The Royal Ascot Festival
Royal Ascot is one of the most famous race meetings in the world, and it's the best attended in Europe. Over a quarter of a million people visit Ascot Racecourse during Royal Ascot, and the five-day event features top class racing and a number of Group 1 races. The highlight of the meeting is the Gold Cup, which takes place on the third day (Ladies' Day). More details on the Royal Ascot race meeting can be found below.
History of Ascot Racecourse & Royal Ascot
Ascot Racecourse is over 300 years old, founded in 1711 by Queen Anne. She decided the location was ideal for a racecourse while out riding from Windsor Castle. The first meeting at Ascot featured Her Majesty's Plate, a three-heat race for any horse over the age of six. Racing became commonplace, and in 1813, a parliamentary act was passed to ensure that the land (owned by the Crown) would be used as a public racecourse. A later act established the Ascot Authority, still responsible for managing the racecourse today.
The Royal Ascot meeting was the only racing that took place at Ascot until around the middle of the 20th century. The history of Royal Ascot essentially dates back to that first race meeting in 1711; and since then, the race meeting has evolved into the current format. The first records of it being a four-day meeting are from 1768; and in 1807, the Gold Cup was introduced. From that point on, more top class races have been added to the event, and Royal Ascot now takes place over five days featuring a number of Group 1 races.
Group 1 Races at Royal Ascot
There are a total of seven Group 1 races at Royal Ascot, at least one on each of the five days. The majority of the other races are Group 2. The schedule can be changed around, but there's a format in place that's generally adhered to. The first day of the meeting, a Tuesday, opens with three Group 1 races: the Queen Anne Stakes, The King's Stand Stakes, and The St. James Palace Stakes.
The Queen Anne Stakes was founded in 1840, originally called the Trial Stakes before being renamed after Queen Anne in 1930. It's open to Thoroughbreds aged four years and older. The King's Stand Stakes is open to Thoroughbreds aged three years and older and is run over 5 furlongs. It was established in 1860 and has been part of the Global Sprint Challenge since 2005. The St James Palace Stakes was established in 1834 and is run over 1 mile. It's for three year old colts only.
On the second day of the Royal Ascot, the feature race is the Prince of Wales Stakes for four year olds and older, and it's contested over 1 mile and 2 furlongs. The main race on the third day is the Gold Cup, established in 1807, and often referred to as the Ascot Gold Cup to avoid confusion with other Gold Cup races. It's official name is simply the Gold Cup. The race is run over 2 miles and 4 furlongs and is the first leg of the Stayers' Triple Crown (the other two legs are the Goodwood Cup and the Doncaster Cup).
On day four of Royal Ascot is the Coronation Stakes, a one-mile race for three year old fillies first run in 1840. On the fifth and final day of Royal Ascot, the main race is the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. This race was founded in 1868 as the All-Aged Stakes before being renamed the Cork and Orrery Stakes in the 1920s. It was renamed again in 2002 to mark the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. In 2012, the year of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, it was given its current name. It's a 6 furlong race for three-year-olds and older.
Betting on the 2016 Festival
As a five day racing event, with six races per day, there are betting opportunities galore during Royal Ascot. Of course, you don't have to bet on every race, and many bettors will stick to the big ones. However, it's often the big events that are hardest to predict, and you'll frequently find better value in some of the other races taking place. It's a good idea to look through the race card each day and see if there areany horses that stand out.
There are many ways to bet on horse racing, and, in our opinion, the easiest way is to use an online betting site. If you are going to bet online, it's important to use a reputable and reliable site. Any of the sites suggested on our horse racing guide come highly recommended and provide a safe and reliable betting option.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: July 2015
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