Just as the four days of the Cheltenham Festival in March mark the pinnacle of the National Hunt racing season, the five days in June that see Ascot stage its Royal Ascot meeting represent the highlight of the Flat racing year. Here we take a look at the history of the meeting, as well as providing all the best free bets and betting offers for this year’s Royal Ascot.
Royal Ascot Betting Offers and Free Bets
The Royal Ascot-specific offers and promotions will be posted here in due course. Here are some long-standing welcome bonuses from some of the best bookies in the business.
- Totesport Non Runner No Bet – Totesport are offering NRNB on all Royal Ascot 2018 races. Significant Terms: Applies to bets placed from 08:00 on 11/06/18. Non Runners refunded in cash. Full T&Cs Apply.
- Betfred Non Runner No Bet – Betfred are also offering NRNB on all Royal Ascot 2018 races. Significant Terms: Applies to bets placed from 08:00 on 11/06/18. Tote bets do no apply. Non Runners refunded in cash. Full T&Cs Apply.
- WILLIAM HILL BET £10 GET £30 IN FREE BETS – Significant Terms: New William Hill online customers only. Min. unit stake of £10/€10 at odds of 1/2 or greater. Only the “win” part from EW bets will count. Free bet terms, payment method & country restrictions apply. Free bets credited as 3 x £10/€10. Free bet stakes are not returned as part of the settlement of successful free bets. All Free Bets must be wagered within 30 days.
- CORAL BET £5, GET £20 IN FREE BETS – Significant Terms: 18+. UK+IRE only. Min first bet £5 at odds 1/2 or more. Tote and Pool excluded. Must be placed within 14 days of account reg. £20 credited as 4 x £5 free bets. Not valid with Cash Out. Free bet valid for 4 days. Free bet stake not returned. T&Cs apply.
- LADBROKES £50 FREE BET OFFER – Significant Terms: 18+. New customers only. Promo code ‘F50’ required. Certain deposit methods excluded. Min £/€5 on win or each-way bet excluding Tote or pools = match max £/€50 free bet. Min odds 1/2 (1.5). Bet must be made within 14 days. Free bet valid for 4 days. Free bet stake not returned. Single bets only. Free bet cannot be used on certain markets. T&Cs apply.
- TOTESPORT £20 NEW CUSTOMER OFFER – Significant Terms: New customers only. 18+. Stake £10 on any Sportsbook market for the first time, at odds of evens (2.0) or greater and get a £10 Free Bet within 24 hours of settlement, 7 day expiry. Stake £10 on any Totepool bet for the first time, and receive £10 back in cash within 24 hours of settlement. Full T&Cs Apply.
Royal Ascot Overview
There may be more prestigious races run throughout the calendar but in terms of sustained quality there is little to compare to this Flat festival. The standard on offer is well illustrated by the fact that of the 32 British Group 1 races run each year, eight are at this meeting. As if that wasn’t enough there are 10 additional Group contests over the five days.
Located just six miles from Windsor Castle both the Ascot course and this Royal meeting were founded by Queen Anne in 1711. This Royal tradition carries on to this day over five days filled with pomp and occasion. A Royal procession provides a dramatic prelude to each of the days’ racing, with the Queen and other dignitaries in attendance throughout the week. This unique prestige has helped Royal Ascot grow to become Europe’s best attended race meeting. Almost as much a showcase for the latest fashions, and hats in particular, as it is for the racing, it has become one of the social events of the British year.
We prefer to concentrate on the equine talent on display of course, and what talent there is. Attracted by total prize money of £5.5million, the meeting draws the cream of the crop from across Europe and further afield. Expect to see the superstar older horses mixing it with the best of the current Classic generation. Here we take a look at the major races of the week with particular focus on the Group One contests.
