The ever exciting Royal Ascot is underway. This prestigious event dates back to the early 1700s and with its royal connections and top racing action, it’s a date in the racing calendar that’s not to be missed. Whether on course enjoying the racing and royal ascot hospitality, or viewing from the comfort of your home, there’s plenty of betting opportunities and high points.
Royal Ascot is definitely the most valuable race meeting in Britain, with prize money of over £7.3 million (2018), and arguably the most famous race meeting in the world. The five-day festival features 30 races, including 18 Group races, eight of which are top flight, or Group One, contests and form part of the QIPCO British Champions Series. Let’s cast an eye on some of the highlights so far!
Tuesday, June 19
2.30 Queen Anne Stakes
Named after Queen Anne, who founded Ascot racecourse in 1711, the Queen Anne Stakes is run over a straight mile. The 2018 renewal produced a major shock, with Accidental Agent, at 33/1, beating fellow outsider Lord Glitters, at 20/1, in a driving finish. Interestingly, the winner was the second lowest rated horse in the race, and the runner-up the lowest, according to the BHA handicapper.
3.40 King’s Stand Stakes
The first Group One sprint of the week, the King’s Stand Stakes, has become a popular target for overseas contenders in recent years and, once again, featured runners from France, Ireland and North America. However, Blue Point, trained by Charlie Appleby in Newmarket, took the spoils, staying on to beat Battaash convincingly by 1¾ lengths.
4.20 St. James’s Palace Stakes
The St. James’s Palace Stakes often brings together the winners of the 2,000 Guineas in Britain and Ireland but, while the first three from the Irish 2,000 Guineas did battle once again in 2018, the foremost aspirant from the Newmarket Classic was the second, Tip Two Win. In any event, it was Gustav Klimt, sixth at Newmarket and third at the Curragh, who fared best of the quartet, but despite closing on the winner, Without Parole, towards the finish, was never getting there and eventually went down by half a length.
Wednesday, June 20
4.20 Prince of Wales’s Stakes
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes, run over 1 mile 2 furlongs, was supposed to be a “shoo in” for Cracksman, who previously been beaten just twice – in the Derby and the Irish equivalent – in his nine-race career. However, John Gosden’s 4-year-old, who was sent off at 2/5, was never travelling and could only finish second, beaten 2¼ lengths, behind Poet’s Word.
Thursday, June 21
4.20 Gold Cup
The longest Group One race run in Britain, at 2 miles 4 furlongs, the Gold Cup was won, narrowly, by Stradivarius, trained by John Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori. The 7/4 joint favourite, who’d won the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot in 2017, was reversing previous form with the other joint favourite, Order Of St. George, on their running in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup, over 2 miles, at Ascot the previous October.