The most anticipated meeting of the Flat racing season gets underway on Tuesday for the first of five days of Royal Ascot 2014.
Quality races are guaranteed as the Queen Anne Stakes starts things off, before the Queen Alexandra Stakes eventually closes out proceedings on Saturday afternoon.
There is at least one Group 1 race on each day of the meeting, a measure of the immense quality on show, while the usual big handicap races are a lottery for riders and punters alike.
Read on for a full schedule and preview of five days of fantastic racing in Berkshire where more than 250,000 spectators will travel to take part in the pomp, the ceremony and the drama.
|June 17||2:30 p.m.||Queen Anne Stakes|
|June 17||3:05 p.m.||King’s Stand Stakes|
|June 17||3:45 p.m.||St James’s Palace Stakes|
|June 17||4:25 p.m.||Coventry Stakes|
|June 17||5 p.m.||Ascot Stakes|
|June 17||5:35 p.m.||Windsor Castle Stakes|
|June 18||2:30 p.m.||Jersey Stakes|
|June 18||3:05 p.m.||Windsor Forest Stakes|
|June 18||3:45 p.m.||Prince of Wales’s Stakes|
|June 18||4:25 p.m.||Royal Hunt Cup|
|June 18||5 p.m.||Queen Mary Stakes|
|June 18||5:35 p.m.||Sandringham Stakes|
|June 19||2:30 p.m.||Norfolk Stakes|
|June 19||3:05 p.m.||Ribblesdale Stakes|
|June 19||3:45 p.m.||Gold Cup|
|June 19||4:25 p.m.||Britannia Stakes|
|June 19||5 p.m.||Tercentenary Stakes|
|June 19||5:35 p.m.||King George V Stakes|
|June 20||2:30 p.m.||Albany Stakes|
|June 20||3:05 p.m.||King Edward VII Stakes|
|June 20||3:45 p.m.||Coronation Stakes|
|June 20||4:25 p.m.||Wolferton Rated Stakes|
|June 20||5 p.m.||Queen’s Vase|
|June 20||5:35 p.m.||Buckingham Palace Stakes|
|June 21||2:30 p.m.||Chesham Stakes|
|June 21||3:05 p.m.||Hardwicke Stakes|
|June 21||3:45 p.m.||Golden Jubilee Stakes|
|June 21||4:25 p.m.||Wokingham Stakes|
|June 21||5 p.m.||Duke of Edinburgh Stakes|
|June 21||5:35 p.m.||Queen Alexandra Stakes|
Consistent Quality Across the Week
The opening day of racing is all about the St James's Palace Stakes, featuring a rematch of last month's 2000 Guineas, which saw Kingman beaten into second place by Night Of Thunder.
Kingman went on to win the Irish 2000 Guineas, but the renewing of this particular rivalry is a tasty day-one clash and Coral's David Stevens' pick of the whole week:
Am looking forward to this race more than any other next week St James's Palace @coral bet Evs Kingman 2 Night Of Thunder 7 Toormore 10 Bar— David Stevens (@Pompey_Dave) June 11, 2014
Elsewhere on Tuesday the opening race will obviously be highly anticipated, and the Richard Hannon-trained Toronado leads the field for the curtain-raiser in 2014.
Day 2 sees the running of the Prince of Wales's Stakes in the headline slot. The 1m 2f Group 1 race sees eight declared with France's Treve making her British debut and hotly tipped to triumph, per the Racing Post:
Treve stars as eight declared for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on Wednesday. Magician, Mukhadram, The Fugue & Dank also in— Racing Post (@RacingPost) June 16, 2014
The Royal Hunt Cup should also be an attraction on Wednesday, the quite massive field meaning long odds are available for many of the runners in the one-miler.
Thursday is Gold Cup day, the headline race of the entire meeting. Last year's winner, Estimate—trained by Sir Michael Stoute and owned by the Queen—will be looking to repeat the trick but faces a stern test having raced only once since that win, per Cornelius Lysaght on BBC Sport.
Last year's St Leger winner, Leading Light, and Brown Panther are currently tipped to beat Estimate, but it is sure to be a race of the highest quality.
The only Group 1 race on Friday is the Coronation Stakes, but it is one of the week's most open encounters with various fillies in with a chance, including My Titania, Veda and English and Irish 1,000 Guineas runner-up Lightning Thunder.
Finally, Saturday closes the meeting with some cracking racing, including the frantic six-furlong sprint, the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
A large field makes for quite a spectacle and the possibility of a long-odds winner—last year 11-1 shot Lethal Force took the victory. The favourites for this year's race include Slade Power, Aljamaaheer and Gordon Lord Byron.
Royal Ascot 2014 provides five days of racing and 30 high-quality encounters that should bring out the usual thrills and upsets, elation and disappointment for trainers, jockeys, owners and punters alike.
Arguably the greatest Flat meeting in the world, Ascot never disappoints, and this year will be no different.