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Royal Ascot 2018: Info, history, race-by-race guide and favourites

Nick Murphy | 18 June 2018

Coral preview the five-day meeting

Royal Ascot is one of the jewels in the British flat racing crown. Now a five-day event, the origins of the Festival date back to 1711 when it was founded by Queen Anne.

This year over 300,000 people will descend upon the Berkshire course to watch some of the world’s best flat racing talent across 30 races from Tuesday 19th June to Saturday 23rd June 2018.

There will be at least one Group 1 contest on every day of the meeting, with runners coming from far and wide. The bulk of the trainers will come from the UK and Ireland. But there will also be representation from as far afield as the United States, Australia and Hong Kong.

Royal Ascot 2018 will also see a 10% increase in prize money from last year. In total, there is over £7.3m on offer at this year’s meeting.

All of the action will be broadcast live on ITV and fronted by Ed Chamberlin, Francesca Cumani, Oli Bell and Matt Chapman.

The Coral News Team will also be providing day-by-day coverage across the meeting, featuring exclusive content from 2016 Champion Jockey, Jim Crowley.

Jim Crowley

Coral ambassador Jim Crowley

Course and history

Located just six miles south of Windsor, Ascot has played host to horse racing for over 300 years. However, it wasn’t until the late 18th century that some of the modern day traditions of Royal Ascot were first established.

At this time, the rule whereby men in the Royal Enclosure must wear hats came into force. This was followed not long after with the implementation of a formal dress code at the event, apparently started by friend of the Prince Regent, Beau Brummel. At this stage Ascot was a four-day meeting.

1807 saw the introduction of the Ascot Gold Cup, followed swiftly by the Act of Enclosure which guaranteed the course’s future. Ladies’ Day was then established in 1823 before a new grandstand was erected in 1839.

Little then changed until 1945, when extra racing was allowed at the course alongside the Royal Ascot meeting. In 1965, its operations were expanded to include National Hunt racing for the very first time.

In more recent times Lester Piggott established himself as the master of Ascot before retiring in 1993. Frankie Dettori famously rode through the card with a magnificent seven winners in September 1996.

Royal Ascot was extended to five days in 2002 in celebration of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. And in 2006, the new Queen Elizabeth II Grandstand was opened at a cost of £1m, which meant the Royal Meeting was staged temporarily at York.

Racegoers pack the main stand at Ascot for the 2016 edition of the Queen’s Vase.

Key runners and riders

There are plenty of big name trainers, owners and celebrities who will descend on Ascot. But it’s the horses that are the stars of the show.

Battaash and Lady Aurelia, in particular, are set to shine on the first day in the King’s Stand Stakes over 5f. Cartier Horse of the Year Cracksman extended his five-race unbeaten run in the Coronation Cup at Epsom last time out. He looks set to go again against Sir Michael Stoute’s Poet’s Word in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.

In the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, super sprinter Harry Angel will be looking to overturn a 0-4 record at Ascot. He’ll face competition from Australian raider Redkirk Warrior.

Aidan O’Brien, John Gosden, Clive Cox, Michael Stoute and Wesley Ward are just some of the trainers that will be vying for the big prizes across the week.

Day One: Tuesday 19th June

2:30pm The Queen Anne Stakes: The opening race on the first day of the Festival. Group 1 contest run over 1m and won last year by the Richard Fahey-trained Ribchester. Ante-post favourites: Rhododendron, Benbatl.  

3:05pm The Coventry Stakes: Group 2 juvenile race where some of the future stars of flat racing could be on show. Run over 6f and exclusively for two-year-olds. Fillies get a 3lb allowance. Ante-post favourites: Sergei Prokofiev, Legends of War.  

3:40pm The King’s Stand Stakes: Fourth leg of the international race series and one for the speedsters over 5f. Regained Group 1 status in 2008 and carries a £283,500 first prize. Ante-post favourites: Lady Aurelia, Battaash.

4:20pm The St James’s Palace Stakes: Third Group 1 of the day and won last year by Richard Hannon and Barney Roy. Run over 7f for three-year-old colts. £283,500 awarded to the winner. Ante-post favourites: Without Parole, Tip Two Win.  

5:00pm The Ascot Stakes: Class 2 handicap contest run over 2m 3f open to horses aged four and above. Willie Mullins has won three of the last six renewals, including last year with Thomas Hobson.

5:35pm The Wolferton Rated Stakes: Listed race for horses without a Group 1 or 2 success since August 2017. Run over 1m 2f and won three times by John Gosden. Last year’s winner came at 25/1.

Lady Aurela

Lady Aurelia ridden by jockey Frankie Dettori winning the Queen Mary Stakes during day two of Royal Ascot 2016, at Ascot Racecourse.

Day Two: Wednesday 20th June  

2:30pm Queen Mary Stakes: Group 2 renewal open to two-year-old fillies. Short sharp 5f sprint won last year by Heartache. Ante-post favourites: Hydrangea, Just Wonderful.

3:05pm Queen’s Vase: 1m 6f contest with a maximum field of 16 runners. O’Brien has won three of the last five runnings, but not with Stradivarius last year (John Gosden). Ante-post favourites: Southern France, Stream of Stars.  

3:40pm Duke of Cambridge Stakes: Introduced to Royal Ascot in 2004 and run over the 1m distance. Third Group 2 race of the day and won last year by trainer Jean-Claude Rouget. Ante-post favourites: Aljazzi, Hydrangea. 

