As the different competitions in the meeting developed over the decades, the event has shifted in specifics but remains as significant as ever.
Originally run over a straight mile course, the Windsor Castle Stakes is now a flat 5-furlong (about 1 kilometre) sprint. The age limit was restricted to include two-year-old colts and fillies.
Typically the last race to be run on the first day of the Royal Ascot meeting, it is classed as a listed race, meaning it falls just below group quality but is still a top-tier competition.
Generally attracting a high count of participants, the number of average competitors in the last decade is about 22, the lowest being a turnout of 14 in 2010 and with a recent peak totalling 27 in 2015.
The sizeable number of entrants and the short demands of the course make it a thriller to watch, with a lot of action condensed into only a few rapid furlongs.
The history of the Windsor Castle Stakes
Dating back to 1839, this race was originally structured for the three-year-old miler colts and fillies who’d previously had a go at the British Classics. It was formerly a Conditions race, but was promoted to a Listed race in 2004.
Traditionally, the Windsor Castle Stakes has served as an ideal platform for young thoroughbreds to take to the track and demonstrate just what they are capable of.
This was the case for the late racing superstar, jockey Pat Eddery, who holds the title for most wins since 1988, with six successes in the Windsor Castle Stakes. Richard Quinn comes close behind, with four wins in total, including three consecutive victories beginning in 1993.
The quickest win of recent years was achieved by jockey Kevin Darley and horse Titus Alone, who finished the race in 57.9 seconds.
A stage for future stars to make their mark, it is a difficult race to predict the outcome of due to the young nature of the competitors and the lack of collective racing history to work from. There have been close calls and shock winners in the past, such as in the 2008 victory of 1/100 Flashmans Papers.
An exciting and fast-paced event, the Windsor Castle Stakes opens up the track to new talent, debuting names who might become legendary a few years down the line. It’s an opportunity to watch history in the making.