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.
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.
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.
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.