Royal Ascot Betting Tips – 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st & 22nd June 2019

Ascot Racecourse Parade Ring

Image: RomanM82, Wikimedia Commons

It’s easy to get carried away when you visit Royal Ascot. This is the premier flat racing meeting in the world where the food and drink is plentiful, the worlds of fashion and high society combine and each of the five days provides punters with six world class races to get their teeth stuck into.

You don’t have to visit Royal Ascot to get involved in all the excitement it provides. People thousands of miles away from the Berkshire course will follow along with the action and try to make the most of the betting opportunities Royal Ascot provides.

News – Injury Problems Strike at the Wrong Time

Getting a thoroughbred horse to Royal Ascot in tip top shape is a massive undertaking. It is very easy for things not to go to plan and some leading fancies for the meeting have been ruled out of competing. Chasing Dreams is one of those who will miss out, greatly disappointing Godolphin who had high hopes of her chances in the Queen Mary Stakes. There was also heartbreak for Sheila Lavery as her leading light for Royal Ascot, Lady Kaya, suffered a fatal injury whilst training at the Curragh.

Weather

The organisers of Royal Ascot are delighted that the meeting did not take place one week earlier. Some very heavy rain the area has mercifully given way to more settled weather which looks set to remain even if the odd shower could break out on Wednesday and Thursday. The rain has already had its impact though with softer than usual ground expected.

Ascot 2019 Weather Forecast

Forecast via Met Office

Day One – Suitably High Class Opening Day in Prospect

There is no warm up to the action at Royal Ascot. It begins with Group 1 race after which three more contests at either Group 1 or 2 follow. Punters have had some success in the opening four races in recent years with few shocks recorded but the competition across day one is very high so no horse has what you’d describe as a penalty kick.

2:30 Queen Anne Stakes

Group 1, 1m

The Queen Anne Stakes is not only an incredibly strong race which with to start Royal Ascot, it is sometimes judged to have the strongest field of any race at the meeting. That may not quite be the case this year but there are no shortage of high class horses in with a shot of winning what is a mile long race of the very highest calibre.

Those who competed well in the Guineas over the previous season tend to go well in this contest for older horses and Barney Roy may continue that trend even if he is a five-year-old. Godolphin retired Barney Roy to stud after his three-year-old campaign but that didn’t work out so he’s been put back into training with impressive results. It took this former Royal Ascot winner just two races to score at Listed level and hopes are high that he can recapture his former magic to win the Queen Anne Stakes at 6/1 with Coral.

3:05 Coventry Stakes

Group 2, 6f

The Coventry Stakes is the biggest race in the careers of all the two-year-olds in the field for Tuesday’s second race. That’s especially true of Arizona who is the clear favourite with the bookies following a dominant win at the Curragh last time out. The market tends to provide a strong insight into this contest so the Ballydoyle team will be feeling the pressure but Arizona does look to be the classiest option in the race so big wins are surely in his future.

Many punters will be happy enough to back the favourite at a general price of 7/2. That’s a fair price but it isn’t quite as tempting as the 10/1 that BetVictor are offering on Sunday Sovereign. Paddy Twomey’s colt got the better of Arizona when they met at the Curragh in May and he’s since proven his pace again by winning over 5f. If he goes to post in the Coventry Stakes it will largely be due to his ability to contend with softer ground which makes him very tempting even if many will back him each way rather than on the nose.

3:40 King’s Stand Stakes

Group 1, 5f

There’s a chance for some of the best sprinters in racing to take centre stage with the King’s Stand Stakes. No race at Royal Ascot is faster than this 5f contest which is over inside a minute. With just one three-year-old winner in the last 10 years, this is not a race for inexperienced types and there is plenty of experience towards the top of the betting for Tuesday’s renewal.

Battaash has been the favourite in the ante post betting for some time and there is no reason for his backers to start deserting him now. The five-year-old underwent wind surgery over the winter break which Charle Hills credits for his new calmer demeanour. He didn’t waste any energy on the way to the start in the Temple Stakes which he won well and he has previous winning form on softer ground so is the worthiest of favourites.

