Royal Ascot is just days away and a tremendous amount of excitement is building. This is the most glamorous and prestigious flat meeting of the season.View Today’s Betting Markets Now!
Next week, a corner of Berkshire will be transformed into a riot of colour as many of the world’s most stylish men and women descend upon this famous racecourse.
Royal Ascot, which is visited by the British Royal Family on each of the 5 days, is a place to see and be seen. It’s the horses that always end up stealing the show, however. Royal Ascot attracts the very-best thoroughbreds from all over the globe.
The races are run at a breathtaking pace, with the fastest runners capable of speeds in excess of 50mph. There is no sound quite like the thunder of hooves, as a pack of world-class horses pass the Ascot stands
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There are 30 brilliant races, for us all to look-forward to this year. With understanding of nutritional requirements and training-methods continuing to improve, it is highly-likely that we will witness several record-breaking runs from this year’s Royal Ascot race winners.
Let’s take a look at the performances they will have to beat. Please note that times recorded in 2005, when the Festival was temporarily relocated to York, have not been considered.
The Coventry Stakes
Henrythenavigator holds the record, recording a time of 1:12.46 in 2007.
Aidan O’Brien’s Kingmambo-sired horse went on to enjoy a terrific Classic campaign, winning the 2000 Guineas, the Irish 2,000 Guineas, the St. James’s Palace Stakes and the Sussex Stakes.
Henrythenavigator retired to stud in 2009 and has already covered the likes of Vertigineux, Rags To Riches, Peeping Fawn and Mien.
Queen Anne Stakes
The record is held by a horse that contested this 1m race, as a 5-year-old (also in 2007).
Ramonti, a French bay bred by Scuderia Siba, clocked just 1:37.21 when beating Sir Michael Stoute’s Jeremy.
Ramonti was eventually rated 126 by Timeform, following further successes in the Sussex Stakes, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the Hong Kong Cup.
The Ascot Stakes
Reg Akehurst’s Southern Power‘s winning time was 4:20.20 (1996) and no horse has proved to be as quick.
French jockey, Olivier Peslier, rode the 5-year-old to victory.
The Charles Byrnes-trained Domination came closest to breaking Southern Power’s record, clocking 4:20.30 in 2014 with Fran Berry in the saddle (2014).
The King’s Stand Stakes
Miss Andretti put in a scintillating performance, to win the 2007 renewal in just 0:57.44!
This record is likely to stand for some time, as Sole Power’s 2013 victory (0.58.88) is the next best.
The Australian mare chalked up 4 G1 wins, in her amazing 6-year-old season. Various syndicates offered up to $10 million for the horse, but were all turned away by David Mueller!
The Windsor Castle Stakes
The record for this 5f sprint was smashed by Wesley Ward’s Hootenanny, in 2014.
0.72 seconds faster than the previous best, by Jamie Osborne’s Drawnfromthepast, Hootenanny’s 0:59.05 will really take some beating.
The American bay colt also won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, although his 3-year-old campaign failed to hit similar heights.
The St. James’s Palace Stakes
This is another record held by Henrythenavigator, who won the 2008 renewal in 1:38.70.
With Johnny Murtagh on-board, he was initially held-up towards the rear of the field. Aidan O’Brien’s charge then switched to the left and took the lead about a furlong from home.
His nearest challenger was John Gosden’s Raven’s Past, although the result was never really in doubt. Nor was it a surprise, as the brown colt started the race as a 4/7f.
The Sandringham Handicap
Good flat handicap races for fillies are somewhat thin on the ground, so the Sandringham always attracts plenty of interest.
The record time is held by a horse called Duntle, who finished in 1:37.90 (2012).
Sired by Danehill Dancer, she also won the Desmond Stakes, the Amethyst Stakes and the Duke of Cambridge Stakes.
Duntle was trained by David Wachman.
The Royal Hunt Cup
What is remarkable about the winning time of Invisible Man, in the 2010 renewal, is that it is even faster than the 1:37.54 clocked by New Seeker (in the 2005 race held at York).
A chestnut gelding, that was trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Frankie Dettori, Invisible Man won in 1:37.16.
