Think of the Royal Ascot meeting and you will no doubt immediately find yourself thinking about the age of the races and the prestige attached. A race founded in 1921, such as the Queen Mary Stakes, is thought of as being relatively young, such is the age of most of the events taking place during the week. Spare a thought, then for the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, which was run for the first time in 2004, very much putting it on the list of veritable babies compared to the races that have been taking place here for hundreds of years. It was introduced with others for older females across Europe.
As you might well have figured out from that, it is limited to fillies and mares, with the youngest age a horse can be in order to take part in the race being four. There is no upper age limit, yet, in spite of this, no horse has ever managed to win it more than once. It is run on the straight over one mile, with the maturity and intelligence of the horses often making it a quick one. Whilst no horse has won it more than once, the same isn’t true of jockeys of trainers. William Buick is the most successful of the former, whilst both Sir Michael Stoute and John Gosden have trained multiple winners.
It is fair to say that the relative youth of the race means that there isn’t as much to say about it as with many of the other events run during the week of Royal Ascot, but it has been going on for long enough to mean that there are some bits and bobs that we can tell you about it. It is run over one mile, with the following weight information at play:
Weight: 9 stone 2 pounds
Group 1 winners since 31st August the previous year: 5 pound allowance
Group 2 winners since 31st August the previous year: 3 pound allowance
Because it is limited to fillies and mares, there is obviously no allowance given to a horse based on their gender as is sometimes the case in other races. It was brought in in 2004, with a few such races introduced around Europe. That was in order to give older female horses a chance to take part in events with their equals, rather than having to often play second-fiddle to their male counterparts.
The hope behind the introduction of such races was that it would reduce the possibility of female horses being exported. There was also a number of females being retired prematurely in order to put them out to stud. By offering them a selection of decent races to take part in, the thought process was that it would encourage owners to keep them in the country and race them regularly. Given the prestige surrounding Royal Ascot, it made complete sense to ensure that one such race was run during the meeting.
About The Race
As you might imagine, the Duke of Cambridge Stakes was named in honour of Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. Interestingly, though, it wasn’t given that title when it was created. Instead, it was known as the Windsor Forest Stakes, which was a nod to the forest close to the Royal Family’s Windsor Castle property. In 2013, a decision was taken to rename it in order to honour the Prince, who obviously didn’t catch many other breaks as a member of the Royal household. It has kept the name since, though it will be interesting to see what happens if he ever becomes king.
Though the nature of Royal Ascot coming around once a year means that this could change rather quickly, no jockey won the race more times than William Buick between its first running in 2004 and the 2023 iteration. He won it in 2012, then again in 2018 before completing the hat-trick in 2022. There are other jockeys that have more than one win to their name during the same time period, though. Daniel Tudhope won the race for the first time in 2019 then notched up his second in 2023, whilst wins in 2010 and 2014 added Ryan Moore’s name to the list. Wayne Lordan won in 2011 and 2013.
Interestingly, the fact that it was run for the first time in 2004 means that it didn’t enjoy long at Ascot Racecourse before taking place somewhere else. That is because Ascot Racecourse was shut in 2005 for redevelopment, meaning that all of the events were moved to York Racecourse for the year. As a result, no one really knew what to expect from the event in 2006 when it returned to Ascot, given the lack of consistency. Of course, it did return and has taken place here every year since then, which has allowed for those that like to do some research to get a sense of what is likely to happen.
Whilst the event might be a young one, comparatively speaking, that doesn’t mean that we can’t tell you some interesting bits of trivia about it. These are the sorts of things that you might want to bear in mind before placing a bet on the event, given that they can help you to spot any common themes that might well reoccur in the future.
Keep An Eye On Four-Year-Olds
The race took place 20 times between 2004 and 2023, which gives us a decent bit of information to work with. During that time, there were only three occasions in which the winner wasn’t a four-year-old. Though the event is open to horses of any age over four, it is clear that the younger ones are dominant. In 2006 the winner was six-year-old Soviet Song, then two years later Sabana Perdida got a win at the age of five. That might have given people the sense that older horses might stand a chance, but it took another ten years for a five-year-old to win again, this time thanks to Aljazzi.
Expect It To Last For About 1:40
The very first time the Duke of Cambridge Stakes took place, the winner was Sir Michael Stoute’s Favourable Terms. She got home in 1:40.37, which is about right for the race. In fact, five of the renewals have finished within the 1:40 to 1:41 time. The quickest running came in 2014, which was when Integral made it home in 1:37.09; again doing so for Sir Michael Stoute. The slowest race to date was the 1:43.33 that it took Usherette to complete the race in, presumably because the Going was Heavier than usual in 2016.
The Duke of Cambridge Stakes, a relatively young addition to Royal Ascot, has quickly gained prestige and recognition since its inception in 2004. Unlike the centuries-old races at the meeting, this Group 2 event was introduced as part of a series for older female horses across Europe, emphasising its importance in offering a platform for experienced fillies and mares. Run over a straight mile, the race is exclusively for female horses aged four and above, ensuring competitive battles among seasoned contenders. With no upper age limit, each year’s field showcases a blend of maturity and intelligence, contributing to thrilling races.
Notably, no horse has managed to win the Duke of Cambridge Stakes more than once, maintaining the event’s unpredictability. However, top jockeys like William Buick and Daniel Tudhope have secured multiple victories over the years, adding excitement to each renewal. Initially known as the Windsor Forest Stakes, the race was renamed in 2013 to honour Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. Interestingly, the 2005 Ascot Racecourse redevelopment temporarily moved the event to York Racecourse, creating an element of unpredictability for its return.