4:20 St James’s Palace Stakes

Group 1, 1m

The St James’s Palace Stakes is often framed in terms of the rivalries between two or more horses. The leading contenders from the other big three-year-old races, including the two Guineas, often lock horns again in the St James’s Palace Stakes and there are any number of engaging storylines for Tuesday’s third Group 1.

The key battle is set to be between Phoenix Of Spain (13/8 with Betfair) and Too Darn Hot (5/2 with Ladbrokes) who finished first and second respectively in their last meeting at the 2000 Irish Guineas. They weren’t actually supposed to be the main two at the Curragh with Magna Grecia supposed to compete with Too Darn Hot but Phoenix Of Spain proved to be the strongest colt in the race by some distance. That should be the case again at Royal Ascot but look for a very strong performance from Shaman who can keep improving and push the favourites hard at 10/1 with Ladbrokes.

Day Two – Is Wednesday This Year’s Highest Quality Day of Racing?

The Royal Ascot organisers do their best to spread the best races of the meeting across the five days of action but sometimes the strength of certain fields means that one day stands out. Wednesday is shaping up to be that day at Royal Ascot 2019 with three especially top class contests to get very excited about.

2:30 Queen Mary Stakes

Group 2, 5f

The Queen Mary Stakes is run over the minimum distance of 5f but it’s not a race just for out and out sprinters. Indeed, many winners of this Group 2 have kicked on to have success at significantly longer distances which adds weight to the idea that it actually takes a fair amount of stamina to win the Queen Mary. That should very much be proven true this year with soft ground and a field who are likely to go off at a challenging pace.

Good Vibes is one of those in the field who has relatives who ran well over 1m which suggests she’ll have enough stamina to cope with the expected stiff pace. She certainly showed real class when winning the principle warm up for the Queen Mary at York suggesting that she has a genuine chance of Royal Ascot success at 8/1 with Betfred.

3:05 Queen’s Vase

Group 2, 1m6f

The Queen’s Vase is a chance for horses with hopes of winning the St Leger to prove their ability to cope with 1m6f. The trip was reduced from 2m in 2017 with the hope of increasing the number of three-year-olds who would be sent to compete and it seems to have had the desired effect. No favourite has won since the reduction in distance which isn’t great news for connections of Western Australia.

Aidan O’Brien has many reasons to be confident about the favourite’s chances but punters will be looking for more value and Dashing Willoughby could fit the bill nicely. He’ll have to reverse the form with Norway from the Chester Vase but he’s already beaten horses who got the better of him previously and there is more improvement in him. Andrew Balding is confident that longer trips will bring out the best in Dashing WIlloughby who is available at 14/1 with BetVictor.

3:40 Prince of Wales’s Stakes

Group 1, 1m2f

The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes is shaping up to be the best race of this year’s Royal Ascot. How could the race possibly fail to live up to the billing given the calibre of those towards the top of the betting? Sea Of Class, Magical, Walgeist, Masar, Crystal Ocean – they’ve all attracted support from punters and it’s pretty easy to make a case for any of the principles.

Crystal Ocean is particularly appealing at 9/2 with Betfred. Sir Michael Stoute did some great work to improve his charge during last season and he looks to have come on even more as a five-year-old. He’s won both starts so far this campaign both of which came at Group 3 level. Crystal Ocean also won at last year’s Royal Ascot so won’t be concerned about the crowds and noise.

Day Three – Gold Cup Takes Top Billing

The Ascot Gold Cup is the undoubted pick of the action on Day Three of Royal Ascot. It sees the very best flat racing stayers compete over a monster trip of two and a half miles but, as ever with this meeting, the day includes a great variety of races and competitors.