Amazingly, the Godolphin horse never managed to win a race again, despite a further 15 outings before he retired!
The Queen Mary Stakes
We’ve yet to see any juvenile break 59 seconds, for the Queen Mary Stakes. Tom Dascombe’s Ceiling Kitty came the closest, recording 0:59.18 in 2012.
Out of Baldovina and sired by Red Clubs, this dark bay filly also won the Marygate Fillies’ Stakes.
However, she was well-held in the Flying Childers Stakes, the Cheveley Park Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint (where she finished last of 5 runners).
Her last race came as a 2-year-old and she sadly died giving birth to one of Camelot’s foals.
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes
For some, the career of The Fugue will always be a case of what might have been, despite the Andrew Lloyd Webber-owned horse being named European Champion Three-Year-Old Filly.
One of the best female thoroughbreds of recent years, never to win a Classic, her 2014 Prince of Wales’s Stakes performance was surely her best.
She smashed the record, in a time of 2:01.90, beating the likes of Treve, Magician, Mukhadram and Dank.
She sustained a bad injury, during the Eclipse Stakes, which led to her immediate retirement.
The Jersey Stakes
The fastest time was recorded in 2014 (1:24.54), by Dermot Weld’s Mustajeeb.
A winner of the Ardglen Amethyst Stakes and 3rd behind Kingman in the 2000 Guineas, the Hamdan Al Maktoum horse quickly found himself out in front along with Muwaary.
Pat Smullen was first to make a move and quickly got away from Muwaary, winning by a length.
Mustajeeb now stands at the Overbury Stud.
The Duke of Cambridge Stakes
Integral, who has formed a prolific partnership with Ryan Moore, holds the record for this 1m event.
Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, Integral enjoyed only moderate success as a 3-year-old winning the Distaff Stakes and the Atalanta Stakes.
The Cheveley Park Stud-bred bay filly raced just behind the leaders, before quickening impressively from just over a furlong out.
Integral’s winning time was 1:37.09 in 2014. She went on to win the Falmouth Stakes and the Sun Chariot Stakes, in an excellent 4-year-old campaign.
The Ribblesdale Stakes
Pat Eddery’s 1994 victory, on the Barry Hills-trained Bolas was the fastest ever time for this 1m 4f fillies’ race.
Khaled Abdullah very-nearly sold her, following some disappointing performances early in her career.
Bolas clocked 2:28.62, beating the highly-rated Hawajiss. She went on to win the Irish Oaks, at the Curragh.
Her final outing was in the Yorkshire Oaks, where she finished a disappointing 5th behind Only Royale, Dancing Bloom, State Crystal and Milly Ha Ha.
The Britannia Stakes
Some of you may not even have heard of Joanna Morgan, trainer of the 2013 champion Roca Tuma, nor winning-jockey Billy Lee!
Roca Tuma’s winning time of 1:37.52 is the record, for this 3-year-old flat handicap for colts and geldings.
Sired by Footstepsinthesand (who also fathered Chachamaidee, winner of multiple Group encounters) and out of a dam named Lucy Diamonds, Roca Tumu was retired after his Royal Ascot win.
He had previously been victorious in relatively weak races, at both Navan and the Curragh.
The Ascot Gold Cup
The fastest recorded time for the Ascot Gold Cup, which was first run way back in 1807, is 4:16.92.
The horse was called Rite Of Passage. Trained by Dermot Weld and sired by Giant’s Causeway, this chestnut gelding won in 2010 with Pat Smullen in the saddle.
He was a 20/1 outsider, but (following some argy-bargy with Akmal, in-running) he bravely fought-off the challenge made by Age of Aquarius and won by just a neck.
He was named European Champion Stayer in 2010 and won the British Champions Long Distance Cup, in 2012. This final victory followed an incredible 510 days off the track, through injury.
The Norfolk Stakes
Originally known as the New Stakes, this race (for juveniles) was established in 1843. Lester Piggott rode an incredible 9 winners, between 1961 and 1992.
No Nay Never‘s time of 0:58.80, in 2013, is the fastest by some margin. No other horse has beaten 58 seconds and Wesley Ward’s inmate went on to win the Prix Morny and the Woodford Stakes.
