

The Queen’s Vase is one of the longer races at Royal Ascot, run over a distance of 3,219 metres or 2 full miles, making it a real test of stamina for what are essentially young and mostly untested horses.

Weight is 9st 3lb, with a weight allowance of 3lb for fillies, and weight penalties of 3lb for previous Group Three winners and 5lb for previous Group One or Two winners.

The prize purse totalled £85,000 in 2015 and the winning team got to take home £48,203.50 along with their trophy.

Royal Ascot Queen's Vase

The history of the Queen’s Vase

The inaugural Queen’s Vase race was held in 1838, with the newly-crowned Queen Victoria donating a gold vase as the trophy. The name was changed from 1901 until 1960 to the King’s Vase, whereupon it reverted to the original title under Queen Elizabeth II and has remained so since.

The Queen’s Vase was awarded Group Three status when the current listing system was introduced in 1971 but was later downgraded to a Listed race in 1986. Originally open to a wider field, it was restricted to horses aged three in 1987.

In 1991 the race was promoted back to Group Three level but was relegated once more in 2014. Despite its Listed status, the prestige attached to this race means that it attracts a lot of young runners of a higher class than might otherwise be seen here.

Royal Ascot Queen's Vase

Race records

No jockey in recent years has managed to break the record set by George Fordham in the 19th century. Fordham recorded six wins here between 1857 and 1882, with Arsenal, Sedbury, Horror, Marie Stuart, Ambassadress and Tristan.

The current record for leading trainer was set much more recently, with Henry Cecil taking responsibility for eight winners between 1972 and 1999: Falkland, General Ironside, Le Moss, Arden, River God, Jendali, Stelvio and Endorsement.

In recent years, trainer Aidan O’Brien has been performing well here with four winners since 2007, while jockey Ryan Moore has taken home the vase on three occasions since 2008.

With many horses entering the race who are as yet unproven in terms of stamina this can be a tricky one for bookmakers and bettors alike.

As a historic and prestigious feature of the Royal Ascot meeting, the Queen’s Vase is sure to attract a large crowd of spectators, as the three-year-olds charge across Ascot’s right-hand track in the attempt to claim the coveted vase.

The Queen’s Vase race closes the fourth day of Royal Ascot and is one of just three ‘perpetual trophy’ events that take place at the meeting.

Royal Ascot: The Hardwicke Stakes

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The Hardwicke Stakes takes place on the final day of Royal Ascot and is the precursor to what is arguably the most prestigious race of the meeting, the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

While its follow-up act is somewhat of a main event, the Hardwicke Stakes is nevertheless one of the bigger races of Royal Ascot and one not to be missed.

Key information

The Hardwicke Stakes is open to horses aged four and above. It is a Group Two flat race run at Royal Ascot’s right-handed turf course. Weight is 9st exactly with a 3lb weight allowance for mares and fillies.

The prize purse stands at £200,000 with £113, 420 of that going to the winners.

The field for the Hardwicke Stakes is usually relatively small and fancied horses have lived up to expectations on many occasions. This prestigious race attracts a high class of horse, with many going on to enter the following month’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

The history of the Hardwicke Stakes

The inaugural running of the Hardwicke Stakes took place in 1879 and was won by Chippendale. It was named for the 5th Earl of Hardwicke, one of the 19th century’s Masters of the Buckhounds.

In its original format the race was open to horses from the age of three, with the last ever three-year-old win occurring in 1949 with Helioscope.

Race records

For the most successful horse in the Hardwicke Stakes we have to look back to the 19th century and Tristan, whose record of three consecutive wins from 1882 to 1884 has never yet been beaten. In recent years Assatis (1989–90), Rock Hopper (1991–92), Fruits of Love (1999–2000) and Maraahel (2006–07) have managed two consecutive wins but none has managed the hat-trick.

In terms of leading jockeys, two have managed to achieve victory here on seven separate occasions. The legendary Lester Piggott won in 1955, 1961, 1970, 1974, 1977, 1982 and 1985 with Elopement, St Paddy, Karabas, Relay Race, Meneval, Critique and Jupiter Island, respectively.

