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.

Ascot King Edward VII Stakes

The Royal Ascot: The King Edward VII Stakes

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The King Edward VII Stakes is run as the second race on Day Four of the five-day Royal Ascot meeting. It is an opportunity for younger horses to test their mettle in this prestigious event, charging across the flat into a place in racing history.

Key information

Although the King Edward VII Stakes is today only open to colts and geldings aged three, it was in its early history also open to fillies of the same age.

The Group Two race is run over the 2,414 metre flat course at Ascot, which is approximately 1 mile, 4 furlongs. Weight for the race is 9st, although horses that have previously won either a Group One or Group Two race of at least one and a quarter miles have a weight penalty added of a further 3lb.

The prize purse stood at £185,000 in 2015, with winners Balios and Jamie Spencer gaining a share of £104,914.

Royal Ascot King Edward Stakes

The history of the King Edward VII Stakes

Inaugurated in 1834 as the Ascot Derby Stakes it is one of the oldest races still in existence at Royal Ascot. It was given its current name in 1926 to honour the eponymous King, who died in 1910.

The race usually features a number of horses who are fresh from running the Epsom Derby, which is held approximately two weeks earlier in the year.

Race records

The records for leading jockey and leading trainer have remained unbeaten since 1904. Jockey Morny Cannon won the race on St Simon of the Rock in 1891 and Osboch in 1901, while trainer John Porter saw wins with The Palmer in 1867, Pero Gomez in 1869, Shotover in 1882 and then The Child of the Mist in 1885.

Cannon and Porter together won the race with Matchmaker, Conroy and Frontier in 1895, 1896 and 1899, and then after the turn of the century enjoyed a further two victories together with Flying Lemur in 1902 and Darley Dale in 1904.

With both races being highly similar in terms of conditions and trip, the Epsom Derby is usually a good indicator of form for the King Edward VII Stakes and many horses will be seen competing in both events each year.

King Edward VII Stakes leaders

The favourites have a great track record for wins here – roughly half of races in recent years have been won by the favourite, although 2015 winner Balios was second favourite priced at 3/1.

With so many favourites winning relative to other races this is not necessarily one to take an each-way punt on a long shot. The longest price winner this century so far was Eagle Top in 2012 who came in at 12/1, with every other winner over that period having odds of 9/1 or less.

The last true long-shot to win here was Amfortas at 66/1 back in 1996, making this a popular race for bettors who like shorter odds and lower risk.

Attracting some excellent young talent from the world of horse racing, the King Edward VII Stakes offers spectators the chance to pick out the future stars of the sport, in this historic Royal Ascot flat race.

Royal Ascot Commonwealth Cup leaders

The Royal Ascot: The Commonwealth Cup

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The Commonwealth Cup is the third race of the fourth day at the Royal Ascot meeting held each June. It is unique in the flat racing calendar in that it is the single event for three-year-olds in which geldings are allowed to compete.

Key information

It is run on the straight at Ascot over a distance of six furlongs (1,207 metres). The inaugural running of the race took place in 2015, won by Muhaarar ridden by jockey Dane O’Neill and trained by Charlie Hills.

The purse is £375,000, with £212,663 up for grabs for the winner.

It is a Group One race, taking the total number of Group One events at Royal Ascot to eight, which is just shy of one quarter of all the Group One races that are run in the UK.

Royal Ascot Commonwealth Cup jockeys

The newest race at Royal Ascot

The introduction of the Commonwealth Cup in 2015 came about as part of a set of changes to sprint races across Europe. The Diamond Jubilee Stakes, which is held the following day, was closed to three-year old horses while the Buckingham Palace Stakes was removed from the Royal Ascot schedule altogether to make way for this new race.

A bumper field of 18 runners were entered, including Tiggy Wiggy, Limato and Hootenanny. Tiggy Wiggy came to the race having won six out of eight starts the previous season and having just finished in third position in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas.

Limato had a virtually unbeaten record until being beaten at Haydock in his last race, while Hootenanny took home the Windsor Castle and the Breeders Cup in 2015.

 Of those three highly fancied entrants only one came near the top of the field as Limato took second place behind the 10/1 winner Muhaarar.

A new opportunity for three-year-olds to charge to victory at Royal Ascot, the Commonwealth Cup is the exciting second race on Day Four at the historic meeting, with plenty of records yet to make and break.

