2016 Royal Ascot Overview: complete race order & when to watch
Add in Wesley Ward’s dynamic duo of Acapulco and Undrafted, both back to add to their tally from last year, along with a battalion of juveniles; Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) hero Mongolian Saturday, off on another international venture; and Graham Motion sends Miss Temple City over for another try.
My colleague Vance Hanson and I will be tag-teaming to produce Brisnet.com Daily Selections for the Group action every day of Royal Ascot, Tuesday through Saturday.
As an appetizer, here’s your overview of the meet that has something for everyone.
Tepin contests the very first race of the meeting, Tuesday’s Queen Anne (G1). Mongolian Saturday is also in action opening day in the King’s Stand (G1), but Acapulco has since been scratched due to concerns about rain-softened ground. Ward sends out Silvertoni against the boys in the Coventry (G2), and the Windsor Castle Stakes has a pair of American interests in Ward’s Big City Dreamin and Eoin Harty’s Drafted.
Miss Temple City lines up on Wednesday in the Duke of Cambridge (G2), while Ward’s well-regarded Lady Aurelia runs one race earlier in the Queen Mary (G2). Ward has Red Lodge set for Thursday’s Norfolk (G2) and Create a Dream in Friday’s Albany (G3). Acapulco still has the option of running in Friday’s Commonwealth Cup (G1). On Saturday’s finale, Undrafted defends his title in the Diamond Jubilee (G1), where Mongolian Saturday also holds an early entry.
With the recent rain, and drizzly forecast for the rest of the week, Royal Ascot 2016 is unfortunately becoming a soggy one. Clerk of the Course Chris Stickels gave the gloomy update Sunday that good ground is “very unlikely” at the meet. It’s already good-to-soft on the straight course, with a probability of turning soft under the persistent rain. That’s going to complicate an already difficult handicapping conundrum, and make like tougher for most of Team USA.
While always high in prestige, Royal Ascot is offering more tangible enhancements. Purses have been increased to a record £6.58 million in total – at least £1 million per day.
The meet’s richest race, Wednesday’s Prince of Wales’s (G1) highlighted by Japan's A Shin Hikari, has received a boost from £525,000 to £750,000. The opening Queen Anne on Tuesday, formerly worth £375,000, has been bumped significantly to £600,000. The feature on Saturday’s finale, the Diamond Jubilee, also brandishes £600,000 in prize money, but was given a relatively smaller increase from £525,000. Most races have been enriched, notably the other Group 1s which each carry a purse of £400,000 for 2016.
Although the Royal presence is always highlighted at the meeting, this year’s event marks a milestone celebration for Queen Elizabeth II. The marquee race on Thursday, the Ascot Gold Cup (G1), has accordingly been renamed “The Gold Cup in honour of The Queen’s 90th Birthday.”
Aidan O’Brien has ranked as Royal Ascot’s champion trainer six times since the turn of the millennium, and three of the last five years. Sir Michael Stoute, also a six-time champion at the meet, has amassed by far the most wins of any active trainer (73). He’s only two behind the all-time record of 75 held by the late Sir Henry Cecil. Next on the active list come O’Brien (48), John Gosden and Mark Johnston (39 each), and Saeed bin Suroor (35).
Ryan Moore has been dominant among jockeys, taking the Royal Ascot riding title five of the past six years. In 2015, he set the post-war record of nine wins at the Royal meeting, bringing up his career total to 36. Moore is second only to Frankie Dettori (52) on the list of active riders. Kieren Fallon (30) and Jamie Spencer (21) are the other near pursuers still in the saddle.
Here’s the outline for the five-day meeting, with post times (all EDT):
9:30 a.m. (EDT) – Tepin kicks off the meeting in the Queen Anne (G1) for older horses down the straight mile course.
10:05 a.m. - The Coventry (G2), the meet’s premier event for 2-year-olds at six furlongs.
10:40 a.m. – Mongolian Saturday competes in the King’s Stand (G1), a five-furlong scramble for 3-and-up sprinters.
11:20 a.m. - The St James’s Palace (G1) for 3-year-old milers on the round course.
12 p.m. – The Ascot Stakes, a 2 1/2-mile handicap for older horses rated up to 100.
12:35 p.m. – The Windsor Castle, a listed stakes over five furlongs for 2-year-olds.
9:30 a.m. (EDT) – The Jersey (G3) for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.
10:05 a.m. – The Queen Mary (G2) for the fastest 2-year-old fillies over five furlongs.
10:40 a.m. – Miss Temple City tries the Duke of Cambridge (G2), a straight one-mile test for older fillies and mares.
11:20 a.m. – The Prince of Wales’s (G1), the coveted 1 1/4-mile prize for older horses.
12 p.m. – The Royal Hunt Cup, a heritage handicap for 3-and-up down the straight mile.
12:35 p.m. – The Sandringham, another straight mile handicap, but holding listed stakes status for 3-year-old fillies with an official rating of 96-110
9:30 a.m. (EDT) – The Norfolk (G2), a five-furlong dash for 2-year-olds
10:05 a.m. – The Tercentenary (G3), a 1 1/4-mile affair for 3-year-olds
10:40 a.m. – The Ribblesdale (G2) for 3-year-old fillies over 1 1/2 miles
11:20 a.m. – The Gold Cup (G1), the premier contest for older stayers at 2 1/2 miles
12 p.m. – The Britannia, a heritage handicap going a straight mile for 3-year-old males rated up to 105
12:35 p.m. – The King George V, a 1 1/2-mile handicap for 3-year-olds rated up to 105
9:30 a.m. (EDT) – The Albany (G3), a six-furlong event for 2-year-old fillies
10:05 a.m. – The King Edward VII (G2) for 3-year-old males at 1 1/2 miles
10:40 a.m. – The Commonwealth Cup (G1) for 3-year-olds sprinting six furlongs
11:20 a.m. – The Coronation (G1) for 3-year-old fillies over the round mile
12 p.m. – The Duke of Edinburgh, a 1 1/2-mile handicap for 3-and-up rated up to 105
12:35 p.m. – The Queen’s Vase, a listed stakes for 3-year-old stayers going two miles
9:30 a.m. (EDT) – The Chesham, a seven-furlong test for 2-year-olds whose sires have won going at least 1 1/4 miles
10:05 a.m. – The Wolferton, a listed handicap over 1 1/4 miles for older horses rated 96-110
10:40 a.m. – The Hardwicke (G2) for older horses, a course-and-distance stepping stone to the 1 1/2-mile King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1) on July 23.
11:20 a.m. – Undrafted defends his title in the Diamond Jubilee (G1) for older sprinters at six furlongs.
12 p.m. – The Wokingham, a six-furlong heritage handicap for horses 3-and-up rated up to 110
12:35 p.m. – The Queen Alexandra for older marathoners going two miles, five furlongs and 159 yards
In addition to the Brisnet Daily Selections for best bets and detailed information, stay tuned to the TwinSpires blog for Royal Ascot news and notes throughout the week.
Tepin photo copyright and courtesy of Breeders' Cup Ltd.