Royal Ascot: One of racing’s top traditions

Tony's Trends: Tips from East Yorkshire racing pundit Tony McCormick
Tony's Trends: Tips from East Yorkshire racing pundit Tony McCormick

We should be bang in the middle of Royal Ascot, as you read this. It’s amazing to think, that the meeting was held on the Knavesmire in 2005, while the Berkshire course underwent a £200million facelift.

There are only a handful of sporting traditions that can compare to the rich heritage and historical past of Ascot Racecourse. Within the last 300 years Royal Ascot has proven itself as a national institution and the cornerstone of the British social calendar as well as being the ultimate backdrop for the very best racehorses in the world.

It was Queen Anne who first saw the potential for a racecourse at Ascot, which in those days was also known as East Cote. While out horseback riding in 1711, she came upon a section of open heath, not far from Windsor Castle, that seemed a perfect place for horses to gallop and bound along at full speed.

The original race meeting to take place at Ascot occurred on Saturday 11 August 1711. Her Majesty’s Plate, valued at 100 guineas and accessible to any horse, mare or gelding above the age of six, was the inaugural event. Each horse was forced to handle a quantity of weight of 12st.

This battle bore little likeness to racing seen at Ascot today. The race comprised of three separate heats which were four miles long, each leg was about the extent of the Grand National course, so the winner would have been a horse with significant robustness.

Nowadays the practice does not change – the Queen Anne Stakes continues to be run in memory of the queen who founded the course almost three centuries ago.

The Gold Cup remains the primary race of the third day of Royal Ascot and is generally expected to be the busiest day.

Estimate runs, hoping to retain his crown won 12 months ago for Her Majesty The Queen, when holding off the Willie Mullins trained Simeon, who is another who holds an entry.

Aiden O’Brien trains the favourite, Leading Light, who won at the meeting last year. O’Brien trained the legendary Yeats to four Gold Cup wins. German raider Altano is worth noting. Beaten 3 3⁄4L in The Gold Cup last year on firm ground he dislikes, the Galileo gelding will get ground to his liking this time round.

He won the 139k, Group 1, Prix Du Cadran over this distance at Longchamp in October and can grab a place, at a double figure price here.

In Friday’s Queens Vase, Aiden O’Brien runners with an SP up to 7/1 and with no more than five career starts have won this race three times from six qualifiers. The master trainer currently has four entries, all by Montjeu, who sired last year’s winner Leading Light.