It’s the one racing event of the season that The Queen never misses, and despite turning 92 a few days ago, she will be at Royal Ascot as usual this year. A recommendation by Her Majesty is a good enough tip for most of us, so whether you are planning on dusting off your best suit and getting along to the most exclusive racing festival or the year or you are just planning on catching the action on TV and perhaps placing a few well-considered wagers online, here’s all you need to know.
Dates for your diary
Royal Ascot is a five-day festival that gets underway on Tuesday 19 June and reaches its climax on Saturday 23 June. There are six races every day, and as the event draws closer, the bookmakers will be adjusting the odds. Canny punters will similarly be adjusting their horse race betting strategies accordingly, and here, we will take a look at some of the top tips for the biggest races.
Tuesday: The King’s Stand Stakes
The feature race on the opening day is a five-furlong sprint and it gets Royal Ascot off to a flying start in every sense of the term. The Charlie Hills-trained Battash is the early favourite with the bookmakers, having won five of his last six outings, and most are currently quoting around the 5/2 mark. But don’t discount last year’s winner. Lady Aurelia put in a stunning performance and surprised a lot of punters last year. Bookmakers have the filly at 3/1, and clearly think there is a genuine chance of lightning striking twice.
Wednesday: The Prince of Wales’ Stakes
All eyes are on Cracksman in the showcase race on Wednesday, and it will take a serious upset for anyone to spoil the party for the horse widely tipped to be named Cartier Horse of the Year. Bookmakers are quoting even money on the four year old, trained by John Gosden, even at this early stage. The biggest challenge will come from Sir Michael Stout’s Poet’s Word – the five year old had a good win last time out at Sandown.
Thursday: The Gold Cup
The two and a half mile Gold Cup is one of the most important races of the season, never mind the festival. Last year saw an epic finish as Big Orange beat the odds on favourite Order of St George by a short head. Will we see a similarly memorable showdown in 2018? Order of St George is one again top with the bookies, and trainer Aidan O’Brien will be desperate to put last year’s disappointment behind him. There will be no Big Orange to spoil the party this year, but look out for Stradivarius, another Gosden-trained horse who is coming into form at just the right moment.
Friday: The Commonwealth Cup
It’s back down to six furlongs for the big race on Friday, and the bookmakers fancy Sioux Nation after early favourite Beckford was withdrawn. The three year old memorably won the Norfolk Stakes in last year’s event and won plenty of fans at the same time, who will be eager to see the horse go one better with a feature win. The bookmakers have the Aidan O’Brien-trained gelding as warm favourite at around 5/1, so this is a far more open race.
Saturday: The Diamond Jubilee Stakes
Royal Ascot concludes with a bang on Saturday, and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes is the big race that everyone will be waiting for. Many are seeing this as a two horse race between Harry Angel and Redkirk Warrior, but Merchant Navy, yet another of Aidan O’Brien’s is also coming into form and attracting the attention of the bookmakers.