Coronation Stakes

The Royal Ascot: The Coronation Stakes

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The Coronation Stakes is run as the fourth race on Day Four of Royal Ascot. A thrilling race for three-year-old fillies, it showcases some of the best young horses on the horse racing scene.

Key information

The Commonwealth Stakes is open to three-year-old fillies, with many of the runners having previously been seen in the 1,000 Guineas, the Irish 1,000 Guineas or the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches.

It is a sprint run over a distance of 1,609 metres (or one mile) on a right-handed course at Ascot. Weight is 9st and the total prize purse in 2015 reached £275,000, with winning team Ervedya ridden by Christophe Soumillon and trained by Jean-Claude Rouget taking home £212,663.

The history of the Coronation Stakes

This Grade One event was initially introduced to the meeting in 1840 in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s coronation which took place in 1838.

It was given Group One status in 1988, having been a Group Two race since the introduction of the current grading system in 1971.

Race records

In the long history of the Coronation Stakes no jockey has been able to beat the joint record of five wins apiece set by Nat Flatman and Morny Cannon in the late 19th century.

Flatman rode to victory here in 1844, 1845, 1848, 1849 and 1851 aboard The Princess, Stitch, Distaffina, Lady Evelyn and Barcelona respectively.

Cannon came in first position in the three consecutive years from 1892–1894 on Lady Hermit, Silene and then Throstle and again in 1896 and 1898 on Helm and Lowood.

The leading trainer with six wins also dates back to the 19th century, when John Porter entered winning horses in 1883, 1884, 1891, 1894, 1896 and 1898: Lovely, Sandiway, Cereza, Throstle, Helm and Lowood.

The leading owner to date is Waldorf Astor with seven winning entrants from the early years of the 20th century. In 1910, 1922, 1925, 1927, 1931, 1933 and 1936, the 2nd Viscount Astor was responsible for winning horses Winkipop, Pogrom, Saucy Sue, Book Law, Sunny Devon, Betty and Traffic Light.

The Coronation Stakes attracts a high class of filly with its Group One status and is often a race in which favourites perform well. 12 of the past 18 winners were priced as either first or second favourite, making this an easy betting choice for spectators.

Royal Ascot: The Duke of Edinburgh Stakes

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The penultimate race on Day Four of Royal Ascot is the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes.

This is an exciting chance to witness early outings of horses that could then go on to win big at Group level, such as Fox Hunt (2011), Young Mick (2006) and Blueprint (1999) who went on to take the Deutsches St Leger, the Cumberland Lodge Stakes and the Jockey Club Stakes respectively.

Key information

The Duke of Edinburgh Stakes is a race for three-year-old horses and older. A flat handicap race, this is run on the right-handed course over a distance of 2,414 metres or 1 mile, 4 furlongs.

The prize purse in 2015 was £75,000 in total, with the winning horse and jockey Arab Dawn and Richard Hughes scooping £46,687.50.

The history of the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes

The Duke of Edinburgh Stakes began life in the early 20th century as the Bessborough Stakes, named for the 5th Earl of Bessborough, who served as Master of the Buckhounds throughout the 1840s, 50s and 60s.

It was granted its current title in 1914, when it was run as a race for two-year-old horses over 5 furlongs.

The title later passed to another Royal Ascot race but from 1999 the modern Duke of Edinburgh Stakes was here to stay, named for the current Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip.

Race records

Jockey Ryan Moore is certainly one to watch, having ridden three winners in the last eight years, with Sugar Ray in 2008, Opinion in 2013 and Arab Spring in 2014.

Trainer Sir Michael Stoute was responsible for all three of those winners as well as a further three in 1998, 1999 and 2005: Greek Palace, Blueprint and Notable Guest.

Four-year-old horses have dominated the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes for several decades now, taking 19 wins since 1988.

In terms of starting price anything goes – more recent years have seen short-odds horses take the field, but from 2009 to 2011 winners came in at 14/1, 16/1 and 12/1, and the 2006 victor Young Mick had a starting price of 28/1.

This is one race where the draw doesn’t seem to have too much of an effect on the outcome of the race, as the runners have enough time to find their feet.

The race typically attracts as slightly smaller field than some of the more prestigious Group races but represents a great opportunity to witness the early outings of those that are destined for bigger things.

The playground of future horse racing stars, the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes is a thrilling handicap race, with opportunity for spectators to pick out the ones to watch in future events.