Royal Ascot week is upon us, with thousands of people descending on the Ascot racecourse to witness Europe's oldest and most storied horse racing event.
Sometimes considered to be more of a social event, the Royal Ascot brings the finest horses in British flat horse racing together for a week of non-stop action in the shadow of Windsor Castle.
With more than £5,000,000 in prize money, Ascot's status as the high point of the European racing calendar is well-deserved.
Day 5 Recap
The final day of racing at Royal Ascot saw a powerful performance in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. There was also a dominant showing by the winner of the earlier Hardwicke Stakes.
The major difference between the final day and events on Day 4 is that favourite backers were rewarded. That was certainly the case when Slade Power strode ahead of the pack in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
The hugely impressive run was captured nicely on the Racing Post Twitter feed:
Backed at 7-2, Slade Power won at a canter with Wayne Lordan in the saddle. After the race, Lordan applauded his horse's speed, per AtTheRaces.com: "He travelled real well, I got there a little bit soon and he rolled around with me, but I had plenty left and I'm delighted."
Earlier an even more commanding performance was produced during the Hardwicke Stakes. Telescope powered home with significant room to spare.
Images of this majestic horse striding to victory were provided courtesy of more superb shots from the Racing Post:
For many, this winning run was rare evidence of Telescope's undoubted talent and potential, per SportingLife.com:
The much-hyped colt, a fancy for the 2013 Derby, had struggled to live up to expectations, but judged on the manner of his wide-margin victory he may still have a very bright future at the top level.
Sent off 7/4 favourite, the four-year-old bounded seven lengths clear of stable companion Hillstar, who had struggled to get a clear run but would surely never have been able to challenge the impressive winner, completing a double for Stoute and jockey Ryan Moore on the day.
There's no denying Telescope is a mercurial horse. Given his temperamental past form it will take a brave punter to bet on him delivering another performance of this calibre at future big meetings.
The awe-inspiring showing from the 7-4 favourite was part of a solid day for fancied horses at Newmarket. Of the six races, three favourites rewarded the form guide.
However there were a few intriguing blips for favourites elsewhere. One such moment came in the Chesham Stakes.
That's where Richard Pankhurst upset 15-8 favourite Dick Whittington. Pankhurst's win was a rare reward for daring betting:
Pankhurst's victory might have made a few punters nervous. It could have been taken as a signal for Day 4's reverse of form, when none of the favourites came in.
Thankfully, for favourites backers, order was restored in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes. The favourite at 11-4, Arab Spring, outlasted the field.
But the real excitement in the race had been provided by 25-1 outsider Salutation, who roused the hopes of every risk-taker on the course. In the end Salutation came in second after a brave effort:
Slade Power and Telescope may dominate the headlines from Ascot's final day, but the card also featured good wins for Baccarat and Pique Sous. The former triumphed in the Wokingham Stakes, while the latter came through to win the Queen Alexandra Stakes.
Here's the full list of winners and payouts from the final day:
|2014 Royal Ascot Final Day Winners|
|Chesham Stakes||Richard Pankhurst||10-1||£12.10|
|Duke of Edinburgh Stakes||Arab Spring||11-4 f||£4.10|
|Hardwicke Stakes||Telescope||7-4 f||£2.50|
|Diamond Jubilee Stakes||Slade Power||7-2 f||£4.20|
|Queen Alexandra Stakes||Pique Sous||11-4||£3.30|
The money was split evenly between favourite backers and those tempted to cast a wider net. Pankhurst offered a good reward, while the favourites rewarded their trainers and owners, who can now start thinking about forthcoming lucrative meetings such as July's Gold Cup.
Day 4 Recap
The fourth day of Royal Ascot was headlined by the Coronation Stakes. It turned out to be a special race, one marked by the return to form of Rizeena.
The graceful filly had too much power in reserve for early pacesetter My Tatiana. In the end, Rizeena's natural quickness outlasted the field.
But the win was not without its difficulty, as winning jockey Ryan Moore pointed out, per AtTheRaces.com:
There was no pace, it was a crawl, it was ridiculous really. We went quicker to the start than we did for the first quarter-mile. She doesn't want to be in front that early, but my hand was kind of forced. It was a long way that last furlong, but she was the fastest horse in the race and she's just done enough.
One other notable event during the Coronation occurred when Kieren Fallon fell form Rosalind, when barely out of the stalls. The incident ended Fallon's day at Newmarket:
Rizeena wasn't the only horse wowing the crowds on Day 4. Here are the full results, courtesy of SportingLife.com:
|2014 Royal Ascot Day 4 Winners|
|The Albany Stakes||Cursory Glance||14-1||£20.00|
|The King Edward VII Stakes||Eagle-Top||12-1||£15.10|
|The Coronation Stakes||Rizeena||11-2||£7.20|
|The Wolferton Rated Stakes||Contributer||9-1||£10.10|
|The Queen's Vase||Hartnell||7-2||£4.60|
|The Buckingham Palace Stakes (Handicap)||Louis The Pious||33-1||£35.20|
As the results table shows, Day 4 was not a good one for favourite backers. Not one went in from any of the six races.