Royal Ascot – Main Races
Check out the race previews – with betting tips and race-specific betting offers – for the biggest races of the Royal Ascot meeting:
- Queen Anne Stakes Tips and Preview
- King’s Stand Stakes Tips and Preview
- St James’s Palace Stakes Tips and Preview
- Prince of Wales’s Stakes Tips and Preview
- Ascot Gold Cup Tips and Preview
- Coronation Stakes Tips and Preview
- Diamond Jubilee Stakes Tips and Preview
Royal Ascot 2018 Ante Post Tips and Preview
As the weather continues to heat up we’re very much getting into the meat of the Flat Racing season. Racing fans have already been served up some excellent contests but for many it’s Royal Ascot that provides the real highlight of the season.
Thankfully, the five day festival is just around the corner so it’s time to mark your card with the best bets from Royal Ascot’s biggest races.
Queen Anne Stakes – Rhododendron to win the at 4/1 with Ladbrokes
Just a couple of weeks before Royal Ascot shrewd ante post punters were backing Rhododendron to win the Queen Anne Stakes at 10/1. That price vanished as soon as Aidan O’Brien’s filly won a dramatic renewal of the Lockinge Stakes.
Rhododendron didn’t quite live up to her billing as a three-year-old but you can forgive her for finding Winter and Enable too good in the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks respectively. She did win a Group 1 at two and three though and has now done likewise as a four-year-old. Rhododendron is at her best over a mile and she should be too good to stop over that trip in the Queen Anne Stakes where she’s a best price of 4/1 with Ladbrokes.
King’s Stand Stakes – Kachy each way at 14/1 with Coral
The King’s Stand Stakes is one of the most highly anticipated sprints of the season. The five furlong contest is part of the Global Sprint Challenge so always attracts some big name competitors and we have an international field set to go to post at Royal Ascot.
The early betting is headlined by Battaash and Lady Aurelia. They both deserve plenty of support and will be major players should they compete but the best bet could prove to be an each way play on Kachy at 14/1 with Coral. Tom Dascombe was delighted with the performances of his five-year-old on the all-weather over the winter months. He won impressively enough back on turf last time out at Chester and could just spring a surprise at big odds.
St James’s Palace Stakes – Elarqam to win at 8/1 with Ladbrokes
The St James’s Palace Stakes is much more than a consolation prize but it does provide a second chance to those horses who failed to topple Saxon Warrior in the 2000 Guineas. Many of the horses who competed at Newmarket will be renewing hostilities at Royal Ascot and it’s Elarqam who stands out from the betting at 8/1 with Ladbrokes.
Mark Johnston’s colt could well go on to win Group 1s at longer than a mile but for now this trip looks perfect. Johnston was frustrated by Elarqam’s owner who only sanctioned two races as a juvenile. That means he’s a little behind where he could be but his 2000 Guineas experience should help this impressive colt start to hit the levels expected of him.
Prince of Wales’s Stakes – Cracksman to win at evens with BetVictor
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes provides what is, for many, the best bet of Royal Ascot in the shape of Cracksman. John Gosden’s colt won the Irish Derby last season and then kicked on to end his three-year-old campaign with wins at York, Chantilly and Ascot.
Cracksman’s first performance of this season brought more Group 1 success at Longchamp under Frankie Dettori and there is much more to come. The only real concern is the effects of fatigue from his appearance in the Coronation Cup but Cracksman should still have too much for his competition in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes so back him to win at evens with BetVictor.
Ascot Gold Cup – Torcedor each way at 12/1 with Coral
The big battle ahead of the Ascot Gold Cup is set to be between Order Of St George and Stradivarius. This two mile, four furlong contest is half a mile longer than any other Group 1 in Britain so it’s no surprise that two of the best stayers around are getting the bulk of the support in the betting.
Order Of St George and Stradivarius are the worthy favourites but the chances of Torcedor appear to be overlooked given his price of 12/1 with Coral. Jessica Harrington’s six-year-old bounced back from a shocker at Meydan to win a Group 3 at Ascot at the start of May and represents a great each way option for the Ascot Gold Cup.
