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.
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.
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.