Royal Ascot 2013: Dates, Race Schedule, TV Coverage, Preview and More

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Royal Ascot 2013: Dates, Race Schedule, TV Coverage, Preview and More
Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Royal Ascot 2013 is always a spectacle to behold, not only in terms of horse racing, but also for the cultural significance it encompasses in the United Kingdom.

While there are plenty of marquee horse races at Ascot Racecourse, it is also the site of the annual Royal Meeting in the third week of June. Various members of the British Royal Family will be in attendance, and Tuesday's action will kick off with the Royal Procession.

As for the racing portion of this massive event, the Queen Anne Stakes will be the first one at Ascot, featuring 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom as the prohibitive favorite.

There are a total of 30 races over the course of five days, and many of them promise to be thrilling. Below is a look at the dates, race schedule and a brief overview of the top horses in the most notable races in Berkshire, England.

Note: Background information was obtained from Ascot's official website. Unless otherwise indicated, history of horses is courtesy of Equibase.com.

 

When: Tuesday, June 18 to Saturday, June 22

Where: Ascot Racecourse in Ascot, Berkshire, England

TV: Channel 4 (UK)

Listen: BBC 5 Radio Live

 

Day 1 Schedule

Race Post Time (ET)
Queen Anne Stakes 9:30 a.m.
King's Stand Stakes 10:05 a.m.
St. James' Palace Stakes 10:45 a.m.
Coventry Stakes 11:25 a.m.
Ascot Stakes 12:00 p.m.
Windsor Castle Stakes 12:35 p.m.

 

Day 2 Schedule

Race Post Time (ET)
Jersey Stakes 9:30 a.m.
Duke of Cambridge Stakes 10:05 a.m.
Prince of Wales' Stakes 10:45 a.m.
Royal Hunt Cup 11:25 a.m.
Queen Mary Stakes
12:00 p.m.
Sandringham Handicap
12:35 p.m.

 

Day 3 Schedule

Race Post Time (ET)
Norfolk Stakes 9:30 a.m.
Ribblesdale Stakes 10:05 a.m.
Gold Cup 10:45 a.m.
Britannia Stakes 11:25 a.m.
Tercentenary Stakes 12:00 p.m.
King George V Stakes 12:35 p.m.

 

Day 4 Schedule

Race Post Time (ET)
Albany Stakes 9:30 a.m.
King Edward VII Stakes 10:05 a.m.
Coronation Stakes 10:45 a.m.
Wolferton Handicap
11:25 a.m.
The Queen's Vase
12:00 p.m.
Buckingham Palace Stakes 12:35 p.m.

 

Day 5 Schedule

Race Post Time (ET)
Chesham Stakes 9:30 a.m.
Hardwicke Stakes 10:05 a.m.
Diamond Jubilee Stakes 10:45 a.m.
Wokingham Stakes 11:25 a.m.
Duke of Edinburgh Stakes 12:00 p.m.
Queen Alexandra Stakes 12:35 p.m.

 

Top Horses to Watch

Animal Kingdom (Queen Anne Stakes)

John Velazquez rode Animal Kingdom to victory in the 2011 Kentucky Derby, then finished as the runner-up at the Preakness Stakes before the horse stumbled out of the gate and had a career-worst sixth-place effort at the Belmont.

Animal Kingdom is the clear-cut, even-money favorite, according to Horse Racing Nation's odds. This Grade 1 race is lacking any significantly threatening competitors to challenge this perennial champion thoroughbred.

The versatility of Animal Kingdom is matched by few in horse racing history, as he's won on the dirt of Churchill Downs and the all-weather track at his most recent triumph this year in the Dubai World Cup.

As Myra Lewyn of BloodHorse.com documents, Ascot's Nick Smith made an appropriate cross-sports analogy to describe Animal Kingdom's prowess:

"It is completely unique," said Smith. "It's a bit like a tennis player trying to win on every surface. What his connections are trying here is really brave, and tremendous for the event."

This chase for history is easily the biggest storyline in the race that will open the Royal Ascot meeting. It wouldn't be surprising to see Animal Kingdom run away to the winner's circle, but getting past Grade 1 winner Elusive Kate and the O'Briens' Declaration Of War should provide a challenge.

 

Dawn Approach (St. James' Palace Stakes)

Which top horse is likeliest to disappoint?

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The main attraction on the first day will be St. James' Palace Stakes, and all eyes will be on Dawn Approach, who will be mounted by Kevin Manning.

Dawn Approach was thought to be a threat for the British Triple Crown after winning the 2,000 Guineas Stakes at Rowley Mile, but he fell flat in the Epsom Derby, finishing dead last in the field of 12 horses.

However, in the one-mile race of the 2,000 Guineas, this horse showed he had the ability to close out a race in stirring fashion with a stunning push to the finish. Considering he had a successful career to that point, Epsom should be considered more of an aberration.

Chris Cook of The Guardian reports that trainer Jim Bolger can't quite figure out what happened in the last outing, but Horse Racing Nation still has Dawn Approach as an 8-5 favorite in this race.

The St. James' Palace Stakes provides a shot at redemption for Dawn Approach and Manning after falling woefully short of the Triple Crown, and don't be surprised if this is a wire-to-wire, bounce-back performance.


Rite Of Passage (Gold Cup)

Colour Vision is attempting to defend his title, yet it won't be enough against the determined Right Of Passage.

After a two-year hiatus from this race, the 2010 Gold Cup champion is returning in a bid to join the ranks of the few multiple winners in history.

Rite of Passage's last race was in the British Champions Long Distance Cup, which is Grade III, but he still won after not having competed for 510 days. Only after his breakthrough in the Gold Cup did he lose his only race, finishing third in the Saval Beg Stakes.

It's going to be a convoluted field projected at 19 (h/t horse-racing.co.uk), but the last showing in particular bodes well for Rite of Passage to emerge victorious again.

The fact that this veteran horse still had the grit to edge out his closest competitor by a nose shows that the fire is still there—and that this horse still has plenty left in the tank even after a very successful career to date.

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