3:40 Ribblesdale Stakes

Group 2, 1m4f

The Ribblesdale Stakes is the biggest contest for three-year-old fillies who excel over middle distances. As you would expect from a Group 2, it doesn’t always include the strongest members of the Classic generation but many of those who have previously missed out at the very top level have used the Ribblesdale as a stepping stone back to Group 1s.

Manuela De Vega is one of those who wasn’t quite able to hack it against the highest level of competition. Ralph Beckett hoped that his filly had a realistic chance of winning the Oaks but her starting price at Epsom of 16/1 showed that she wasn’t exactly backed off the boards by punters. She actually ran very well given her poor draw and difficulties encountered in running and with room for improvement can come on to win the Ribblesdale at 7/1 with Betfair.

4:20 Ascot Gold Cup

Group 1, 2m4f

The Ascot Gold Cup is one of the jewels in the crown of the Royal Ascot meeting. It’s arguably the biggest staying race of the entire season and the best stayers are always targeted at this 2m4f Group 1. There is no question that the best stayer currently is last year’s winner of the Gold Cup, Stradivarius. He claimed the Stayers’ Million last year with a clean sweep of the biggest long distance races and got his chances of doing so again off to the perfect start with a battling win in the Yorkshire Cup. It’s all systems go for yet more Royal Ascot success and anything other than a win for the favourite at 11/8 with Coral would be a surprise.

One of the most interesting competitors to Stradivarius is Aidan O’Brien’s Kew Gardens. He is a very versatile horse who may just have finally settled on a niche in the staying division and last year’s St Leger winner has an outside chance at odds of 6/1 with Ladbrokes.

Day Four – Three-Year-Olds to Shine

Friday at Royal Ascot is all about the three-year-olds. After the juveniles kick things off with the Albany Stakes there are three high class contests of members of the Classic generation. The King Edward II Stakes, Commonwealth Cup and Coronation Stakes are three very different races but they’ll all feature some star three-year-olds and are very exciting betting heats.

3:05 King Edward VII Stakes

Group 2, 1m4f

That the King Edward VII Stakes is still known by many racing fans as the Ascot Derby should tell you a lot about the nature of this race. It’s run over the same 1m4f trip as the Epsom Derby and although it is a Group 2 the King Edward often attracts many of the leading contenders from the second colts Classic. That’s the case this year with Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck set to come up against many of those he beat just over three weeks ago.

Japan is being well backed to reverse the form from Epsom and he definitely has a chance but the value is surely on Broome at 5/1 with Ladbrokes. He didn’t quite get the long lead up to the line that he seems to need to finish strongly and may well get even better over longer trips. Many judges believe that he could be good enough to kick on and have the strongest record of all those in the 2019 Derby and he’ll likely enjoy the extra cut in the ground that may persist on Friday so he’s the one to challenge the favourites.

3:40 Commonwealth Cup

Group 1, 6f

The Commonwealth Cup was only added to the Royal Ascot schedule in 2015 and this sprint for three-year-olds was an instant hit. The idea was that it was too big an ask for the leading sprinters to compete against their elders at this stage of their careers and the Commonwealth Cup has certainly provided some thrilling finishes in its four renewals.

Ten Sovereigns (7/4 with Coral) and Calyx (4/1 with BetVictor) both head to Royal Ascot on the back of disappointing defeats when favourites last time out and they each have the pace to get the job done in the Commonwealth Cup. This is a race that has sprung a couple of surprises though and the chances of Khaadem making the required improvements to land a fairly big win at 8/1 with BetVictor should be respected.

4:20 Coronation Stakes

Group 1, 1m

The Coronation Stakes is the biggest stage for three-year-old fillies at Royal Ascot. Class very much told in the last two renewals with Winter and then Alpha Centauri justifying their favouritism to win and Hermosa is bidding to follow in their footsteps. Aidan O’Brien’s filly won the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on her first appearance of the season before winning the Irish equivalent at the Curragh by four lengths.

