Looking ahead to Royal Ascot

It might still be more than a month away, but Royal Ascot is a racing festival that we can’t start talking about too soon. It is the one event of the year that Her Majesty the Queen simply refuses to miss, although two years ago, she was on a tight schedule, rushing to the track and making it in time for the first race, despite having attended the State Opening of Parliament and checked in on husband, Prince Philip, who was, at the time, in hospital.

Her Majesty will be back at the famous track again this year – she has still not missed a day’s racing at Ascot in the 65 years since her coronation. If you are thinking of joining her at the most famous event on the calendar, and perhaps following her lead and laying down a wager or two at one of the horse racing betting sites, here’s all you need to know about the event.

When and where?

Royal Ascot is a five-day festival that takes place at the famous Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire. Located just six miles from Windsor Castle, the association with the Royal Family is unsurprising and goes back generations. In fact, the racecourse was officially opened by Queen Anne in 1711. Royal Ascot has been the main event at Ascot every year since, and this year, it will take place from 18 to 22 June.

Which are the big races?

Like every racing festival, each day has its own theme and has a headline race and a number of support races. These include the Queen Anne stakes on opening day, the Prince of Wales stakes on Wednesday, the Gold Cup on Thursday, the Coronation Stakes and the Commonwealth Cup on Friday and then the big crescendo, the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on the final day.

What happened last year?

Before racing had even got underway, there was high drama last year, as crowds were excited to see The Queen accompanied by her grandson Prince Harry and his new bride Meghan. Accidental Agent got things off to a dramatic start on the track, coming in the surprise 33/1 winner in the Queen Anne Stakes.

Other highlights included Frankie Dettori’s emotional win on Stradivarius in the Gold Cup. Incredibly, this was the veteran jockey’s 60th win at Royal Ascot, and he celebrated it with some light-hearted by play with Harry and Meghan.

Last year’s event was brought to a satisfactory conclusion by the ever-popular Aidan O’Brien’s Merchant Navy romping home the 4/1 victor in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

Who to back this year?

The full list of runners and riders is yet to be announced, so it is worth keeping a close eye on the racing press for up to the minute news and tips. However, Stradivarius is the early favourite to successfully defend the Gold Cup at 2/1, while Sea of Class, Enable and Magical will lead a classy field in the Prince of Wales stakes, and bookmakers are currently unable to pick out a favourite from the three of them.