From its early days as the Churchill Stakes to its role in Royal Ascot’s 300th anniversary, the Tercentenary Stakes has been a part of Ascot’s history under many guises, named and renamed to match sponsors, events, and a royal jubilee.
The Tercentenary Stakes is run each year on Day Three of Royal Ascot. A Group Three flat race open to three-year old horses this sprint is run over a distance of 2,012 metres or 1 mile 2 furlongs.
Weight is set at 9st, with fillies having a 3lb allowance. The prize purse totalled £75,000 as of 2015, with £42,533 going to winner Frankie Dettori on Time Test.
The history of the Tercentenary Stakes
This race has not long been part of the history of Royal Ascot. For some time, it was run at the Ascot Heath meeting, which was traditionally held on the Saturday after Royal Ascot at the time it was only a four-day event. During this time the then ungraded race was called the Churchill Stakes, run over 1 mile, 4 furlongs.
Sponsorship changes led to a new name in 1996, when the race became the Milcars Conditions Stakes. While Milcars continued with their support of the race until 2001, the name was changed once more in 1999 to the New Stakes as the race was given Listed status and the race distance cut to its current length. Prior to this the name New Stakes had referred to what is now known as the Norfolk Stakes.
In 2002 Royal Ascot commemorated Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee by extending the festival from four days to five, encompassing what had previously been Ascot Heath. At this time the New Stakes was moved to its position on Day Three. The following year saw another name change, to the Hampton Court Stakes.
Finally, in 2011 as celebration of the 300th meeting of Royal Ascot, the name was altered once more to become the Tercentenary Stakes.
The Tercentenary Stakes has been won four times by the favourite since becoming part of the Royal Ascot event in 2002, including last year’s victor Time Test.
Popular Italian jockey Frankie Dettori pulled off a spectacular race on Time Test, denying none other than the Queen’s horse Peacock victory.
Two jockeys have managed to achieve three victories each in this race. Steve Cauthen was victorious in 1987 (Russian Steppe), 1989 (Spritsail) and 1990 (Middle Kingdom), and Richard Hills took the prize in 1997 (Falak), 2000 (Port Vila) and 2007 (Zaham).
The race has never yet been won by a filly, or by a horse carrying a Group race win penalty.
Now a staple of Royal Ascot’s Day Three, the Tercentenary Stakes is another exhilarating race at this historic meeting, with plenty of opportunity for spectators to win big, and for jockeys and trainers to make and break the records.