It’s not 100% confirmed that Hermosa will run in the Coronation Stakes. If she does, she has every chance of yet another big win. If she’s not there, the chances of Pretty Pollyanna will be better than her current price of 8/1 with bet365 suggests. Even in the event of the favourite running, Pretty Pollyanna has a very good chance of a place with a similarly strong performance to that which saw her finish second in the Irish 1000 Guineas.

Day Five – Top Class Send Off

Racing fans with even the slightest hint of being jaded as we get to the final day of Royal Ascot are quickly shaken out of their funk on Saturday. The fifth day includes a string of competitive races with the highest calibre horses competing in the Hardwicke Stakes and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

3:40 Hardwicke Stakes

Group 2, 1m4f

So much of Royal Ascot concerns up and coming horses who are looking to run very well en route to even greater success in the coming years. That is true even for some of those competing in the Hardwicke Stakes which is open to horses aged four and older. The Group 2 has been the stage for several older horses to really blossom and Ghaiyyath is ready to become the latest to do so.

Ghaiyyath did some very good work as a juvenile under the watchful eye of Charlie Appleby but had his chances curtailed by problems which restricted him to just one performance as a three-year-old. He’s run well in two starts in France this season and makes the trip to Ascot on the back of some real positivity so is fairly priced at 4/1 with Coral.

4:20 Diamond Jubilee Stakes

Group 1, 6f

The Diamond Jubilee Stakes has changed in nature since being restricted to horses aged four and older following the introduction of the Commonwealth Cup. It plays an important role in helping to bring Royal Ascot to a close and always promises entertainment with winners priced at 25/1, 20/1 and 14/1 in the last 10 renewals.

The Tin Man was a fairly short 9/2 when he won this in 2017 and the seven-year-old is still a serious contender this time around at 10/1 with BetVictor. He is perhaps best suited to an each way bet rather than a straight win bet though especially with the chances of Inns Of Court looking so good at 6/1 with bet365. Andre Fabre’s five-year-old has wintered well and returned this season in tip top form. He also has excellent form on soft ground which could come in very handy at this year’s Royal Ascot.

About the Meeting

Ascot Racecourse Grandstand

Photo © Anthony Parkes (cc-by-sa/2.0) (cropped)

Held every June at Ascot Racecourse, Royal Ascot is the number one Flat racing festival anywhere on the planet. Each year the best horses, jockeys and trainers from Britain, Ireland, Europe and even farther afield flock to the Berkshire course for five days of top class and highly lucrative horse racing action.

Each of the thousands of fans who come through the gates every day have their own reasons for attending Royal Ascot. For some it’s the chance to enjoy themselves in the sunshine with their friends, some are attracted by the style, the pomp and the pageantry of Royal Ascot whilst for others it’s a pilgrimage that simply must be completed. Whatever they’re there for, every single fan is guaranteed some world class racing to savour and several opportunities to beat the bookies.

Main Races

There is so much top quality racing at Royal Ascot that it can be a little overwhelming for unseasoned punters. Some races stand out above the rest though so here is the list of the meeting’s very biggest races for those looking only to get involved in the pick of the action.

Queen Anne Stakes

The organisers of these sort of big meeting like to get things going with a bang. Royal Ascot’s bang is provided by the Queen Anne Stakes which is the top target for milers aged four and older. The easiest way to tell the class of this race is by looking at the horses who turn up every year and go on to win this Group 1, mile long race.

Four-year-olds of this class often have room for improvement left in them so whilst previous impressive form is a prerequisite, many recent winners could be considered late bloomers. That said, the majority of Queen Anne Stakes winners since it became a Group 1 in 2003 had already had success at that level. Specifically, running well in a Guineas and/or at the previous year’s Royal Ascot are strong indicators of success.

2018 winner, Accidental Agent, provided the biggest shock of all time in the Queen Anne Stakes. He was largely ignored at 33/1 but a couple of shrewdies commented that his performance in the Lockinge Stakes – a key race in the lead up to the Queen Anne – was impressive. It remains to be seen whether improving horses will have more of a say in years to come or if the tried and tested options at the head of the market will reassert their dominance.