The feat was equalled some years later by Pat Eddery with two consecutive wins on Charlie Bubbles and Orange Bay in 1975 and 1976, Dihistan 10 years later in 1986 and Assatis in 1989, on Rock Hopper for both wins in 1991–92, and finally Posidonas in 1998.

The most successful trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, has had nine winners so far and could increase that record over the coming years. Stoute was responsible for the last two double-winners: Rock Hopper and Maraheel.

He also claimed Dihistan in 1986, Harbinger in 2010 and Sea Moon in 2012 before going on to win with Telescope in 2014 and Snow Sky in 2015.

As one of the most exciting and eagerly-anticipated races at Royal Ascot, the Hardwicke Stakes is definitely one to watch on the final day of the prestigious meeting.

Ascot Diamond Jubilee Stakes

Royal Ascot: The Diamond Jubilee Stakes

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The Diamond Jubilee Stakes has long been one of the main highlights of Royal Ascot each year and, along with the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, has by far the biggest prize purse.

This prestigious Group One race takes place on the final day of the Royal Ascot meeting as the fourth race of the day.

Key information

The Diamond Jubilee Stakes is open to horses aged four and above, and is a Group One flat race run on the fifth and last day of Royal Ascot each year. It is run over a straight course with a distance of 1,207 metres or six furlongs.

Weight is 9st 4lb, with a 3lb allowance for mares and fillies. The prize purse is one of the biggest in horse racing, standing at £525,000 with the winners receiving £297,728.

Until the introduction of the new race for three-year-olds – the Commonwealth Cup – in 2015, the Diamond Jubilee was open to horses from three years old, but this has since been restricted with a minimum entry age of four.

Ascot Diamond Jubilee Stakes

The history of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes

This event was inaugurated in 1868 and was run as the All-Aged for many years. The first ever winner was Laneret. In 1926 the name of the race was changed to honour the 9th Earl of Cork, with the event becoming known as the Cork and Orrery Stakes.

In 2002 the race was renamed again, this time in honour of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. The name was further updated in 2012 when Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee.

Since modern classification began in 1971, the Diamond Jubilee Stakes has been promoted twice. Initially classed in Group Three, the race was re-graded as Group Two in 1998 and promoted once more in 2002 to the status of Group One which it retains to this day.

In 2005 the Global Sprint Challenge, a new series of international races, was established, which included the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in its roster.

Ascot Diamond Jubilee Stakes

Race records
To find the most successful winning horse we have to go back past the turn of two centuries. Prince Charlie was victorious here on three consecutive occasions in 1872, 1873 and 1874, and this record has remained unbeaten ever since.

Jockey Lester Piggott has had plenty of success in this race, with nine wins throughout his career. He was victorious for three consecutive years: twice on Right Boy in 1958 and 1959, and then on Tin Whistle in 1960.

Others got the glory for the following two years but Piggott was back in style in 1963 with El Gallo. Further wins came in 1968 on Mountain Call, 1970 on Welsh Saint, 1974 on Saritamer, 1979 on Thatching and 1993 on College Chapel.

Leading trainer Vincent O’Brien was responsible for the last four of Piggott’s winning horses and for Swingtime, who won in 1975 ridden by Willie Carson.

Joseph Dawson, owner of Prince Charlie, has been equalled in wins only by Jack Joel who entered Sunflower II, who won in 1912, and Hamlet who won in both 1923 and 1924.

As one of the most watched and most backed races of Royal Ascot, the Diamond Jubilee Stakes is for many the highlight of the week.

Royal Ascot: The Wokingham Stakes

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The Wokingham Stakes is the penultimate race on the final day of the Royal Ascot meeting held in June each year. Following on from the day’s feature race, the excitement is far from over as this race is one of the most popular events of the week.

It is a handicap race with a typically large field of up to 30 runners, and appeals strongly to bettors as even the favourite is often priced in or close to double figures.

