Royal Ascot is seen by many as the biggest week in the flat racing calendar, 300,000 racegoers regularly flock to Berkshire for their five-day meeting – which sees the best races run over distances ranging from five furlongs to over two and a half miles.
Royal Ascot is relatively unique in having a global appeal amongst racing fans, and with over £8 million in prize money to compete for, it often attracts runners and trainers from around the world. This year’s meeting starts on June 15th, and concludes on June 19th, with 36 races scheduled over that period – including no fewer than eight Group 1 contests.
And although there might be more valuable meetings, none is as fashionable as Royal Ascot, which is set to feature some of its usual glitz and glamour this year after a subdued five days behind closed doors in 2020 as Palace Pier, Battaash and Stradivarius could be among the headline acts.
The track received good news after it was announced a crowd of 12,000 will be able to attend each day as it was selected as one of the government’s pilot events for June.
For those lucky enough to attend, traditional morning dress is mandatory for men in the Royal Enclosure, where formal daywear for women is required.
Things are slightly more relaxed in the Queen Anne Enclosure, but men must wear a collared shirt and tie with a full-length suit, while women should dress “in a manner as befits a formal occasion”.
Ahead of next week, some of the leading bookmakers have revealed their biggest liabilities.
Barry Orr: “The ever-improving Lady Bowthorpe in the Duke of Cambridge (3,40, Wednesday) is one of our biggest liabilities on the Sportsbook. Her second to Palace Pier in the Lockinge marked her out as a Royal Ascot hottie. She is 9-4 favourite and is sure to go off short.
“On the Exchange, there’s been £7k matched in the Queen Anne (2.30, Tuesday) and £6k of it is on Palace Pier. From a high of 3.2 (9-4) for £110 to his current price of 1.53 (8-15).”
David Stevens: “As always ahead of these big meetings, our ante-post positions will be dwarfed by the money we take each day, but as things stand three horses catch the eye. We went 6-4 about Palace Pier for the Queen Anne (2.30, Tuesday) immediately following his Lockinge win, and his odds have contracted all the way down to the current 1-2, with many punters clearly regarding him as the banker of the week.”
Elsewhere, his stablemate Lord North has been popular for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (4.20, Wednesday) and is favourite to win the race again, while Kaufymaker has been a recent market mover for the Coventry Stakes (3.05, Tuesday) following an upbeat report from trainer Wesley Ward, and is now the clear 4-1 market leader, having been installed in the betting at 8-1.”
Nicola McGeady: “The biggest liability is Tim Easterby’s Winter Power in the King’s Stand Stakes (3.40, Tuesday). After winning at York last month, he’s been subject to plenty of support and is one we could do with getting turned over.
“Punters haven’t forgotten how impressive Subjectivist was in the Dubai Gold Cup and have sided with him over Royal Ascot hero Stradivarius in the Gold Cup (4.20, Thursday).
“Further down the list in the Wokingham betting is Bielsa (5.00, Saturday). At 14-1 there is plenty to like about him and punters reckon Kevin Ryan can land the Wokingham again.”
Paul Binfield: “Supremacy in the Commonwealth Cup (3.40, Friday) is currently our biggest Royal Ascot loser despite a disappointing comeback in the Pavilion Stakes at the same venue in April.
“However, it’s fair to say that punters seem to be forgiving him that performance and an impressive victory in the Richmond Stakes and an extremely game success in the top-class Middle Park Stakes as a two-year-old would appear to give him every chance next week.”
Michael Shinners: “Stradivarius (4.20, Ascot) is a standing dish at the royal meeting and the combination of Dettori and Gosden has proved very popular with our customers. Immediately after last year’s race he was 4-1 and was slightly bigger again after his defeat on Champions Day, but after success at his beloved Ascot in the Sagaro Stakes he is now trading at around even money.
“Battaash (3.40, Tuesday) is another whose price has contracted over the past few months. He was 4-1 with ourselves back in April and is now 15-8, which is still proving appealing to punters and Flotus (2.30, Friday) was introduced into the Albany betting at 5-1 after bolting up at Goodwood last month. She has been extremely popular and is easily the best-backed horse in the two-year-old races.”