A flat race for three-year-old colts and geldings, the Britannia Stakes is run over a mile and is something of an equivalent to the Royal Hunt Cup, which is run on the same course and over the same distance but is open to three-year-olds and over. It was run for the first time in 1928, although the modern records only date back to 1988.
There is something of a trend for the winning horses to make their way to Hong Kong in the future. The 2013 winner, Roca Tumu was renamed as Beauty Flame after make the journey, whilst Born in Bombay became Born in China after winning in 2014 and being sent out there.
Two years later and it was the turn of Defrocked to be sent to Hong Kong after his win, being renamed to Limitless as a result. 2022’s winner, Thesis, was also exported to Hong Kong. In other words, there is as much chance that the winning horse will make its way out there as win another big race in the UK after demonstrating success in the Britannia Stakes. As with most other races at the time, the 2005 running took place at York Racecourse, owing to the fact that Ascot was closed that year as the venue underwent major refurbishments, which punters benefit from today.
Winners of the Britannia Stakes often become high-class handicappers, with some doing well in the Group races. The likes of Wizard King, Fly To The Stars, New Seeker, Random Note and Bless Him have all impressed after doing well in this race. The event is run on the third day of Royal Ascot and has enjoyed some long odds winners over the years. In 1990, for example, Fox Chapel became the longest odds winner of a Royal Ascot race when he made it home with a price of 100/1. Nando Parrado won the Coventry Stakes at 150/1 to take the crown in 2020.
It is a good race to identify horses that can later become something special. The aforementioned Wizard King won the race with a rating of 77 in 1994, but by the time he ended his racing career and was put to stud, his rating was 119. Fly To The Stars, meanwhile, won this before going on to see victory in the Golden Mile at Goodwood and returned to Ascot to enjoy success in the Royal Hunt Cup. The race is associated with charity, thanks to the fact that the 2023 renewal saw all profits from bookmakers made on the race were donated to numerous different charities.
It was to mark the King’s coronation, with SportsAid, the charity that the Princess of Wales is the Patron of, as well as Holocaust Educational Trust, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, SAS Regimental Association, Ascot Racecourse Supports and Together for Looked After Children all benefitted from the move. The race had raised more than £1.2 million the year before, whilst in 2023 bookmakers said that if they didn’t make a profit on the race then they would donate more than £250,000 to be split between them. Numerous Betting and Gaming Council members are on board with the initiative.
About The Race
The good news for punters, at least in one respect, it that the race is notoriously hard to predict. There are often dark horses, both literally and figuratively, who enter the are having won a maiden or one of the lower grade handicaps, only to take home the big prize. It is not uncommon for winners to have enjoyed success in their previous start, for example. Between 2012 and 2023, there were 12 runnings of the race but only one of them saw the favourite get across the finish line the fastest. That was Fast Or Free in 2012, who was priced at 6/1 and won as favourite.
On the reverse of that, there have been more than a few winners with much longer odds. Biometric was the longest, winning in 2019 with odds of 28/1, having chased down the 7/2 favourite in the process. Bless Him was 25/1 when winning in 2017, whilst Roca Tumu had odds of 20/1 in 2013 and Perotto was 18/1 when enjoying success in 2021. It is also worth noting that, during those same 12 races, the winner had an Official Rating of between 90 and 96 on eight occasions, so it isn’t as if the victor has had an outrageous OR ahead of the race.
Between 1996 and 2001, John Gosden won the race four times as a trainer. Interestingly, between 2001 and the 2023 renewal, no trainer managed to win the event more than once. There have been several jockeys that have enjoyed more than one win, with the likes of Ryan Moore, Pat Eddery, Gary Hind and Franny Norton on that list. None of them have been able to get close to the record of Jamie Spencer, however. He won the race four times between 2003 and 2017, which is a record in the era since 1988. The fact that the race is limited to three-year-olds means no horse has won it more than once.
Given the fact that the race has been taking place since 1988, it is hardly surprising that there is a decent amount of trivia associated with it. We have looked at some already, with the following being another standout fact:
Nearly 10 Seconds Between Fastest & Slowest Running
In 1993, Show Faith was carrying eight stone and five pounds when he made it over the mile of the race in 1:46.05. That is quite a slow time for this race, but it would be unfair to imagine that all horses will be able to match the time that Mostashaar finish in in 2005, which was 1:36.35.
Instead, anywhere between 1:39 and 1:41 is to be expected. That will correlate slightly with the weights given to the horses to carry by the handicapper, given that the lowest amount for a winner is the 7-07 carried by Wizard King in 1994, whilst the most was 9-07 for Eddie Jock 13 years later. All of this is between 1988 and 2023.
The Britannia Stakes is run over one mile on the straight, taking place over the same course and distance as the Royal Hunt Cup. That race is open to three-year-olds and over, whereas this one is restricted to colts and geldings. It is a handicap event, meaning the weight carried by each horse is determined by the handicapper, whilst the 2023 renewal raised money for charity thanks to bookmakers agreeing to donate their profits from the race. There have been some winners with longs odds, including 1990’s Fox Chapel, who won it with odds of 100/1.
Those were the longest odds for a winner in any race at Royal Ascot at the time, though it was later beaten by the 150/1 victory for Nando Parrado in the Coventry Stakes. In the years between 1988 and 2023, no jockey won the race more times than the four occasions that Jamie Spencer was successful on. Similarly, John Gosden won it that many times as trainer, thought Spencer wasn’t the jockey for any of his wins. Between 2001 and 2023, no trainer won the race more than once, which is quite a remarkable statistic and helps to tell the story about how competitive it is.