Other celebrated winners include Niche, Turtle Island, Superstar Leo, Johannesburg, Dutch Art and Reckless Abandon.
The King George V Stakes
The King George V Stakes is a handicap, over a mile and a half and was only introduced in 1984. Michael Owen’s sadly-departed Brown Panther won in 2011.
Mark Johnston’s Linas Selection holds the record, winning the 2007 renewal in 2:27.24 and carrying 8st 9lb in weight.
Rough Pearl won the inaugural running of this race, in the very-impressive time of 2:28.30.
The Tercentenary Stakes
The 1m 2f Tercentenary Stakes (3-year-olds) is another recent addition to Royal Ascot’s long list of exciting yearly encounters. It was launched in 1986 (as the Churchill Stakes – the race was over 1m 4f until 2000) and its first winner is arguably the most famous.
Sheikh Mohammed’s Sadeem went on to collect the spoils in the Sagaro Stakes, the Ascot Gold Cup, the Goodwood Cup, the Prix Gladiateur and the Henry II Stakes.
Roger Charlton’s Time Test destroyed the record, in 2015, recording 2:03.05. This was a full second faster than Burning Sun, the horse that had held the record since 2002.
Time Test won on his 2016 reappearance, beating Western Hymn to take the Brigadier Gerard Stakes and a big 4-year-old campaign beckons.
The Coronation Stakes
Introduced in 1840, the Coronation Stakes (3-year-old fillies) commemorates the crowning of Queen Victoria. Sir Gordon Richards partnered Belle Of All, who had just won the 1,000 Guineas a few weeks earlier.
Winning times are only available since 1980, although it is highly-unlikely that any horse finished quicker than Barry Hills’ Ghanaati in 2009 (1:38.32).
The 2009 renewal was a rough old affair and plenty of runners encountered trouble in running. Ghanaati was also bumped, making her record time even more impressive.
Like Belle Of All, Ghanaati also arrived at Ascot as a 1,000 Guineas winner and there have been many other fillies who have won both of these prestigious races.
The Queen’s Vase
This 2-mile race for stayers was established in 1838 and it’s open to runners aged 3 and up. Recent winners include Leading Light and Estimate, although the record is held by a horse that is far-less well-known.
Weld was trained by William Jarvis and ridden in 1989 by Bruce Raymond. In an astonishing performance, Weld smashed the previous-best time clocking 3:20.54. No other horse has got close and the 2015 winner (Aloft) won in 3:28.40!
Aidan O’Brien has dominated the Queen’s Vase, in recent years, winning 4 of the last 9 renewals. Ryan Moore has ridden 3 of the last 8 winners.
The Buckingham Palace Stakes
Inaugurated in 2002, the Buckingham Palace Stakes is a 7f handicap, for runners aged 3 and over. It was introduced to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
The race has yet to really find its feet, having produced no especially notable winners. In truth, the Buckingham Palace Stakes is little more than a filler contest created out of necessity when the Festival became a 5-day affair.
The race record is held by John Dunlop’s Jedburgh. Mick Kinane was on-board the 4-year-old who finished in 1:22.53. No other horse has finished within 3 seconds of that time!
The Albany Stakes
The Albany Stakes is also relatively young, although it carries a great deal more prestige. It was first won by David Elsworth’s Duty Paid, in 2002.
It’s a contest for 2-year-old fillies, over 6f. Illuminate recorded a time of 1:13.20 ,in 2015, with Richard Hughes piloting Richard Hannon’s charge. In doing so, the Zoffany filly shaved half a second off the previous record.
Jamie Spencer has ridden 4 of the 14 previous winners. 2 of those were trained by Mick Channon who has (in total) 3 victories to his name.
The King Edward VII Stakes
The King Edward VII Stakes was known as the Ascot Derby, until 1926. It’s for 3-year-old colts and geldings and run over a mile and a half.
Some superb thoroughbreds have triumphed in this race, over the last 20 years. They include Eagle Top, Nathaniel, Monterosso, Storming Home, Mutafaweq and Royal Anthem. The great Solario is also a previous winner.
The record is held by the aptly-named Father Time. Sir Henry Cecil’s inmate was ridden by Eddie Ahern and clocked 2:27:37.
