Over 300,000 spectators flood into Ascot Racecourse, while millions will be watching the coverage on television glued to the action as it unfolds. We’ll now breakdown all you need to know about the leading races, trainers and horses of the competition.
Royal Ascot Gold Cup
The Ascot Gold Cup is one of the longest running races in the world, having been inaugurated in 1807. It provides the ultimate test of horses over distance on the flat in the 2 miles 3 furlongs and 210 yards of the meet. Competitors over the age of four can compete in the race, with the potential of earning the Gold Cup and £500,000 prize money for their owner.
Aidan O’Brien has dominated the event, winning on seven occasions since his breakthrough with Yeats in 2006. Yeats won four Gold Cups on the bounce – no horse has been more successful than the bay stallion. All eyes will be on the signature event on Thursday.
Queen Anne Stakes
The Queen Anne Stakes kicks off the week on Tuesday as Group One horses compete in the event over a mile. It was established in 1840 and has undergone numerous changes in its history and was promoted to a Group One event in 2003 for horses four years and older.
The race provides one of the largest pots, with the winner taking £367,197. Saeed bin Suroor has trained the most winners in the meet, although the last of those came in 2007. Godolphin horses are the ones to watch – eight winners have come out of their group, including Ribchester, who triumphed in 2017.
Prince of Wales’s Stakes
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes is the most lucrative of all the races at Royal Ascot. It offers a purse of £750,000, with the winner taking away £425,325 in 2018. The pot could be increased for this year’s event, making it one of the most eagerly anticipated meets of the week for owners. It’s a race steeped in history, dating back to 1862.
It was elevated to Group One status in 2000 and is open to horses four years and above. The meet has been wildly competitive in recent years as no trainer has been able to stack up back-to-back triumphs since Bin Suroor when he claimed a third successive win in 2002. Expect all the big hitters to be vying for the crown.
O’Brien will arrive at the event with the expectation of enjoying a big week of winners. He was surprisingly underwhelming last year, winning only four races, although he still finished as the leading trainer. The Irishman will look for a strong start with Le Brivido in the Queen Anne Stakes. It’s an event he has not won since 2013 and at 9/25.50+4504.504.50-0.22 with 888Sport his charge is the leading contender. The same can be said for the Coventry Stakes on day one with Arizona at 5/23.50+2502.502.50-0.40 with Bet365.
Magical will look to continue the run as the favourite in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday, while his hopes will hinge on Kew Gardens at 6/17.00+6006.006.00-0.17 in the Ascot Gold Cup on Thursday with Bet365. Ten Sovereigns had a poor start to the season, but he could be another O’Brien winner on Friday in the Commonwealth Cup. Southern France will round out the week for the Irishman in the Hardwicke Stakes. He has an excellent chance to finish as the leading trainer for the week at odds of 4/71.57-1750.57-1.750.57 with Bet365.
Gosden has the best opportunity to end O’Brien’s reign as the top trainer at Royal Ascot. He enters the week with two outstanding horses that are capable of capturing two of the elite prizes. Stradivarius is going for a repeat crown at the Ascot Gold Cup, which would see him join a select company of horses to achieve the feat. The five-year-old’s dominance on the track is reflected in his 6/42.50+1501.501.50-0.67 odds with Bet365 to claim the Cup as he pursues a seventh win on the bounce over the last year.
Too Darn Hot is the other top-quality competitor that Gosden sends into action. He has been underwhelming thus far, but has an opportunity to etch his place in history at the St James’s Palace Stakes at odds of 9/43.25+2252.252.25-0.44 with 888Sport to claim the win. Lah Ti Dar and Nonchalance are ones to watch later in the week, but it will take a strong effort from Gosden’s yard for him to end the week as the leading trainer at odds of 7/24.50+3503.503.50-0.29 with Bet365.
Moore is O’Brien’s top jockey therefore he will be lined up for all of the Irishman’s elite horses during the week. He emerged last season with five winners and should be on course for another strong showing at the competition.
Le Brivido, Arizona and Magic Wand are the first best hopes for Moore and he will be determined to get off to an imperious start. Competition will come from Frankie Dettori among others, but at odds of 8/151.53-1880.53-1.880.53 with Bet365, he’s the odds-on favourite.
Dettori could be the option to back to lead Ascot in wins as he will carry the torch for Gosden’s leading charges along with a variety of talented horses. He begins his week on the back of Vazapour in the Queen Anne Stakes, who has a good shout as an outsider.
Dettori will take the reins of Too Darn Hot in the St James’s Palace Stakes, where he will try to get a performance out of the horse this term. Crystal Ocean is the leading contender in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, while Stradivarius is the lock for the Ascot Gold Cup. Look out for the Italian to lead the way at odds of 11/43.75+2752.752.75-0.36 with Bet365.