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Royal Ascot tips: Analysing the biggest races

| 20.06.2023

The stage is set for five days of spectacular Flat racing when Royal Ascot gets underway on June 20.

Started in the 18th century, Ascot’s premier meeting is steeped in tradition, with the Royal Procession preceding the first of seven races on each day.

We have studied results from the biggest races over the past decade to highlight some key trends ahead of the latest renewal in our Royal Ascot tips.

When are the big races?

There is a total of 35 races spread over Royal Ascot’s five days, with upwards of £7million of prize money on offer.

The week kicks off with the Group One Queen Anne Stakes on Tuesday, with two further Group One races – the King’s Stand Stakes and the St James’s Palace Stakes – scheduled for the opening day.

The Prince of Wales’s Stakes is the highlight of Wednesday’s action, while Thursday’s main event is the Ascot Gold Cup.

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Friday sees the best horses compete in the Group One Commonwealth Cup and Coronation Stakes, before the week is rounded off by the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes on Saturday.

As well as being the oldest and arguably most prestigious race, Thursday’s Gold Cup is comfortably the longest at two miles and four furlongs. The other seven Group One races are run over one-and-a-quarter miles or less, with the King’s Stand Stakes measuring the shortest at just five furlongs.

How do the favourites perform?

Royal Ascot attracts the world’s best racehorses and as such the Group One races tend to be stacked with talent.

It is rare for the shortest priced runners to miss out on being placed, with 67 per cent of horses backed at 4/1 or less going on to finish in the top three. Over the past decade, the likelihood of such a finish has diminished in line with pre-race odds, with only 10 of the 216 entries (5 per cent) priced at 40/1 or longer managing to place.

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Since 2013, 33 of the 78 Royal Ascot Group One races have been won by the favourite or the joint-favourite. This includes seven wins in the Gold Cup, which saw Kyprios triumph at 13/8 last year and Stradivarius win three times in a row between 2018 and 2020 when priced as favourite or joint-favourite.

The Queen Anne and St James’s Palace Stakes have both seen the favourite win on six occasions, including in 2022 when Baaeed and Coroebus saw off their competition as expected.

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Victories for runners priced outside the top three favourites have been few and far between, with Naval Crown’s win at 33/1 in the Jubilee Stakes being the sole exception in 2022.

The Saturday showpiece has generally proved more unpredictable than its predecessors, with three of the previous 10 winners having been priced in double-digits before the race.

Who has the best record?

The retiring Frankie Dettori will be forever associated with Ascot following his ‘Magnificent Seven’ in September 1996. The charismatic Italian shot to superstardom by riding all seven winners in a single day at combined odds of more than 25,000/1.

His love affair with the course has endured over the years, with his last 10 Royal Ascots yielding 26 top-three finishes in Grade One races, out of a possible 51. This represents the second-best record of any jockey with more than six equivalent entries, behind only Christophe Soumillon, who has managed eight top threes from 15 starts.

Both men took home elite-level trophies last year, with Soumillon winning the Commonwealth Cup aboard Perfect Power and Dettori taking the Coronation Stakes on Inspiral.

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Among trainers, Ireland’s Jessica Harrington – who normally specialises in jump racing – has enjoyed success on the Flat at Royal Ascot, with five of her seven runners since 2013 having finished in the first three. This includes a pair of victories in the Coronation Stakes with Alpha Centauri in 2018 and Alpine Star in 2020.

Harrington’s is the only active stable with a 50 per cent-plus success rate, with Sir Michael Stoute and Wesley Ward falling just short on 46 per cent.

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In terms of sheer volume, Aidan O’Brien comes out on top with 11 wins and 26 further podiums from 106 runners. O’Brien has trained at least one winner in all but one of Royal Ascot’s Grade One races, with only the King’s Stand Stakes proving elusive.

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Tony Kelshaw