Royal Ascot 2018: what you need to know about this month's big meeting
What makes Royal Ascot special?
Royal Ascot dates back to when the racecourse itself was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, who loved horseracing, and is located six miles from Windsor Castle. It hosted its first race, Her Majesty’s Plate, in August of that year, and introduced the royal carriage procession in 1825, which has continued to this day.
The meeting is expected to attract more than 300,000 people across the five days, including the Queen and other members of the Royal Family, and will feature eight Group 1 races.
It is viewed as the pinnacle of the British Flat season, as horses from all over the world travel to compete for the £7.3 million prize-money on offer.
Last year’s Gold Cup winner was Big Orange, ridden by James Doyle and trained by Michael Bell, who held on to win by a short head over favourite Order Of St George.
Schedule and key races
Royal Ascot runs this year from Tuesday, June 19, until Saturday, June 23, and will host at least one Group 1 race each day.
The feature race on the opening day is the King’s Stand Stakes, a 5f sprint, while Wednesday will be headlined by the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
On Thursday the stamina-sapping Gold Cup takes centre stage, Friday hosts the Commonwealth Cup and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes brings the meeting to a close on Saturday.
Who are the key runners?
With so many huge races, plenty of big names from the flat scene will be running. Here are a few of the top contenders that are set to feature.
Battaash lines up in the King’s Stand Stakes and is the one to watch having won five of his last six runs, including a sparkling four-length victory in the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye at Chantilly in October.
Cartier Horse of the Year candidate Cracksman is unbeaten in his last five runs and is the worthy market leader for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, while Order Of St George looks to make amends for last year's Gold Cup defeat for Aidan O’Brien.
Sioux Nation was impressive in the Lacken Stakes last month and is favourite for the Commonwealth Cup, while the unbeaten Main Desire could give Michael Bell another reason to celebrate this year.
Star sprinter Harry Angel flies the flag for Clive Cox against Australian import Redkirk Warrior in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
When and where can I watch it?
The racing begins each day at 2.30pm, with the final race being at 5.35pm, and will be broadcast live on ITV and Racing UK.
Can I still get tickets?
Tickets for some enclosures are available for the meetings from Tuesday to Friday, but Saturday is sold out.
Visit the official website for details.
Who should I back?
The question everyone wants answered!
Have a look at the card and check out our free bet offers to start with, and make sure you keep checking the Racing Post website, mobile app and newspaper for all our expert betting advice and news in the run-up to the big meeting.
Don't miss the Racing Post Royal Ascot Guide 2018, the new 208-page book packed with all the information you need to get ready for the five-day summer spectacular. Order here or call 01933 304858