King’s Stand Stakes

The King’s Stand Stakes is about one thing and one thing only – speed. This Group 1 is one of the highlights of the opening day of Royal Ascot and sees the fastest horses aged three-year-old and upwards sprint to the line from 5 furlongs out. It’s a real blink and you’ll miss it affair over the minimum distance which rarely lasts longer than a minute.

Although three-year-olds regularly contend, it’s rare for one of the youngest horses to win. At that age sprinters tend to still be developing so it takes a very special horse (like 2017 winner, Lady Aurelia) to hack the pace at three. From a betting perspective, favourites have a pretty poor record and it isn’t rare to see a winner go off at double figure odds.

The international aspect of Royal Ascot has been very much in evidence in the King’s Stand Stakes. Recent years have seen winners from Australia, Hong Kong and the USA as well as European and Irish victors. That makes it tough for punters to properly assess the form but the key British races to pay an interest to include the Temple Stakes at Haydock and the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket.

St James’s Palace Stakes

Royal Ascot doesn’t host any of the Classics but it always plays host to most the leading contenders from those races. The St James’s Palace Stakes is a good example of this as many of the leading runners from both the British and Irish 2,000 Guineas face off over 1 mile. As that suggests, this Group 1 is open only to three-year-old colts.

The 2018 winner, Without Parole didn’t contend either Guineas races but eight of the 10 winners before him won at either of those, whilst 2017 winner, Barney Roy, finished second at Newmarket. Moreover, Guineas winners finish inside the top three with great regularity.

The strength of the field that always contends the St James’s Palace Stakes means that winners can come from fairly low down in the betting but that is the exception rather than the rule. Favourite backers have only been obliged infrequently in recent years but more often than not the market has it right with the top three in the betting providing most recent winners.

Prince of Wales’s Stakes

The prize fund for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes has swelled significantly to the point it reached £750,000 for the 2018 renewal. That tells you a lot about the importance of this race for older horses. Four-year-olds and older are eligible for this Group 1 which is run over a distance of 1 mile 2 furlongs and has resonance far beyond Berkshire.

The way that the Flat racing season is scheduled in Britain means that the best Irish and French horses tend to have had an earlier crack at a Group 1 over a mile and a quarter than their British-trained counterparts. That is one reason why the Prince of Wales’s Stakes is held in such high regard in European racing.

There is plenty to consider when looking for a Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner. Most recent champions already had Group 1 success under their belts so whilst there are important warm up races at Group 2 and 3 level, making the step up is no mean feat. Stepping up in terms of the trip is not such a worry, whilst history shows us that it takes a very special horse aged six or older to win.

Ascot Gold Cup

The range of different races held over the five days is one of the key strengths of Royal Ascot and there really is something for everyone in an equine sense, as well as off the track. Race goers are treated to everything from 5 furlong sprints to the Ascot Gold Cup which stretches out to 2 miles 4 furlongs. This Group 1 is the number one target for every trainer with a high class stayer and also one of the most popular races among horse racing fans as it produces drama year on year.

Perhaps as a by-product of the regular close finishes, the Ascot Gold Cup is a race that produces heroes. Big Orange, Order Of St George, Yeats, Royal Rebel, Kayf Tara, Drum Taps; the names of previous Gold Cup winners include some bona fide Ascot legends. The lack of elite level staying races means that the leading contenders tend to have faced each other a couple of times before which only adds to the narrative in the lead up.

As so much is known about the best stayers, the winner of the Ascot Gold Cup tends to come from the top three or four places in the betting. Younger winners are increasingly common which, in turn, means that several recent winners were scoring at the 2m4f trip for the first time, although a lack of winning form over 2 miles should be a cause for concern.

