Not to be confused with the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the King George V Stakes is a flat race run at Royal Ascot over one mile, three furlongs and 211 yards. It is limited to three-year-olds and is run right-handed, taking place each year on the third day of the meeting. It is a handicap event, so the official handicapper will decide what weight each of the horses will carry. The aim is to make the race as even as possible, but there are always some horses that out-perform their weights whilst others will struggle to carry what they’ve been asked.
Punters are the ones that get to decide which horse will fit into which category for the King George V Stakes, given the fact that the young horses are often untested at this level before heading into the race. It is the sort of event that is worth considering on its own merit, given the fact that not a lot of the horses that have done well in it in recent times have go on to perform well in Group 1 races. 2011’s winner Brown Panther is one of the most successful, for example, going on to finish third in the Ascot Gold Cup in 2014, so that probably tells you quite a lot.
This race for three-year-olds is named in honour of King George V, who was born in 1865 and died in 1936, having been the King of Britain since 1910. He made it in line to the throne in the wake of his brother’s death, after which he married his brother’s fiancé and the paid had six children. When anti-public sentiment was rife in the United Kingdom, King George V renamed the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha into the House of Windsor. He was succeeded by Edward VIII, who abdicated and allowed George VI to take over the role, putting Elizabeth Windsor in line for the throne.
The race was first run in 1946, although not at the Royal meeting. Back then it was run over one and a half miles. Not much is known about the race back then as it was only once it became part of Royal Ascot that it got acclaim.
There are countless different links between Royal Ascot and the Royal Family, as the name of the meeting suggests, with the naming of races after various monarchs being just one example. As with many things to do with the monarchy, there is little in George V’s life to suggest he deserved having a horse race named after him bar the fortune of his birth. He was not particularly well-known as a horse racing lover, for example. At this most Royal of meetings, however, his title adorns one of the handicap races that is due to take place during the week and garners much attention.
It is thought of as being a competitive handicap, largely because of the decent size of the fields and the fact that the horses are generally inexperienced, thereby offering something interesting. In the wake of the race, there isn’t necessarily much to look out for. Between 2004 and 2023, only five horses won the race that they took part in in the immediate aftermath of winning the King George V Stakes. Whilst that suggests that the quality isn’t necessary at its best, it is also quite indicative of an event that is competitive in the moment that it takes place, rather than after.
About The Race
In modern terms, the data for the race dates back to 1984. Between then and 2023, several jockeys managed to win the race more than once. William Buick managed it in 2015 and then again seven years later, for example, whilst Richard Hill, Kevin Darley and Gary Carter all won it twice. It is Pat Eddery who has been the most successful, however, getting three wins to his name in this event between 1989 and 2000. It is a not dissimilar story when it comes to the best trainers. Charlie Appleby won it twice thanks to those William Buick victories, which is the same number as Geoff Lewis, John Gosden and Roger Charlton.
Michael Stoute won the race four times between 1998 and 2008, which is one more win than both Geoff Wragg and John Dunlop managed. Mark Johnston has been the race’s most successful trainer during recent years, though. He won it six times between 1995 and 2018 to cement his place in the record books. Some relatively well-known horses have enjoyed success in the race. The aforementioned Brown Panther followed up his win in this with victories in the likes of the Goodwood Cup, the Irish St. Leger and the Dubai Gold Cup, all for owner Michael Owen.
Hukum, meanwhile, won this race in 2020 and then added the likes of the Dubai City of Gold and the Coronation Cup two years later, as well as the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 2023. Moon Madness was the winner in 1986 and followed that up with a St. Leger Stakes win late in the season, plus the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in 1987 and the Yorkshire Cup a year after that. It shows that some classy horses can do well in the race and then emerge in others later on, even if they are the exception that prove the rule in terms of what comes later on for most horses.
We have already looked at some interesting trivia surrounding the race, but it is always worth having a closer look at some other bits:
Weights Vary For The Winners
The official handicapper is given the responsibility of handing out the weights to the participating horses, which means that they can sometimes get it wrong. If a horse wins then there is an argument that they should’ve been given more, but the fact that the winner with the lowest weight, 1988’s Thethingaboutitis, carried just 7-07 tells you something.
The weights that have been carried range from that all the up to 9-07, which was how much Beekeeper carried in 2001. Interestingly, the weight hasn’t always reflected the timings, with Beekeeper being the fifth fastest horse to date.
Named in honour of King George V, as the name suggests, the King George V Stakes is a flat race run during the week of Royal Ascot and takes place over 1 mile, three furlongs and 211 yards. A handicap race, the event is limited to three-year-olds and is run right-handed. Looking back as far as 1984, no jockey has won the race more times than the three wins notched up by Pat Eddery between 1989 and 2000. When it comes to trainers, several have won the race on more than one occasion but it is Mark Johnston who leads the way thanks to six wins between 1995 and 2018.
The race doesn’t tend to produce serial winners, with names like Brown Panther, Moon Madness and Hukum being the exceptions that prove the rule. They won the Irish St. Leger, the St. Leger and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes respectively in the years after they enjoyed success in this event. The fact that it is a handicap event is why there can often be good value in the field, thanks to the handicapper being responsible for deciding how much weight each horses needed to carry. They have got that wrong a few times, with horses out-performing their rating.