Coronation Stakes – Clemmie to win at 7/2 with Paddy Power
The Coronation Stakes is a mile long contest for three-year-old fillies. As you’d expect, there are many parallels to be drawn with this championship race and the 1000 Guineas. Most recent Coronation Stakes winners at least contested the Newmarket Classic and a handful even managed to complete the double. Shock winner of the 1000 Guineas, Billesdon Brook is trying just that but it’s tough to imagine lighting striking twice.
Injury robbed Clemmie of the chance to win the 1000 Guineas but she’s back to full health and has been promptly installed as the bookies favourite for the Coronation Stakes. The favourite is a full sister to Churchill and is expected to be at her best over a mile. That’s a very good sign as this has become a real specialist miler’s race in recent times so make sure to snap up the 7/2 that Paddy Power are quoting on Clemmie’s chances.
Diamond Jubilee Stakes – Tasleet each way at 12/1 with Bet365
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes is one of the Royal Ascot races which has increased in prestige after being added to the Global Sprint Challenge and, like the King’s Stand Stakes, horses from around the world are lining up to compete in this one.
The Australian horse Redkirk Warrior is rated as the best chance to topple Harry Angel who sits at the top of the outright betting but it’s Tasleet who stands out in terms of betting value at 12/1 with Bet365. William Haggas’ five-year-old proved to be a top class sprinter last year. He finished second in the 2017 Diamond Jubilee Stakes and is set for yet another crack at this big prize.
Ascot Day One
Queen Anne Stakes
It is fitting that the first Group One event of the week is named in honour of the monarch who founded the meeting way back in the 18th century. The Queen Anne Stakes has been a feature of the Royal Ascot offering since 1840 and has risen in prestige over the years, culminating in it being granted Group 1 Status in 2003. The conditions of the race were also changed in this year, making it open only to horses aged four or over. No trainer or owner has taken this mile contest more times than Saeed Bin Suroor and Godolphin who won the Queen Anne Stakes on seven occasions between 1996 and 2007. The incomparable Frankel recorded one of the most impressive of his 14 career wins in this race in 2012.
King’s Stand Stakes
The sprinters take centre stage in the second Group 1 (after the Group 2 Coventry Stakes whets our appetite) contest in this 5f event open to thoroughbreds aged three and older. Having been run in one guise or another since 1860, the origins of one of the top sprint races in Europe owes much to the vagaries of the English weather. The Royal Stand Stakes was a marathon two mile contest but due to torrential rain in 1860, only 5f of the track was deemed race-able. The race was reduced to this 5f distance and the rest is history. Repeat winners of the King’s Stand Stakes have been a regular feature of this event with 11 horses managing to land the prize twice.
St James’s Palace Stakes
The third and final Group 1 contest of a spectacular opening day is the 1 mile St James’s Palace Stakes event restricted to the Classic generation of colts. A truly mouth-watering affair it often sees the principles from the English, Irish and French 2000 Guineas locking horns. Given some of the winners of the race and the regard in which it is held, it is perhaps surprising it took until 1988 to be granted Group 1 status. The brilliant Brigadier Gerrard, Rock Of Gibraltar and Frankel feature on the list of previous winners.
Prince Of Wales’s Stakes
Just the one Group 1 contest on day two of Royal Ascot but the Prince of Wales’s Stakes is a cracker that’s for sure. Granted its top tier status in 2000, this event for four-year-olds and up is one of the premier 1m2f contests of the racing year. Originally run over 1m5f in 1862, the current distance was adopted in 1968. The race has been won by the greatest Godolphin horse of them all, the ill-fated Dubai Millennium and one of the best fillies of the early 21st Century Ouija Board. Along with the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on the concluding day this race has historically been the most valuable in terms of prize money of the whole meeting.
Duke Of Cambridge Stakes
One of the newer races at the meeting having only been introduced in 2004, the one mile Duke Of Cambridge Stakes is restricted to fillies and mares aged four years and older. Sir Michael Stoute has been the dominant trainer in the race to date with four wins in the first 11 editions of the race so his horses are always worth considering in the betting.