Diamond Jubilee Stakes

The Diamond Jubilee Stakes doesn’t quite bring the curtain down on Royal Ascot but it is the final Group 1 of the meeting. This 6 furlong sprint was first run all the way back in 1869 but it’s undergone a serious change in recent years. After the introduction of the Commonwealth Cup – a sprint for three-year-olds only – the Diamond Jubilee Stakes became a race of four-year-olds and above.

There are a few sprints for connections to choose between at Royal Ascot but it usually comes down to a choice between this or the King’s Stand Stakes. The uncertainty in terms of the field, the number of high class performers over shorter trips and the unpredictable nature of sprinting means that there is always some very good value in the ante post betting for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. In terms of starting prices, double figure winners are almost the norm, whilst favourites have a poor strike rate.

The obvious exception to the rule of favourites struggling was Black Caviar, who survived a terrible jockey error to win at 1/6 in 2012. The superstar Australian mare is just one of several international raiders to have won the Diamond Jubilee. At six she was older than most winners since it became a Group 1 in 2002, whilst some UK and Irish winners had also contested big international races such as the Caulfield Cup.

Other Races

Royal Ascot is about much more than the biggest races on the card, although it doesn’t always seem that way given the huge number of those. There is an incredible selection of races to enjoy ranging from Group 1s to handicaps, sprints to 2m4f tests of stamina and from juvenile contests to those for the older contingent. Whatever floats your boat in the world of Flat racing, punters are sure to find top class entertainment from the other big races below.

Coventry Stakes

The Coventry Stakes provides racing fans with a glimpse into the future. It’s the first real chance for the most promising two-year-olds in training to face off against each other and many winners have gone on to have incredibly successful careers.

Just one previous run has been enough for most recent winners of this 6 furlong, Group 2 contest. That, obviously, is not a great amount of recent form to go on but the amount of information in terms of breeding and performances at home is usually enough for the bookies to call the Coventry Stakes well as winners tend to come from the top two in the market.

Duke of Cambridge Stakes

The Duke of Cambridge Stakes is a Group 2 race for fillies and mares held over a straight mile. Four is the minimum age for entrants and it’s the younger cohort who have had the better of things since the race was introduced relatively recently, in 2004.

There have been winners aged five and six but each of them was a top class mare. In fact, it is vital to back horses who have already claimed a Group level race with most winners achieving that feat over a mile. The other thing to keep an eye on is the Group 1 penalty that applies to winners at the top level after August 31 of the year before.

Queen Mary Stakes

The Queen Mary Stakes is a chance for two-year-old fillies to claim a Group 2 win early on in their career. It’s run over the minimum distance of 5 furlongs but the stiff pace set by these keen fillies often means that many of those who go off early find that their race is run before the kick for home.

Obviously, a certain amount of pace is needed to win the Queen Mary but it’s no coincidence that most winners since it was introduced in 1978 had at least a degree of stamina in their breeding. The winners list also paints a picture of the international nature of this race with the American trainer and sprint king Wesley Ward, having a particularly impressive record.

Norfolk Stakes

Day three at Royal Ascot begins with the Norfolk Stakes, another high class contest for juveniles. Like the Queen Mary Stakes, this is also run over 5 furlongs but is open to both fillies and colts. Although some winners have kicked on to have success at the very top level, for whatever reason, the Norfolk Stakes does have a habit of producing winners who fade into obscurity.

Whatever the future holds for the winner, more often than not they’ve already done enough to come to the attention of the bookies as longer odds victors are far from the norm. Don’t worry about a lack of experience as one win (and sometimes just one performance) has been enough for many.

Ribblesdale Stakes

The Oaks is the obvious race to look at when assessing the chances of the contenders in the Ribblesdale Stakes. Open to fillies from the Classic generation and run over 1 mile 4 furlongs the Ribblesdale is arguably a more interesting race because it is a Group 2 rather than a Group 1.