Key information

The Wokingham Stakes is a sprint race run on the straight on the final day of Royal Ascot. It is open to horses aged from three years and is a handicap race run over a distance of 1,207 metres or 6 furlongs.

The total prize purse stands at £175,000 and the winning team receive £108,937.50 of that.

The history of the Wokingham Stakes

The Wokingham Stakes has been an integral part of the Royal Ascot line-up since 1813, where the Duke of York’s horse Pointers won the inaugural running.

Until 1874 the race was divided into two or three divisions or classes. It has remained largely unchanged since becoming a single race.

Race records

Only four horses have won the Wokingham Stakes twice despite its long history, with the most recent being Selhurstpark Flyer with two consecutive victories in 1997 and 1998. Prior to this Concerto, Portland Bay and Wokingham also recorded two consecutive wins in 1932–33, 1908–09 and 1881–82 respectively.

There have been seven jockeys and four trainers who have each managed to steal victory on three separate occasions. Jockeys Fred Archer, Otto Madden, Harry Wragg, Jack Sirett, Lester Piggott, Willie Carson and Johnny Murtagh have all had three winners, as have trainers Joe Cannon, Richard Marsh, Charles Morton and Paul Cole.

Choosing the winner of the Wokingham Stakes is perhaps one of the most difficult selections in all of Royal Ascot week. 2015’s winner Interception was priced at 10/1, making six double-priced winners in 10 races, including 2012’s surprise winner Dandy Boy at 33/1.

The two wins for jockey Johnny Murtagh both came in recent years so he could be one to watch. Lightly weighted horses are infrequent winners so the top end of the handicap is often a good place to start looking.

Maintaining the excitement of Day Five at Royal Ascot, the Wokingham Stakes is another big event of the race meeting, attracting a huge crowd of spectators all hoping to win big.

Royal Ascot Britannia Stakes leaders

Royal Ascot: The Britannia Stakes

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The Britannia Stakes traditionally takes place on the Thursday of Royal Ascot, the day referred to colloquially (although not officially) as Ladies’ Day.

The Britannia Stakes may have a hard act to follow (coming immediately after the Gold Cup) but that doesn’t detract from the excitement. The large field alone (maximum 30 runners) provides an edge over smaller races while the straight mile course results in one of the most strongly-fought contests of the flat season.

Key information

The Britannia Stakes Heritage handicap was first run in 1928 and three have been very few changes made to the race since that time.

It is run over the same course at Ascot as the Royal Hunt Cup and over the same distance as well at 1,609 metres or a straight mile. The race is open to colts and geldings aged three years old, competing for a prize purse of £120,000 as of 2015, with the winning team awarded £74,700.

Royal Ascot Britannia Stakes rider

Race records

Ryan Moore’s 2015 win on War Envoy did more than win him the prize purse. His victory in the Britannia combined with his eight other wins at Royal Ascot that year to make nine, outranking Lester Piggott and Pat Eddery for most wins in a single year.

The overall record for wins in one Royal Ascot meeting is still 12, set by Fred Archer in 1878.

John Gosden is the most successful trainer of recent years, with four wins to his name between 1996 and 2001.

The draw often plays a large part in the results of such a large race and this is no exception, with those close to the rail on either side often having the advantage.

The starting prices don’t often give a good indication of the final results, as can be seen by the high number of double-priced winners over the past few years. Surprise winners include Roca Tumu in 2013 who won with odds of 20/1, Fifteen Love in 2008 at 28/1, Eddie Jock in 2007 at 33/1 and Pentecost in 2002 at 25/1.

As a handicap race weight can also make a huge difference – only three of the last fourteen winners have carried over 9st, including 2015’s winner War Envoy with 9st 6lb.

As the penultimate race of Royal Ascot’s Day Three, the Britannia Stakes maintains the spirit of the meeting, offering spectators another chance to cheer on their horses in one of the most competitive three-year-old handicaps on the season.