4:20pm The Prince of Wales’s Stakes: 1m 2f Group 1 contest which is the premier race on day two. Part of the British Champions Series and open to thoroughbreds aged four and older. Won last year by Highland Reel. Ante-post favourites: Cracksman, Poet’s Word.  

5:00pm The Royal Hunt Cup: Second handicap contest of the Festival run over 1m. Seven of the last eight winners of this Class 2 have come at double-figure prices (Zheu Feng 25/1 last year). Ante-post favourites: Lord Glitters, Afaak.  

5:35pm The Jersey Stakes: First run in 1849 and now the final race on day two. Has Group 3 status and is run over 7f. 3lb allowances for fillies and penalties for G1, G2 and G3 winners. Favourite Le Brevido won last year for Andre Fabre.

Day Three: Ladies Day – Thursday 21st June  

2:30pm Norfolk Stakes: Ladies Day starts with a bang thanks to the 5f Norfolk Stakes. This Group 2 is open only to two-year-olds and was won last year by O’Brien with Sioux Nation. Ante-post favourites: Konchek, Shang Shang Shang.   

3:05pm Hampton Court Stakes: Initially the Churchill Stakes and then the New Stakes, this 1m 1f contest has been won by Hawkbill and Benbatl in the last two years. Has Group 3 status. Ante-post favourites: Sergei Prokofiev, Legends of War.  

3:40pm Ribblesdale Stakes: 1m 3f Group 2 contest open solely to three-year-old fillies. Popular with Oaks’ runners and won last year by Coronet. Frankie Dettori has ridden the winner six times. Ante-post favourites: Lah Ti Dar, Sun Maiden.

4:20pm Ascot Gold Cup: Run over 2m 3f, this is Britain’s most prestigious stayers’ event, with a purse of £283,550 for the winner. Famously won four times by Yeats from 2006-09. Won last year by Big Orange. Ante-post favourites: Order of St George, Stradivarius.

5:00pm Britannia Stakes: Handicap contest for three-year-old colts and geldings. Same course and distance as Royal Hunt Cup and won last year by David Simcock-trained Bless Him. Jamie Spencer has ridden the last two winners.       

5:35pm King George V Stakes: Second handicap contest of the day run over 1m 3f. Rated as Class 2 and won last year by Kieran Shoemark aboard Atty Persse for Roger Charlton at 7/1.   

Order of St George

Jockey Ryan Moore, on board Order Of St George, wins the 16.20 Gold Cup In Honour of The Queen’s 90th Birthday, during day three of Royal Ascot 2016, at Ascot Racecourse.

Day Four: Friday 22nd June  

2:30pm Albany Stakes: First run in 2003, this 6f sprint was promoted to Group 3 status in 2005. It’s open solely to two-year-old fillies and was claimed last year by the Matthieu Palussiere-trained Different League. Ante-post favourites: Fairyland, Just Wonderful.    

3:05pm King Edward VII Stakes: Impressive Group 2 contest open to three-year-old colts and geldings and raced over 1m 3f. Tends to feature Derby entrants and was won last year by Permian. Ante-post favourites: Mildenberger, Dee Ex Bee.   

3:40pm Commonwealth Cup: Group 1 6f sprint also open to geldings which attracts some of the best sprinters around. O’Brien’s Caravaggio collected the £127,597 prize last year. Ante-post favourites: Equilateral, Sioux Nation.

4:20pm Coronation Stakes: 7f sprint which tends to feature 1000 Guineas entrants. Promoted to Group 1 status in 1988 and won by the O’Brien-trained Winter in 2017. Ante-post favourites: Clemmie, Teppal.  

5:00pm Sandringham Stakes: Straight 1m renewal open only to three-year-old fillies. Downgraded to a Class 2 Handicap for 2018 and won last year by the Con Te Partiro for Wesley Ward.

5:35pm Duke of Edinburgh Stakes: Previously known as the Bessborough Stakes, winners of this 1m 3f handicap often go on to Group company. Rare Rhythm landed this for the in-form Charlie Appleby in 2017.     

Day Five: Saturday 23rd June

2:30pm Chesham Stakes: Extended to 7f in 1996, the Listed Chesham Stakes is the opener on the final day at Royal Ascot. Contested by two-year-olds, it has been won by O’Brien in each of the last two years.

3:05pm Hardwicke Stakes: Sir Michael Stoute has trained the winner of this 1m 3f Group 2 renewal a record 10 times. O’Brien claimed last year’s running with Idaho. Ante-post favourites: Crystal Ocean, Defoe.    

3:40pm Windsor Castle Stakes: First run in 1988, this Listed 5f sprint was won last year by the Charlie Appleby-trained Sound and Silence. Solely for two-year-olds and fillies get a 5lb allowance.

4:20pm Diamond Jubilee Stakes: 6f Group 1 sprint which is the highlight of the final day and forms part of the British Champions Series. Open to four-year-olds and above; won last year by The Tin Man. Ante-post favourites: Harry Angel, Merchant Navy. 

5:00pm Wokingham Stakes: Expect a bumper field for this 6f handicap sprint which is usually one of the most popular betting events of the meet. Out Do won at 25/1 in 2018 to become the fifth double-price victor in six years. Ante-post favourites: Dreamfield, Silent Echo.    

5:35pm Queen Alexandra Stakes: Royal Ascot concludes with the longest British flat race on the calendar at 2m 6f. It often attracts National Hunt horses and trainers alike, and was won last year by Mark Johnson’s Oriental Fox.

Royal Ascot race previews, betting tips and racing news – Coral have it all.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing