Royal Ascot takes place later this month, and the five-day festival is Britain’s most valuable and prestigious meeting. Each day begins with the royal procession, in which Queen Elizabeth II, and other members of the royal family, arrive. Not only that, but there are 19 Group races, with eight of these being within Group 1 – so plenty of high-quality racing action awaits. As fans and punters alike gear up to the meeting, checking out the current Royal Ascot odds, let’s take a look at the feature races in more detail.
Tuesday: King’s Stand Stakes
On the opening day of the meeting, the King’s Stand Stakes is the highlight race. Inaugurated by chance in 1860, after bad weather had affected much of the course, and the Royal Stand Plate wasn’t able to be run over its usual distance of 2 miles, the race has always taken place over five furlongs.
Over the years, many horses have won the race twice, most recently Blue Point winning back-to-back races in 2018-19. Battaash won last year’s King’s Stand Stakes, and the Charles Hill-trained seven-year-old is the favourite for 2021, and will be looking to add his name to the record books.
Wednesday: Prince of Wales’ Stakes
Established in 1862, and named after the Prince of Wales at that time, the future King Edward VII, the Group 1 race is the highlight on day two of the meeting. The race is open to horses aged four and above, and is run over a slightly longer distance of one mile, one furlong and 212 yards. It became a Group 1 race in the year 2000.
In the history of the Prince of Wales’ Stakes, three horses have won the race multiple times – back-to-back – Connaught, Mtoto and Muhtarram. The 5/1 chance, Lord North won last year’s race, and the Irish-bred gelding is the favourite again – ahead of Aidan O’Brien’s highly-fancied Love.
Thursday: Ascot Gold Cup
Not to be confused with its namesake, raced at Cheltenham, the Ascot Gold Cup is the most prestigious race for stayers. Run over a distance of two miles, three furlongs and 210 yards, the event was established in 1807 – and is the opening leg of the Stayers’ Triple Crown, followed by the Goodwood Cup, and Doncaster Cup.
The last horse to win the Stayers’ Triple Crown was Stradivarius in 2019, and the John Gosden-trained horse has won the last three editions of the Gold Cup. Now seven years old, Stradivarius will look to emulate the feat of Yeats and make history by winning the Ascot feature race four times. He is, of course, the leading favourite, going into the meeting.
Friday: Commonwealth Cup
One of the newer additions to Royal Ascot, the Commonwealth Cup was introduced in 2015, and initially, it was the only Group 1 flat race in Great Britain exclusively for three-year-olds that allowed geldings to compete. However, this wasn’t the case in 2020, as the colt Golden Horde won on his first outing as a three-year-old.
This year the favourite is Campanelle. The filly, trained by Wesley A Ward, won her first three races, before finishing fourth in her last outing – the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, raced in the USA.
Saturday: Diamond Jubilee Stakes
Inaugurated in 1868, the Diamond Jubilee Stakes has overgone a number of name changes, as well as going up and down the grading system. It has been a Group 1 race since 2002, when it was renamed to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II – and was given its current title in 2012 in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee.
Hello Youmzain was last year’s winner, at a price of 4/1. This year, all eyes are on Starman. The Ed Walker-trained colt won on his last outing, in the Duke of York Stakes – winning by a neck – but also had a successful season last year, winning in three of his four starts.