Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Royal Ascot 2012

Royal Ascot

Tuesday 19th - Saturday 23rd June 2012

By Stephen Dwyer

Not by mere coincidence does Royal Ascot take place during the height of summer. What better time to stage one of the world’s most famous horse racing meetings than when the days are at their longest. By midsummer’s eve, Royal Ascot will reach fever-pitch, just as it is entitled to do.
Last year, Royal Ascot celebrated its tercentenary. Three hundred years have passed since Queen Anne set aside the rolling turf of Ascot Heath for horse racing. The Queen attended the opening day shortly afterwards. It all began with a race worth 50 guineas, today no race is worth less than £55,000.

Ascot is now the United Kingdom’s only remaining racecourse still owned by the Crown. Her majesty’s arrival via horse-drawn carriage adds an air of tradition to what is Europe’s flagship race meeting. To add to the legend, it is said the Queen, who has had no less than 63 winners at Ascot, can tell the going of the ground by the sound her carriage wheels make.

In an era where prize money in on the decline, Royal Ascot remains unaffected. They understand that to attract the world’s best flat horses, they must offer substantial prize money. The total Prize Fund for this year’s Royal Meeting will be £4,500,000, an increase of 20% on 2011 values. For owners and trainers, this is reason enough to target their stable stars specifically at the meeting. 

There are 30 races held over the course of the five days of Royal Ascot, seven of these are Group 1’s. Among them include The Diamond Jubilee Stakes, renamed this year to commemorate 60 years of Royal Ascot during the Reign of Her Majesty The Queen. Carrying prize money of £500,000 it is Britain’s most valuable sprint race and it attracts an unbeaten five year old mare that will travel almost 11,000 miles for this race.

Around Melbourne they call her the Freak with the Streak. Paying a first visit to the Northern Hemisphere, Black Caviar, the Australian wonder mare is currently the 1/2 favourite for the 6f Diamond Jubilee. Deservedly so, she has won 21 races in a row, 11 of those were at Group 1 level. In bullish fashion, the Australian Sunday Herald Sun recently carried the headline “Royal Ascot will bow down for Black Caviar”. Her addition to Royal Ascot will most certainly be a once-off and an occasion to truly savour.

Opening this year’s Royal Ascot is The Queen Anne Stakes; it is set to showcase once more the talent of the world’s best racehorse, Frankel. Fresh from his impressive win in the Lockinge Stakes, Frankel was chalked up at an early price of 1/3 for The Queen Anne and for a horse that is even money to remain unbeaten throughout his career, few would bet against him. The BHA Handicapper has recently upped Frankel to 138, this is the highest ever global rating since new classifications were and is 2lb ahead of Sea The Stars. Last year Canford Cliffs got the better of Goldikova in a narrow betting heat but this time around, it must surely be a case of Frankel galloping the field into submission; business as usual then 

One of the crowd favourites at Royal Ascot is the 2m 4f Gold Cup which takes place on Ladies’ Day. It is Ascot’s oldest surviving race. Lester Piggott won this staying event eleven times but in recent years it is Aidan O’ Brien who has made the race his own. With Yeats completing a four-timer in the Gold Cup from 2006 to 2009, Fame And Glory bids to complete a double in this year’s renewal. Fame And Glory, a high class six year old beat the highly touted Dermot Weld trained Unaccompanied on his seasonal bow recently and he is a best-priced 9/4 for the Gold Cup. Interestingly, The Gold Cup is the first leg of Britain's Stayers' Triple Crown, followed by the Goodwood Cup and the Doncaster Cup. Fame And Glory will undoubtedly start at a shorter price on the day and is likely to strip fitter. He also remains unbeaten at Ascot. A life size statue of Yeats was unveiled in the parade ring last year to commemorate the horses achievements at Ascot. Whether or not Fame And Glory can emulate his great stablemate is doubtful given his age, but in a race renowned for repeat winners, he is sure to take all the beating for Ballydoyle.

Aside from the plethora of Group 1’s, there is a multitude of top class handicaps which support the main races. The depth and value of the races at Royal Ascot attracts an international field. Runners from Australia, New Zealand, America, Hong Kong, Japan, South Africa and all over Europe have taken part  in recent years. Champion sprinter Choisir, trained in New South Wales famously won the King’s Stand Stakes/Golden Jubilee Stakes double for Australia in 2003. Little wonder then that this meeting is broadcast in over 200 countries worldwide.

Undoubtedly the racing is central to Royal Ascot but of course the other attractions are the attendance of the royal family, the high fashion of Ladies’ Day and the ubiquitous good natured atmosphere throughout the week. The local population of Ascot swells by over 300,000 during race week and it is the pinnacle of the social calendar for many.

The Royal meeting is one of the busiest weeks of the year for bookmakers. In 2011 it was estimated that over £400 million of bets were placed which was a significant increase on 2010. Given the supreme calibre of equine talent on show this year, that figure is likely to rise once more. 

Distilling the five days Royal Ascot into one phrase is no easy task but Johnny Weatherby, Her Majesty’s Representative describes the meeting as “the ultimate stage for the best racehorses in the world.” With the sun shining and the likes of Frankel, Black Caviar and So You Think on offer, who can argue with that.

Royal Ascot, summertime at its finest.

 Copyright: Betview Magazine

Trivia Box:
@AscotInsider, is the Twitter handle of Royal Ascot. With 9,800 followers it is the most popular racecourse Twitter account
Ascot has the largest number of private boxes (255) of any sporting facility in Europe.
Approximately 400 helicopters and 1,000 limos descend on Royal Ascot every year.
There are four races run at Ascot commemorating racehorses – The Brown Jack Stakes,
Hyperion Stakes, Sagaro Stakes and Reynoldstown Chase.
£71 is the price of a Grandstand ticket for Saturday
The grounds of Ascot United F.C. play are at Ascot Racecourse. Their logo features a winning post.

Article References:

1 comment:

Onefortheroadtom a solid each way option

Onefortheroadtom a solid each way option By Stephen Dwyer Onefortheroadtom, pictured above after being sold last year at ...