Eagle Top rewarded brave betting by upsetting the odds. In the process, Eagle Top trounced clear favourite Adelaide, no doubt ruining the day for many who had made a wager.
Jockey William Buick showed off Eagle Top's long stride to leave Aidan O'Brien's more fancied horse hopelessly trailing.
However, the true highlight was provided in the Buckingham Palace Stakes. That's where Louis The Pious powered ahead of a crowded field for a shock win.
He had a length to spare, before a frantic finish. But the horse had just enough energy to pip 8-1 Horsted Keynes to the post. Jockey Silvestre De Sousa maintained a steady pace throughout the race.
It was that consistency that ultimately outpaced the competition, as Louis The Pious became stronger furlong after furlong.
There's just one day left at Royal Ascot. But don't count on Saturday's races providing as many surprises as Day 4's winners.
Day 3 Recap
Thursday was Gold Cup day at Royal Ascot 2014, and it did not disappoint as Leading Light won a thrilling headliner on Day 3.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained horse was the well-backed favourite coming into the race but was pushed all the way to win by a neck to last year's Queen-owned winner Estimate ridden by Ryan Moore.
Most of the running was made in the race by 40-1 shot Missunited who stayed on well to finish third. It was jockey Joseph O'Brien's first Gold Cup win and his father's sixth as a trainer.
The 21-year-old rode an excellent race on Leading Light and prevailed in a thrilling encounter, per BBC Sport:
When you win it is always a good ride, there's no such thing as a bad winning ride. I kept a straight line, Ryan [Moore] was looking for a bit of room but I was entitled to keep a straight line. He had a little look when he got to the front and then went a bit to his left, he's a big, lazy horse but I think he's better at a mile and six.
He proved his worth over the two mile and four furlong race and made for many happy punters as he had been well fancied in the betting.
The O'Brien team had bagged a win earlier on Day 3 when Bracelet won the Ribblesdale Stakes, beating out the favourite Vazira in an impressive ride.
The much-touted Wonderstruck faded in the final furlong having looked good for a place early on, but did not seem to hit top gear.
|2014 Royal Ascot Day 3 Winners|
|Norfolk Stakes||Baitha Alga||8-1||£7.20|
|Tercentenary Stakes||Cannock Chase||7-4f||£2.60|
|Gold Cup||Leading Light||10-11f||£2.10|
|Britannia Stakes||Born In Bombay||14-1||£16.10|
|King George V Stakes||Elite Army||4-1jf||£5.20|
The day opened with the Norfolk Stakes and The Great War was the hotly tipped favourite to start the day with a bang.
However, it did not go as planned and Frankie Dettori rode to victory on Baitha Ailga, Mind of Madness finishing second and the O'Brien favourite failing in fifth, per BBC's Francis Keogh:
Elsewhere on Ladies' Day in Berkshire, Sir Michael Stoute-trained favourite Cannock Chase won well in the Tercentenary Stakes, the second race of the day.
Meanwhile 14-1 shot Born in Bombay beat off a huge field to claim the Britannia Stakes and Kieren Fallon rode Elite Army to victory in the King George V stakes.
Two days remain of Royal Ascot 2014 and much is anticipated for Friday and Saturday after some spectacular races on the opening days.
If the headline races to come can match the excitement of Thursday's God Cup then spectators should be in for a treat of flat racing.
For full results of every race, visit sportinglife.com
Day 2 Recap
Day 2 of the 2014 Royal Ascot was all about the Prince of Wales Stakes, with France's Treve finally showing what she can do against powerful international competition.
The filly struggled with Ascot's very quick ground, however, as course records continued to fall all day long. Via Racing Post, the ground was so fast event organisers decided to water the entire track ahead of the third day of racing:
As reported by Tony Paley The Guardian, two of the horses who raced on the first day of competition were put down, and BHA's Jenny Hall released a statement explained why:
[Case Statement] received immediate first aid on the course from racecourse veterinary surgeons before being transferred by horse ambulance to the veterinary assessment centre at the racecourse stables, where he was x-rayed.
The x-rays confirmed the colt had sustained a fracture of his near fore fetlock. Following full evaluation, the nature of the injury was such that sadly there was no other option but for the horse to be humanely put down.
[Sir Graham Wade] received immediate first aid on the course from racecourse veterinary surgeons. The vets diagnosed that he had suffered a serious pelvic fracture and that the nature of the injury was such that sadly there was no other option but for the gelding to be humanely put down.
Here is the full list of winners with their odds and payouts on Day 2 of the Royal Ascot:
|2014 Royal Ascot Day 2 Winners|
|Jersey Stakes||Mustajeeb||9-2 jf||£5.10|
|Queen Mary Stakes||Anthem Alexander||9-4 f||£3.20|
|Prince of Wales Stakes||The Fugue||11-2||£5.80|
|Duke of Cambridge Stakes||Integral||9-4 f||£3.30|
|Royal Hunt Cup||Field of Dream||20-1||£24|
Wednesday's first race was the Jersey Stakes, a clear win for joint-favourite Mustajeeb, beating out Muwaary by a length. Both horses are owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, once again confirming Qatari influence in European racing is ever rising.
