The second race of Day One at Royal Ascot, the Coventry Stakes is a short flat race offering young horses the opportunity to show everyone what they are made of. With a reputation for showcasing the future legends of British horse racing, this race is one to keep your eye on.
The Coventry Stakes is run on a stretch of Ascot Racecourse nicknamed the ‘straight mile’, although the distance of this particular race is 6 furlongs (1,207 metres) rather than the full mile. It’s a straight track with a turf surface that has better drainage than the rest of the Ascot course.
The history of the Coventry Stakes
Established in 1890, the Coventry Stakes was named after the 9th Earl of Coventry, who served between 1886 and 1892 as Master of the Buckhounds (representing the Royal Family at Ascot). Under the current grading system (introduced in 1971), the Coventry Stakes was originally a Grade Three race but its status was raised in 2004 to Group Two.
In 2005 the Coventry Stakes – along with all the other Royal Ascot races – was run at York after the Ascot Racecourse was temporarily closed in 2004 for major redevelopment work.
Many horses throughout history have won the Coventry Stakes and then gone on to become legends of their time.
In the early days such horses have included the famous stallion Persimmon in 1895, Rock Sand in 1902 (who won 16 of the 20 races he ran in his two-year career) and The Tetrarch in 1913 – considered the greatest British-trained two-year-old of the 20th century.
Some later examples are Dante (1944), who went on to win the English Derby, and Martial (1959), who won the Coventry Stakes despite injury in the race and the following year ran to glory as the first Irish-trained colt to win the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket (as an 18/1 outsider) in that race’s history.
As a juveniles’ race, the Coventry Stakes is a great opportunity to spot talent of the future. A number of horses who started out in this race have gone on to become stars of the following season’s three-year-old races and other big events.
However, being a race for juveniles with very little experience, the Coventry Stakes is a very hard race to make predictions for.
A chance for young horses to flex their muscles, the Coventry Stakes is a gripping demonstration of new talent in the horse racing circuit. With no set pattern for winners, this one is perfect for spectators who enjoy a flutter.