Royal Ascot 2024: 5 Big Races to Keep An Eye On - The Stratford Observer

Royal Ascot 2024: 5 Big Races to Keep An Eye On

Stratford Editorial 6th Jun, 2024 Updated: 10th Jun, 2024   0

As we welcome the summer weather, there is plenty of sporting action to keep us entertained over the coming weeks: Euro 2024, Wimbledon, and the T20 Cricket World Cup are just some of the events that will take place across an action-packed June.

But it’s also Royal Ascot season (18th June – 22nd June), with the 2024 meeting looking like being one of the most action-packed in recent memory.

The meeting always has a unique flavour due to its royal connections, but it should not be overlooked that it is one of the world’s greatest racing festivals in a pure sporting sense.

Of course, Royal Ascot isn’t the only show in town this June, as the international flat racing season is warming up across the globe. For example, Belmont Stakes betting is now live for the 3rd leg of America’s prestigious Triple Crown. Yet, back in Blighty, all eyes will be on the pomp and ceremony at Royal Ascot. It may be eclipsed by Cheltenham in terms of raw action, and the Grand National draws in casual fans, but Royal Ascot oozes with prestige: Few horse racing events on earth are as historic or iconic.

So, what do we have in store this year?

Queen Anne Stakes: 18th June

The opening race of the meeting is always keenly contested. The Queen Anne Stakes is a Group 1 race for four-year-olds and up, run over a mile. To an extent, it sets the tone of the meeting, giving us a glimpse of what is in store across the subsequent five days. The action is fairly furious, as some of the world’s best one-milers contest the race in under two minutes. The great Frankel won this one before, and the race itself is named after Queen Anne, who founded Ascot Racecourse.

St James’s Palace Stakes: 18th June

This Group 1 race is for three-year-old colts and is run over 7f 213y. It tends to draw in runners who competed in the first Classic of the season, the 2000 Guineas, as well as the Irish 2000 Guineas and big international races. It’s a little faster than the Queen Anne Stakes, featuring many three-year-olds at the peak of their powers. Trainer Aidan O’Brien has dominated the race in the 21st century (nine wins), so keep an eye out for his horses.

Prince of Wales’s Stakes: 19th June

The Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes is one of the most prestigious events for middle distance runners. It’s open to horses aged four years and older and is run over a distance of 1m 2f, and it is the feature race of Day 2, when we really get into the feel of the meeting. Ascot races tend to chop and change names over time, but this one has been called the Prince of Wales’s Stakes since its inauguration in 1862. The race was briefly discontinued after the Second World War (when there was no Prince of Wales), but it was re-established when the current King Charles III came into that title in 1968. Nomenclature aside, it’s always one of the best races at the meeting.

Ascot Gold Cup: 20th June

The Gold Cup is the undisputed highlight of Royal Ascot and one of the most celebrated horse races in the world. Taking place on Ladies Day (expect some exquisite hats and frocks), the Group 1 affair is run over a distance of 2m 4f, making it a true test of stamina for the best stayers in the business. The legendary Yeats won this four times in the 2000s, and while few horses can claim to be in the same bracket, we do have a hot favourite this year in the form of Kyprios. All eyes will be on this one as it is the most prestigious staying race in the British flat racing calendar.

The late Queen is still venerated by the racing community, so it is fitting that the race named in her honour is the feature race of the final day of the festival. This Group 1 sprint race is open to horses aged four years and older and is run over 6 furlongs. It has also proven a useful option for those who enjoy a value bet – last year’s winner, Khaadem, came in at a right royal price of 80/1. Previous winners also include the Australian legend Black Caviar. Kinross and Mill Stream are among the fancies for the 2024 renewal.

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