Anthem Alexander was the favourite for the Queen Mary stakes, and as shared by At The Races, she justified that favouritism with a close win over Tiggy Wiggy:
The filly took the lead midway through the race and seemed to be on her way to an easy win, but a late challenge from Tiggy Wiggy had punters on the edge of their seats. The favourite held on, however, and the inexperienced horse displayed excellent character, according to jockey Pat Smullen, as he told Nick Pulford of Racingpost.com:
It's so tough, this is the biggest stage. We have to go through a lot of horses to get here and fortunately I was given the chance of riding her.
She's brave and very quick. She was a little bit sluggish away from the gate. The gap was closing up, so I had to take it, which was maybe even a little bit too soon for her.
She's still a little bit green, there's a lot of improvement in her. She could have given up if she was weak-minded but she's 100 per cent tough.
Then it was time for the Prince of Wales stakes, and a first chance for the British crowd to see highly touted filly Treve in action. A record time from The Fugue spoiled her debut, however, with Treve finishing third behind Magician.
Via Racing UK, trainer John Gosden has big plans for the filly:
The Fugue wasn't caught in traffic and displayed a tremendous burst in the final furlongs, and via At The Races, jockey William Buick told reporters she can do pretty much anything if the situation allows it:
Favourite Integral delivered in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, while Field of Dream built on excellent finishes in the last two editions to finally win the Royal Hunt Cup. The last race of the day went right to the wire, with favourite Muteela barely beating out Queen Catrine in the Sandringham Handicap.
Thursday's main attraction will be the 2014 Gold Cup, which will feature last year's two top finishers in Estimate and Simenon.
The Group 1 flat horse race is Britain's most important long-distance race, and with organisers deciding to water every inch of the Ascot course tonight, the two-mile four-furlong race looks like it could prove a very stern for all 15 racers set to start.
For full results of every race, visit sportinglife.com.
Day 1 Recap
The opening of Royal Ascot 2014 on Tuesday was billed as one of the best day's racing available anywhere in the world, containing as it did three Group 1 races.
It did not fail to deliver as some absolutely stunning rides illustrated the immense quality on show, and set up this year's meeting beautifully.
Proceedings began with the traditional royal procession, and all the pomp and ceremony that it entails, as the Queen rode in with first-timer Prince Harry.
However, there was controversy over the exact colour of the Queen's hat because of the betting markets available on that particular aspect of Ascot, per Kate Miller of William Hill:
Read on for a look at the full results and a recap of the Day 1 action in Berkshire.
|Royal Ascot 2014: Day 1 Winners|
|Queen Anne Stakes||Toronado||4-5 Fav||£1.80|
|Coventry Stakes||The Wow Signal||5-1 JF||£5.20|
|King's Stand Stakes||Sole Power||5-1||£6.80|
|St James's Palace Stakes||Kingman||8-11 Fav||£1.60|
|Windsor Castle Stakes||Hootenanny||7-2 Fav||£4.50|
The meeting kicked off with the Queen Anne Stakes and all the buzz was as to whether Toronado could find his best form having not raced since last August.
But favourite-backers need not have worried as Richard Hughes guided his Richard Hannon-trained mount to a convincing victory by three-quarters of a length to second-placed Verrazano.
The second race of the day saw the welcome return to the winner's enclosure of popular jockey Frankie Dettori who rode The Wow Signal to victory in the Coventry Stakes.
The Italian pushed his horse to the front and stayed on well to claim his 48th career win at Royal Ascot, but his first for some time, per the BBC's Francis Keogh:
It was a retaining job in the King's Stand Stakes as Sole Power won for the second year running and Hughes won his second race of the day.
The St James's Palace Stakes was billed as the headliner of the day, it being a re-running of the rivalry between Kingman and Night of Thunder.
The John Gosden-trained horse went out a very strong favourite and lived up to the hype as James Doyle came storming through in the latter stages to lead Kingman to a convincing victory.
Hughes had been attempting to make all the running on Night of Thunder but could do absolutely nothing as Kingman came whistling through to win.
The Ascot Stakes was won by 12-1 shot Domination giving jockey Fran Berry his second consecutive winner in that particular race.
The day was capped off by a large field in the Windsor Castle Stakes over just five furlongs and was won by U.S.-trained Hootenanny who came through in an incredibly dominant performance.
As ever, Royal Ascot looks to be delivering on a grand scale and the first day has set things up very nicely for the rest of the meeting.
Hughes will be looking to add to his tally of two race wins as the event goes on, while Dettori will no doubt be keen to return to his winning ways after picking up a victory Tuesday.
Here are the full results for Day 1 of Royal Ascot:
|Royal Ascot 2014: Day 1 Results|
|Queen Anne Stakes|
|6||Soft Falling Rain|
|8||Mull Of Killough|
|1||The Wow Signal|
|11||Cock of the North|
|King's Stand Stakes|
|9||Es Que Love|
|St James's Palace Stakes|
|2||Night of Thunder|
|7||Prince of All|
|Windsor Castle Stakes|
|15||Mind Of Madness|