There are bigger targets for the best three-year-old fillies so the Ribblesdale offers a shot at redemption for those who failed at the top level and a chance for those who are still improving to show how good they are. One thing to note from recent winners is the impressive record of Irish-trained horses.

King Edward VII Stakes

Many of the races at Royal Ascot have parallels with the Classics but few are as close to each other as the King Edward VII Stakes and the Derby. This Group 2 is still known as the Ascot Derby and, like its more famous equivalent at Epsom, is run over 1 mile 4 furlongs. There are only three weeks between the two races but that doesn’t stop many of the leading contenders from Epsom having a crack at the King Edward.

Even with such a good amount of recent form to go on this is not typically a great race for punters as favourites have a poor record. The number of winners who came from handicaps rather than going down the Derby or established trial routes makes the King Edward even trickier to predict.

Commonwealth Cup

As alluded to earlier, the Commonwealth Cup was only introduced into the Royal Ascot schedule in 2015 as part of a shake up of the European sprinting division. The idea was to give three-year-olds the chance to contest a Group 1 against each other rather than being thrown into the pool against their elders at this early stage of their career. It’s fair to say that connections of the leading young sprinters have enjoyed the changes as some truly top class sprinters have claimed this race.

It will be a while before punters have enough data to form a proper opinion on the trends. The picture has been further muddied by a mixture of winners at odds-on and double figures odds against.

Coronation Stakes

Just like the St James’s Palace Stakes, punters take a long hard look at the Guineas form when picking their bets for the Coronation Stakes. This is the main target for trainers of three-year-old fillies at Royal Ascot and, fittingly, has been won by some of the very best milers in the history in racing.

This Group 1, 1 mile contest is far too good for horses to win having shown little previous form at the top level. As well as the various 1000 Guineas races it’s well worth taking a look at the juvenile form of the leading contenders in the betting.

Hardwicke Stakes

Connections of the very best horses often have a tough decision to make with their biggest stars. Do they keep them in training or retire them to stud? That is not a worry shared by winning connections of the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes.

This 1 mile 4 furlong contest may be open to four-year-olds and older but it is viewed as a springboard for future success. It’s a vitally important race for late bloomers who find their best stuff once they’ve fully matured. Therefore, many winners had failed in the biggest three-year-old races, whilst the view that it is a shot at redemption is borne out by the number of four-year-old winners recently.

Wokingham Stakes

Handicaps play an important part in the make up of Royal Ascot and the Wokingham Stakes is one of the best of the lot. It’s tough to imagine that so much can happen over just 6 furlongs but the 30 odd horses that take part in the Wokingham mean it is a very tactical race, even if it has the appearance of a cavalry charge!

Many punters will pay close attention to the draw but it’s far from the deciding factor in this race. Rather, it pays to focus on horses carrying between 8st 12lb to 9st 3lb and who are aged either four or five, with strong trends a great help in narrowing the market down at least a little.

History

The history of Royal Ascot begins with Queen Anne in 1711. Legend has it that she spotted a patch of land in the Ascot area that was perfect for “horses to gallop at full stretch” and the first race, Her Majesty’s Plate, was run soon after. The racing has changed significantly from that first contest – back then it involved three separate heats of four miles each! – but the popularity of racing at Ascot has remained constant.

The foundations of the meeting that we now know as Royal Ascot were laid in 1807 with the inaugural running of the Ascot Gold Cup. That was also the year that the course really started to take shape as an arena befitting the standard of racing on show, although it wasn’t until 1813 that an act was passed in Parliament to ensure the public would be able to watch racing at Ascot for years to come.

Racing has continued to evolve and grow at Royal Ascot and the facilities at the course have improved alongside that growth. The meeting is one of the richest and best-attended in Europe, attracting real stars both on and off the track.

Whilst the crowd is increasingly egalitarian, Royal Ascot remains a key event within the British social calendar and you can expect to hear plenty of champagne corks popping over the five days. The pageantry of the British royal family remains an important part of Royal Ascot too and the Queen is still a regular visitor to the festival.