|Wednesday 26th April 2023|
Why Royal Ascot is a Must-See Event for Horse Racing Fans
With the five-day jamboree not far away, we assess the key reasons as to why a visit to Royal Ascot should be on the bucket list for any lovers of sport and style:
The greatest five days in Flat history would be nothing without the thoroughbreds as the world’s greatest horses descend upon the Berkshire circuit in pursuit of winning some of the ultimate prizes across the globe.
First-time Royal Ascot-goers cannot fail to be awe-stricken by the sheer beauty of these regally-bred animals, who are trained to the minute by some of the best trainers on the planet.
Day one at Royal Ascot (Tuesday, June 20) is often considered the best afternoon of Flat racing in the world. The meeting begins with a bang with the Queen Anne Stakes, a one-mile Group One race that has traditionally yielded some unbelievably good winners. Last year’s winner Baaeed elevated the race to another level, however, with a jaw-dropping display of speed and stamina.
There are also two other Group One races on the card – the King’s Stand Stakes and the St James’ Palace Stakes.
The King’s Stand is all about speed. Run over five furlongs on the Ascot straight course, it is very much a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affair, in which global sprinting superstars scorch the turf. The Australian runners are often to be feared in the King’s Stand, as last year’s winner Nature Strip comprehensively testified. It will be fast, furious – and so much fun.
Next up at the highest level is the St James’s Palace Stakes over a mile. Put simply, some of the best horses to have ever graced the turf have won this one. From Rock Of Gibraltar to the peerless Frankel, the list of elite St James’s Palace Stakes scorers has consistently been on another level.
Day two at Royal Ascot (Wednesday, June 22) is also off the charts. The young fillies firstly get to strut their stuff in the Queen Mary Stakes, while supplementary Group Two action arrives in the shape of the Queen’s Vase for stayers and the Duke of Cambridge Stakes for fillies and mares.
But the feature race on day two is the Prince of Wales’s Stakes over a mile and a quarter. What is largely considered one of the ultimate tests for a thoroughbred is a must-watch affair. Recent winners might not have kicked on as far as was expected, but who can forget the likes of Dubai Millennium, Azamour and Ouija Board streaking up the Ascot straight in a blaze of colour and glory?
Day three at the Royal meeting (Thursday, June 22) is all about the Gold Cup. Having first been staged in 1807 – yes, 1807! – this race is by far the most historic of its kind in the world.
Stamina is the key to winning the Gold Cup. The two-and-a-half-mile trip always takes some getting, but some wonderful horses over the years have made it look like a five-furlong sprint – such has been their class.
The mighty Yeats has won it four times, with that wonderful grinder Stradivarius on the mark on three occasions. But it was the victory of Estimate, owned by the late Her Majesty the Queen that has had such a profound effect on the sport. Her Majesty had always dreamed of winning the Gold Cup, and when it came true, her joy from the stands unified a nation and warmed hearts across the world.
Day four’s duel highlights are the Commonwealth Cup and the Coronation Stakes.
The Commonwealth is a new race by Royal Ascot terms – it was only established in 2015 – but it was specifically designed to give three-year-old sprinters, who often struggle against their elders, a chance of glory.
It has been a resounding success, too, with perhaps the extraordinarily quick Muhaarar winning in its first year the high-water mark.
The Group One Coronation Stakes is far more traditional than the Commonwealth Cup, but no less pulse-chasing for racing fans. Admittedly, the race could do with a little boost after some recent moderate renewals, but this one-mile showdown continues to churn out superb young fillies for the future.
Day five at Royal Ascot (Friday, June 22) is a relatively new addition to the schedule, but it has become a genuinely fun day out for folk that are unable to take time off work during the week.
‘People’s Day’, as it has been branded, is also not short of top-class action on the track. Sitting proudly as the afternoon’s keystone race is the Platinum Jubilee Stakes.
This six-furlong Group One often lures those sprinters who have run so well in the King’s Stand Stakes on the Tuesday back for another go. Blue Point did the famous double back in 2019, but you can pretty much guarantee that the Australian and American speedballs will be there in good numbers.
If you want to join the action, you can always venture into horse racing betting for more excitement.
The ‘Frankie’ factor
The world’s greatest jockey, Frankie Dettori, will retire at the end of the season. Dettori has done so much for the sport. Not just due to his wonderful prowess in the saddle, but because of his enthusiasm and genuine love for the game.
The Italian struggled at the meeting last year but will be cheered on by his army of supporters as he strives to leave Royal Ascot with at least one more winner. His every move will be followed. It will be fun to watch, though not necessarily for the jockey.
Royal Ascot 2023 will take on added poignancy following last year’s death of the Queen. Her Majesty was pretty much ever present throughout her favourite week of the year, and her loss will be keenly honoured.
But, if anything, Royal Ascot officials have gone out of their way to make sure the Queen will never be forgotten. It should be a beautiful occasion to remember a woman who gave so much to racing the nation.
For many at Royal Ascot, it’s all about the clobber. Rich people spend idle lumps of cash on over-the-top attire with the sole purpose of looking good. It does not sit easily with many in attendance at Royal Ascot, not least this year given the cost-of-living crisis.
Either way, to see all the incredibly expensive hats and dresses, in which strutting peacocks would give these people a run for their money, doesn’t half make for quite the sight – if you like that sort of thing.
*Odds subject to change and were correct at time of publication
( 26.04.2023 )
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