The Wolferton Handicap
The Wolferton Handicap was another new race that was introduced in 2001. It’s over 1m 2f and horses must be at least 4 years of age.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Perfect Stride won in 2:03.24, in 2009, with Ryan Moore in the saddle. Imperial Stride also won for Sir Michael, 4 years earlier.
The race is simply named after a local village and was originally known as the Wolferton Rated Stakes. John Gosden has already won it 3 times.
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes is amongst the most-anticipated races of the entire Royal Ascot Festival. It’s a 6f sprint for horses aged 4 and up.
Several horses have managed to win in under 1:13.00, including Danehill, Shalford, So Factual, Starspangledbanner, Slade Power and the 2015 champion Undrafted.
The Australian, Choisir, recorded the fastest-ever time, 1:12.23 in 2003. Very few thoroughbreds are successful in both hemispheres, just as very few champion juveniles become champion older horses. Paul Perry’s inmate became one of them.
The Chesham Stakes
A 7f encounter for juveniles, the Chesham Stakes was originally raced over the much-sharper 5f trip. It’s named after the the 3rd Baron Chesham, who was the last Master of the Buckhounds.
The race has quite unusual entry requirements and all runners must have been sired by a 1m 2f+ winner. Paul Cole loves this race and has won it on 4 occasions, most-recently with Berkshire in 2013.
Suits You became the first winner to break 1:27.00, last season, winning in 1:26.93. Christian Demuro took the reins of Eoghan O’Neill’s runner and Ballydoyle was beaten by a short-head.
The Queen Alexandra Stakes
What’s most interesting about this 2m 5f stayers contest is that it often features horses that have already raced at Royal Ascot, earlier that week!
The last horse to win the Queen Alexandra, having already notched at the Festival, was Simenon in 2012.
Oriental Fox was yet another 2015 record-breaker, winning in 4:45.67 with Joe Fanning on-board Mark Johnstone’s lag.
An amazing horse, by the name of Brown Jack, won the race in 6 consecutive seasons between 1929 and 1934! The gelding also won the Champion Hurdle, the Goodwood Cup, the Doncaster Cup, the Chester Cup and the Ebor. In 1935, a locomotive was named, in his honour.
The Wokingham Stakes
Pointers, a horse owned by the then Duke of York, won the the first-ever Wokingham Stakes back in 1813.
It’s a 6f handicap race and Johnny Murtagh rode 3 winners, between 2001 and 2011.The contest is open to horses aged 3 and up.
Fayr Jag and Ratio broke the record, when dead-heating in 2003, but were both usurped in 2014 by Richard Fahey’s Baccarat who clocked 1:12.09.
The Hardwicke Stakes
The Hardwicke Stakes has been won by some brilliant horses, over the last few years, including Telescope, Sea Moon and Harbinger.
All 3 were trained by Sir Michael Stoute, for whom Snow Sky also landed the spoils last season. The trainer adores this encounter and his charges have won it on no less than 9 occasions.
The race is over 1m 4f and horses must be at least 4 years of age. No horse has got close to the record set by Saeed bin Suroor’s Doyen, in 2004 (2:26.53).
The Duke of Edinburgh Stakes
Originally known as the Bessborough Stakes (although today’s race bears little resemblance, as it was a 5f race for juveniles back then), the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes is a 1m 4f contest for runners aged 3 and up.
The fastest time recorded was set by a 25/1 outsider, back in 1992. Ian Balding’s Spinning finished in 2:27.82 and no other horse got under 2:28.00.
Ryan Moore has had plenty of success, in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes, winning 3 of the last 8 renewals.
Get Ready For The Greatest Show On Earth!
This year’s Royal Ascot promises to be amongst the best ever. Horses set to race include Galileo Gold, Air Vice Marshall, A Shin Hikari, Found, Acapulco, Minding, Ballydoyle, Magical Memory and Undrafted.
Connections of all will be hoping their horse can follow in the footsteps of some of the greatest in the history of racing. For many owners, a win at Royal Ascot surpasses all others. Who will be this year’s heroes and are we going to have to rewrite the record-books, yet again?
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