Royal Ascot: Champions, Royalty on Parade at ‘Greatest Show on Turf’

It’s the Greatest Show on Turf, the ultimate garden party that has been welcoming the English summer for more than two centuries.

Royal Ascot has everything – the Royal Family, elegantly attired ladies and gentlemen, and five days of gambling frenzy at the world’s greatest race meeting.

Ascot has been running since 1711, 152 years before Saratoga, America’s most venerated racetrack, got started. The Royal Meeting dates to 1807, and on Tuesday (June 18) everything old will be new again on the pristine turf 25 miles west of London.

Royal Ascot 2020

Royal Ascot 2020 courtesy of

King and Queen attending

The procession of horse-drawn carriages begins at 2 and parades right to left for a mile. Besides King Charles III and Queen Camilla, it will include many well-dressed aristocrats.

Lovely women in expensive gowns and outrageous fascinators will join gents in top hats and morning coats in the betting ring. So will thousands of others shopping for prices among the scores of bookmakers.

Meet runs Tuesday-Saturday

The action begins at 2:30 p.m. local time (9:30 a.m. ET) with the mile Queen Anne Stakes, named for the monarch who opened Ascot more than three centuries ago. Another highlight of opening day will be the mile St. James’s Palace Stakes, featuring the rematch of 3-year-old standouts Notable Speech and Rosallion, who ran 1-2, respectively, last month in the English Two Thousand Guineas.

The Queen Anne headlines eight Group 1 events at a five-day wagering banquet that runs through Saturday. Distances range from 5-furlong sprints for 2-year-olds to grueling marathons – the 2 3/8-mile Queen Alexandra and the 2 5/8-mile Ascot Gold Cup – for older horses. Fans of cavalry charges enjoy the Royal Hunt Cup and the Sandringham Handicap. Both races can line up as many as 32 runners going a straight mile, with the favorite often as high as 7-1.

O’Brien, Appleby, Gosden looking for big wins

Aidan O’Brien. Coolmore Photo

All of Europe’s top trainers will be there, including Aidan O’Brien, Charlie Appleby, and the father-son team of John and Thady Gosden. So will American Wesley Ward, who’s won 12 races at the meet and will be back with his usual legion of bullet-fast 2-year-olds. Ward hasn’t won at Ascot since 2021 and is eager to end that slump.

Moore, Buick, Lemarie top riders

The best riders will also be competing, including Ryan Moore, William Buick and Christophe Lemaire. For the first time since the early Nineties, all-time great Frankie Dettori won’t have a chance to do one of his flying dismounts, but the charismatic Italian will be there as a racegoer.

Whether you’re there or playing from far away on your internet account, what matters most is hitting some good-priced winners. There’s been some buzz in the English media about Daysofourlives (Wednesday, Royal Hunt Cup); English Oaks (Thursday, Buckingham Palace Stakes); Indelible (Friday, Sandringham Stakes); Equity Law (Friday, Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes); and Gilded Water (Saturday, Golden Gates Handicap).

Champions Inspiral, Big Evs set to run

Most of the horses will be unfamiliar to American horseplayers, but they’ll recognize some of them. On hand will be Inspiral, the heroine of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita, and Big Evs, hero of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.

Big Evs will run Tuesday in the King Charles III Stakes, while Inspiral goes Wednesday in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.

FanDuel TV will televise the entire meeting. Bet well and prosper.

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