Comprising of five days of top quality racing, which runs from June 18-22 in 2019, the meeting attracts the cream of equine talent, their owners, trainers and jockeys and over 300,000 racegoers, not to mention the hundreds of thousands watching on ITV.
There are 18 Group races – eight of them Group 1 – ranging from the five-furlong King’s Stand Stakes to the two-and-a-half mile Gold Cup. The rest of the action is made up by pattern races and prestigious handicaps, such as the Royal Hunt Cup, run over the straight mile, and the six-furlong Wokingham Stakes.
The meeting gets underway with a bang as the opening Queen Anne Stakes is quickly followed by two further Group 1s: the aforementioned King’s Stand Stakes, one of the world’s most pre-eminent sprint races, and St James’s Palace Stakes, which attracts horses that have run in the English, Irish and French 2,000 Guineas and is run over the round mile.
Tuesday’s Coventry Stakes over six furlongs is the first of six races confined to two-year-olds and while it falls relatively early in the Flat season, it’s never short of top-class juveniles, several of whom will have pretensions on next season’s Classics. Aidan O’Brien has been the trainer to follow in more recent years as he’s won it eight times and often fields more than one runner – the betting perhaps being the best guide to his number one hope.
The master of Ballydoyle won a record seven races at Royal Ascot in 2016 and anything he runs is always worth considering as he’s never short of ammunition and clearly targets the meeting. His first choice jockey Ryan Moore has unsurprisingly been crowned top jockey in eight of the last nine seasons and has now bagged 53 Royal Ascot winners overall.
Thursday is Ladies’ Day and the Ribblesdale Stakes, run over 1m4f and annually since 1919, is fittingly open exclusively for three-year-old fillies, and being run over the same trip as the Epsom Oaks, often features runners from that Classic. But the feature race on day three is undoubtedly the Gold Cup, which represents an extreme test of stamina and is the first leg of the Stayers’ Triple Crown. Last year’s winner Stradivarius is expected to defend his crown in 2019 and is a short price to do so.
Friday’s Commonwealth Cup over 6f is a relatively new race in the calendar, having been introduced in 2015, and it’s quickly become the early season target of three-year-old sprinters. This year’s race could feature Aidan O’Brien’s Ten Sovereigns, who was reportedly inconvenienced by soft ground when only fifth as favourite in the 2000 Guineas and will revert to sprinting in a bid to get his career back on track.
The sole Group 1 on Super Saturday is the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, which is for older sprinters (four-year-olds and up) and regularly attracts runners from outside the UK, particularly Australia. But the big betting race on the final day of the meeting is the Wokingham Stakes over 6f, a fiendishly difficult handicap for punters to solve. It’s no surprise that favourites have a poor record, with just one obliging in the last decade. That said, it often pays to concentrate on those drawn in the five nearest stalls to either rail and in good form – eight of the last ten winners had achieved a top-four finish on their most recent outing.
If that’s whetted your appetite for the 2019 Royal Ascot meeting, you’ll be wise to favourite this site as there will plenty of news and tips in the run up, and we might even help you turn a profit.
Antonia De Vega kept her Classic dreams alive after she ran out an impressive winner of the Johnnie Lewis Memorial EBF Stakes at Newbury.