Royal Ascot is the highlight of the Flat racing season in Britain, with five days of top-class action featuring 36 races. Royal Ascot is Britain’s most valuable race meeting and plays host to the best Flat horses from Britain and Ireland, as well as drawing big-name runners from other countries including France, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and the US.
With 19 Group races – eight of them Group 1s – and £7.3 million in prize-money on offer in 2019, Royal Ascot features a greater concentration of top-quality racing than any other meeting in Britain, with many of the world’s best horses competing against each other.
Traditionally, Royal Ascot is a major social and fashion event and, with 300,000 racegoers making their way to Ascot racecourse over the five days, it is the best-attended race meeting in Europe. In 2020, however, there will be no admittance to the public as racing runs behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. Over a million viewers are expected to tune in to ITV and enjoy the action from their living room.
Royal Ascot and Ascot racecourse have been closely associated with the royal family from the very beginning, the track having been founded by Queen Anne in 1711 after she came across the site while out riding. The first race, Her Majesty’s Plate, took place on August 11.
Close to Windsor Castle, the track is very much a local course for the royal family and Royal Ascot has received patronage from many monarchs since Queen Anne, including the current Queen Elizabeth II, who has attended every Royal Ascot during her 67-year reign.
The Queen does not just enjoy Royal Ascot as a spectator – she has had 23 winners at the big meeting as an owner. The first to carry her famous purple and red colours to victory was Choir Boy in the 1953 Royal Hunt Cup, just one year after the Queen ascended to the throne, and the most recent was Dartmouth, who won the Hardwicke Stakes in 2016.
The most celebrated association between Royal Ascot and the royal family is the royal procession, a cavalcade of horse-drawn carriages in which the royal party enter the racecourse each day before racing.
The tradition was established by King George IV in 1825 and originally the carriages carried the royal party all the way from Windsor Castle on to the racecourse. But today the Queen, her guests and other members of the royal family are first taken by car from the castle to Windsor Great Park. There they are transferred to the awaiting carriages in order to continue their journey to the racecourse, which they enter via a gate at the start of the straight mile before proceeding down the track in front of racegoers at 2pm each day to the parade ring.
The feature race on each day of Royal Ascot is often the most compelling. The wealth of prize-money on offer coupled with the Group-One status of the race, ensure it is always a competitive and exciting affair.
Tuesday plays host to the King’s Stand Stakes which is a Group-One sprint run over five furlongs. The race has been won by the likes of Sole Power and Blue Point in recent years and this year the 2019 runner-up, Battaash, will bid to go one better. He is a prolific racehorse in his own right but will be highly touted to cement his name in the Royal Ascot history books this year.
The feature race on Wednesday is the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, a middle-distance Group-One run over 10 furlongs for older horses. Royal Ascot 2019 winner, Japan, is the warm favourite for Irish champion trainer Aidan O’Brien and could take all the beating in his bid for back to back Royal wins.
Thursday sets the stage for arguably the most prolific race of the entire week, the Ascot Gold Cup. Run over 2m, the Ascot Gold Cup is the most valuable staying flat race in the racing calendar, and under normal circumstances forms part of the £1 million bonus scheme. Winners require pace, class and above all, stamina. Hot favourite, Stradivarius, has already won the hearts of spectators, by winning three races at Royal Ascot including the Ascot Gold Cup for the past two years.
The penultimate day of Royal Ascot includes a host of Group action, with the feature race, the Commonwealth Cup, taking centre stage. This Group-One for three-year-olds is a sprint over six furlongs and often a wide-open affair. This year is no exception, with an abundance of talent and no clear favourite in the betting.
Royal Ascot concludes on Saturday with a bumper 8-race card including three Group-One races and 2 Group-Two races. The feature race is the Diamond Jubilee, the most valuable sprint race of the week and will showcase some of the fastest horses in the world. In the last 8 years there have been winners from Britain, Ireland, America and even Australia with the brilliant Black Caviar.
Frankie Dettori may be pushing 50, but as Royal Ascot’s winning-most jockey he is hard to ignore with a record 66 wins at the Royal meeting. Last year, the Italian landed his first ‘top-jockey’ title at Royal Ascot since 2004 proving he is still a force to reckoned with. Another name to look out for is Ryan Moore, Ascot’s second winning-most jockey at the royal meeting with 58 wins. Moore is stable jockey to the powerful Aidan O’Brien stable and will have an exciting book of rides from the Irish contingent.
Royal Ascot is accustomed to welcoming overseas contenders which adds an intriguing angle to any race. In recent years we have seen runners from France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Australia and the US. Royal Ascot’s biggest over-seas supporter, however, is Wesley Ward from the U.S. The American trainer has an impressive record at Royal Ascot, notching ten wins since 2009 including superstar mare Lady Aurelia who won twice in consecutive years. Ward excels in the sprinting division so keep an eye out for his runners in the 5f and 6f contests.
Royal Ascot has something for everyone, whether you’re an experienced punter or a complete novice. For those who may not have placed a bet online before, it can be a confusing experience so we have created a simple step-by-step guide to help you get involved in the action.
1. Sign up to a bookmaker and deposit funds to get started.
You will need an online bookmaker account to start placing bets, so choose a bookmaker and enter your details to get set-up. You can find a list of secure and trusted bookmakers on our free bets page, which also allows you to compare the best welcome offers and new customer bonuses.
2. Select the race and horse you would like to bet on
Select ‘Horse Racing’ and navigate to the racecourse and time of the race you want to place a bet on. Carefully select the horse you would like to bet on and click the odds button to add your selection to the betslip. You can add more than one horse if you would like to bet on multiple horses at once. If you do not know who to bet on, you can study the form using our detailed racecards, or browsing the latest tips from our industry-leading experts.
3. Adjust stake and each-way options
Now you have added your selection to the betslip, you’re ready to place your bet. Adjust your stake accordingly and select whether you would like to back each-way or to win (each-way pays if your horse places). Take advantage of Best-Odds-Guaranteed and if the price of your horse drifts to a bigger price then you will be paid out at the bigger price.
4. Cheer your horse on whilst watching the race live
Most bookmakers offer a bet-to-view service, which means if you place a bet on a race then you will be able to watch the race live. Click ‘watch-race’ on the racecard to begin streaming the action live.
Remember, you can also place your bets through the Racing Post mobile app. Simply install the app here and sign-in to your bookmakers to get started. Study the form, get the latest tips and place your bets all in one place. No need to keep swapping apps.
Punters have developed a range of methods to picking a winner. Some pick the prettiest silks or the funniest name, whilst others use a lucky number. However, if you want to learn a little more about the contenders in a race and make an informed decision on who to bet on – you’ll need to read the racecard.
We’ve put together a helpful ‘how-to’ guide to help you read a racecard in time for Royal Ascot 2020.