When it comes to the Royal Ascot meeting, it is entirely fair to expect tradition and races almost as old as the racecourse itself. Whilst that is very much the case with the majority of the events that take place across the week, there are more than a few races that have been brought into the fold relatively recently and are therefore much younger. That is very much the case with the Albany Stakes, which has only been taking place since 2002, but has become a staple of Royal Ascot since then and is run on the fourth day of the meeting, alongside some other top races.
Run on the straight over six furlongs, the Albany Stakes is limited to two-year-old fillies with weight information of nine stone and two pounds. The race was a Listed event when it first took place, gaining promotion to Group 3 three years later and remaining in that category ever since. It would be untrue to suggest that this is one of the biggest and best races that is run during the week, but at the same time it gains a good degree of attention simply by virtue of being a Group race run at Royal Ascot during one of the most prestigious meetings held at the famous venue.
When the race was run for the first time in 2002, it did so under the moniker of being the Henry Carnarvon Stakes. That is because it was named in honour of the 7th Earl of Carnarvon, Henry Herbert, who had died in the September of the year before. He was born in Lancaster Gate in London, being the only son of the Countess of Carnarvon. Educated at Eton College, he was in the Royal Horse Guards in the Second World War and served in Egypt and Italy, leaving the army in 1947 having become a lieutenant, going on to study at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester.
All of that matters because he managed the stud at Highclere Estate, becoming friends with Princess Elizabeth. In 1969, the then Queen Elizabeth II made her his Racing Manager, which was the position that he held until his death. Known as ‘Porchey’ to friends, on account of the fact that he was Lord Porchester, he was an influential figure in the world of British horse racing, being Chairman of the Jockey Club’s Race Planning Committee between 1967 and 1985 and was an active member of several racing committees.
The combination of being friends with the Queen and his work with the Jockey Club meant that it was perhaps somewhat inevitable that he would have a horse race named after him during the week of Royal Ascot. It only lasted a year, however, and in 2003 it was given its current moniker, which has remained in place ever since. Two years later and it was promoted to Group 3. At the time of writing, the event takes place on Day Four of the five day meeting, sitting alongside some excellent races and earning its place there on account of how enjoyable the race is to watch.
About The Race
The fact that the Albany Stakes is limited to two-year-old fillies means that it is an excellent chance for some female horses to prove their mettle against their equals rather than needing to beat male horses on a level playing field. It also means that no horses has managed to win the race more than once owning to the age limit, but the same can’t be said of jockeys of trainers. Jamie Spencer is the most successful of the former, having seen his rides win in the event on four different occasions. The first win came in 2005 thanks to La Chunga, with his most recent being Kiyoshi in 2013.
Three of Spencer’s four wins came thanks to the training of Mick Channon, with Silca’s Gift in 2003, Nijoom Dubai in 2007 and Samitar winning in 2011. In fact, Kiyoshi is the only horse to have won the race for Spencer without having been trained by Channon, with Charles Hills taking on training duty for that occasion. Frankie Dettori has won the race twice as jockey, whilst Richard Hughes has won three times. Training-wise, Aidan O’Brien has got two wins, whilst Mick Channon shares the honour of training the most winners with Richard Hannon Senior.
If you look at the winners from the ten races between 2014 and 2023, only two of the winners were the favourites. During that time there were some decently priced victors, such as Brave Anna winning in 2016 at odds of 16/1 and Sandrine’s victory in 2021 with the same odds. In other words, you can look outside of the usual places for winners in this event if you’d rather steer clear of going for the one that the bookmakers seem to think is most likely to win. You won’t always get it right, of course, but you’ll be better placed than if you’d opted for the favourite each renewal.
Away from the information about the Starting Price of the winners in recent years, there is some interesting trivia that we can tell you about the race. Five of those ten winners between 2014 and 2023 were Irish, for example, whilst two were from the United States of America and one was French.
Here is another interesting thing to think about:
Expect A Quick Race
Given the fact that the race is run over just six furlongs, it isn’t all that surprising that it can reach its conclusion pretty quickly. In reality, the difference between the fasted running of the race and the slowest at the time of writing was less than eight seconds. The quickest run came in 2005 when La Chunga got home in 1:10.35, whilst the slowest was 1:18.00 that Sandrine ran in 2021.
Given the fact that the 2005 running was in York as Ascot was closed for redevelopment, the quickest running at its regular venue was the 1:13.20 managed by Illuminate in 2015.
The Albany Stakes is a relatively young but increasingly significant race within the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting. Established in 2002, the race is run on the fourth day of the event and features two-year-old fillies competing over a distance of six furlongs. A Group 3 event, the race offers a purse of £100,000 and was originally known as the Henry Carnarvon Stakes. In 2003, the race was renamed the Albany Stakes and has retained that name since. The race’s significance goes beyond its name, as it showcases emerging talent among two-year-old fillies.
Prominent jockeys such as Jamie Spencer and trainers like Mick Channon have achieved notable successes in the Albany Stakes. The race’s competitive nature is highlighted by the fact that favourites haven’t consistently dominated the winners’ circle, with winners at various odds making their mark.
This unpredictability adds to the excitement of the race, making it a betting opportunity where astute observers can uncover potential winners beyond the expected contenders. The race’s relatively short distance contributes to its swift nature, with horses completing it in less than a minute and a half. The fastest time recorded at Ascot was in 2015 when Illuminate triumphed in one minute and 10.35 seconds.