Royal Hunt Cup
Fans of big field handicaps aren’t left out over the course of the meeting, with this one mile contest run on the straight course being the pick. A handicap rich in heritage having been run since 1843 it remains a much sought after prize. Whilst it might not always be easy to find the winner, there’s usually plenty of each way value in the betting, with plenty of high odds winners in the past.
Ascot Day Three
This event gives the youngsters their chance to shine. Granted Group 2 status in 2006, the Norfolk Stakes is a contest for two-years-olds and is run over the minimum 5f trip. Lester Piggott demonstrated his sprint race mastery in taking this race nine times over a 31 year period.
This Group 2 is restricted to three-year-old fillies and is run over the Oaks trip of 1m4f. As such the Ribblesdale Stakes attracts fillies that have run in the Epsom Classic with runners often going on to compete in the Irish Oaks. Frankie Dettori has proven particularly effective in this race with six wins between 1995 and 2010 so keep an eye on the odds of whatever he’s riding.
Part of British flat racing’s triple-crown for stayers, this 2m4f test of endurance is the race connections of the top long distance horses all want to win. Aiden O’Brien won the Ascot Gold Cup six times between the years of 2006 and 2014 largely thanks to the exploits of Yeats, whose four consecutive victories between 2006 and 2009 mark him out as perhaps the greatest stayer of them all. The longevity of the older staying horses results in many repeat attempts at this race enabling horses to garner a place in the public affections. A new Gold Cup is created each year in order that owners may keep this special prize.
The King Edward VII Stakes
The original title of this race gives a clue to its conditions. Originally known as the Ascot Derby, the King Edward VII Stakes is a Group 2 contest is for three-year-old colts and geldings and is run over a trip of 1m4f. Not as prestigious as the Epsom Classic it does attract some runners to have taken part in that early June event and is always a fascinating betting opportunity.
Established in 1840 to honour the coronation of Queen Victoria, the Coronation Stakes is the fillies’ version of the St James’s Palace Stakes. Also elevated to Group 1 status in 1988 it regularly attracts runners from the English, Irish and French 1000 Guineas. Other than the fillies’ Classics this race is prized over any other, not just due to the prize money on offer but also the significant increase in breeding value bestowed upon the winner. Crimplene, Russian Ryhthm and Ghanaati are just three of the classy winners in the race’s history.
2015 sees a new Group 1 race added to the Royal Ascot menu with the Commonwealth Cup, a 6 furlong sprint restricted to three-year-olds. Previously the top young sprinters would have aimed to conquer their elders in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes but this is no longer an option with the latter race being restricted to four-year-olds and over from 2015. Three-year-olds have a decent record in the Diamond Jubilee but this is nevertheless a welcome addition to the top level sprinting calendar.
Royal Ascot Day Five
The Hardwicke Stakes is a Group 2 contest that is a useful trial for the coveted King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes which is run at the track in July. Many trainers have sent some pretty smart performers to this race over the years, not least Sir Michael Stoute who saddled the winner eight times between the years of 1986 and 2014 – keep your eyes on the odds of his runners if you fancy a bet!
Diamond Jubilee Stakes
The eighth and final Group 1 of a fabulous week at Royal Ascot is the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, a fabulously exciting six furlong event. 2015 sees a change in the conditions of this race which has been run at the track since 1868. Run as an all aged contest throughout its history, the three-year-olds are no longer permitted to enter as they now have the Commonwealth Cup to contest. Formerly known as first the Cork and Orrery and then the Golden Jubilee, it gained its current moniker in 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Choisir completed a famous Royal Ascot double in this race in 2003, whilst fellow Australian Black Caviar took this prize during her 25-race unbeaten career. Lester Piggott won this race an incredible nine times.
Now over 200 years old this handicap event, the Wokingham Stakes is another six furlong dash and is named after a local market town and has always been a popular target amongst trainers eager to achieve a winner at the Royal Ascot Festival. The handicap nature of the race levels the playing field somewhat between the bigger and smaller yards with many horses being specifically targeted at this race.