The only race that takes place during British Champions Day that isn’t actually part of the British Champions Series is the Balmoral Handicap. The final event of the day, it was introduced in order to offer something a little bit different. Run over one mile, the event wasn’t established until 2014, also making it the youngest of the events that take part during the course of the day. Run on the straight, it has a usual field of around 20 horses and is open to horses aged three-years-old and over. That is another thing that it has in common with the rest of the races run during the day.
The final race of the day, the relative youth of the event is why there isn’t a huge amount to tell you about. In truth, the race isn’t one of the most exciting of the week and a lot of the punters will look away to other things by the time it rolls it around. That isn’t necessarily the right approach, however, given the manner in which doing some research into the event can help you figure out what you want to bet on. That is presumably why you’re here, having already read our pages on the other races that are run during the rest of British Champions Day at Ascot Racecourse.
Taking place over one mile for horses aged three and over, the Balmoral Handicap is, as you might have guessed, named in honour of Balmoral Castle. The estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, is one the residences of the Royal Family when they are in Scotland and was bought by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, in 1852. He bought it from the previous owners, the Farquharson family, but the original castle was soon found to be too small. As a result, the current Balmoral Castle was commission and the design chosen was that of William Smith from Aberdeen.
Although it is one of the Royal residences, it is considered to be private property of the monarch and is not part of the Crown Estate. Queen Elizabeth II used Balmoral as her summer residence, actually dying in the castle on the eighth of September 2022. An example of Scottish baronial architecture, the venue is considered to be a category A listed building by Historic Environment Scotland. Apart from the fact that Queen Elizabeth II was a big lover and supporter of horse racing, regularly attending events at Ascot, there is little else to link Balmoral and the sport.
Even so, as anyone who knows anything about Royal Ascot will tell you, you only need to have a tangential link to the Royal Family in order to have a race named after you at Ascot Racecourse. That is probably why the Balmoral Handicap gets its name, with the race itself often being a competitive one. The fields can be quite big for the event, with 23 horses competing in it in 2022 for example. As a handicap race, it is the official handicapper that decides what each of the horses will carry, based on their official rating as well as their form heading into the race.
About The Race
By 2022, the event had taken place just nine times. That obviously limits what we’re about to tell you about this one mile handicap, but we do know that the winner in 2022, when the field stood at 23 horses, was six-years-old. The year before that it had been a three-year-old, with all seven of the previous winners being aged either four or five. In order words, just one of the nine winners was a three-year-old, so you might want to consider looking away from them when it is time for you to place your bets. Even when a three-year-old did win, it was Aldaary, who had won over seven furlongs at Ascot a fortnight before.
Heading into the 2022 renewal, David O’Meara was the trainer to look out for. He had managed to train three of the previous six winners, which included an 80/1 outsider. John Gosden on the other hand, so successful in other races that take place during the British Champions Day meeting, had failed to get a winner from 11 entries, even though one of them had been the 2/1 favourite. If you want to get an idea of what to look out for in terms of ratings, eight of the nine winners during the time period between 2014 and 2022 were rated between 101 and 105 when running in this race.
In fact, the only exception to the rating situation was Musaddas, who won it in 2015 with a rating of 96, perhaps therefore being able to outrun the weight given to him by the official handicapper. The stall can be influential when it comes to races run at Ascot, with six of the nine winners being drawn no higher than stall ten. That might be worth thinking about, although Escobar, the winning in 2019, was running from stall 21. The longest period of time that it had been for a runner since their previous race was the 25 days that Njord had before winning the race in 2020 on Soft ground.
Despite the race’s youth, there is a bit of trivia we can tell you about it. As an example, no jockey managed to win the race more than once between 2014 and 2022, unlike David O’Meara as trainer. Here is another thing that might interest you:
Don’t Worry About The Starting Price
It is fair to say that the winning horses of this race during the nine year period that we’ve been considering have had all sorts of different Starting Prices. You might have got excited if you’d bet on the inaugural winner, for example, one account of the fact that Bronze Angel was priced at 20/1.
In 2022, however, that was blown out of the water when Shelir won with odds of 80/1. If you’re thinking that this is a race for horses with long odds, however, then the win of Aldaary when priced at 7/2 in 2021 and Lord Glitters’ 3/1 price in 2017 will soon disabuse you of that notion.
The meeting comes to a close with the running of the Balmoral Handicap, which, as the name suggests, is a handicap event that sees the official handicapper decide how much weight each horse will carry according to their ability and form. It was actually only added to British Champions Day in 2014, which is why there is a lot less to say about it then the other races that are run across the course of the day. It is restricted to just 20 runners, although that wasn’t the case initially and 27 horses took part in the inaugural event that was run at Ascot.