The reality of Royal Ascot is such that it feels as though the top events almost never stop. Having seen the meeting get underway with the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, a Group 2 event, the Coventry Stakes, is the sandwich filler before another Group 1 race gets underway. That is the King’s Stand Stakes, which takes place over five furlongs and is open to horses aged three and over with specific weight information at play. The history of the event is fascinating, having begun life in 1860 thanks to the fact that heavy rain meant that it was impossible for the Royal Stand Plate to take place.
Rather than trying to run an event over two miles, it was shortened to five furlongs and Queen’s State Plate was born, changing its name years later. In the modern version of the race, the horses have weight information of eight stone 12 pounds if they’re three-year-olds and nine stone five pounds if they’re four and over. Mares and fillies receive an allowance of three pounds in an attempt to make things a little fairer for them. A Group 1 event nowadays, it was first given the status in 1973 before being down-graded in 1988 and then re-instated as a Group 1 event in 2008.
The event is one of a number of Group 1 races that take place during Royal Ascot week, but it wasn’t given the status as soon as the gradings were introduced for the first time in 1971. Instead, it took two years for the Group 1 status to be given to the event, which remained the case for 15 years.
In 1988 a decision was taken to down-grade it to become a Group 2 race. Whilst it is hardly fair to say that Group 2 is significantly worse than Group 1, it is also true to say that there is a difference in terms of prestige between the two race types. With that in mind, it was good news when it was re-instated as a Group 1 event in in 2008.
Global Sprint Challenge
Its re-instatement back as a Group 1 event came thanks to the fact that it was made part of a new international race series known as the Global Sprint Challenge three years earlier. This resulted in a number of high-quality horses being entered into the race from overseas, which in turn saw its prestige return.
Nowadays, the King’s Stand Stakes is the fourth leg of the Global Sprint Challenge series, with the KrisFlyer International Sprint coming before it and the Golden Jubilee Stakes following it. The series itself takes place across Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and Britain, with the races being as follows:
- Lightning Stakes run at Flemington Racecourse
- Takamatsunomiya Kinen run at Chukyo Racecourse
- Al Quoz Sprint run at Meydan Racecourse
- Chairman’s Sprint Prize run at Sha Tin Racecourse
- King’s Stand Stakes run at Royal Ascot
- Diamond Jubilee Stakes run at Royal Ascot
- July Cup run at Newmarket Racecourse
- Sprinters Stakes run at Nakayama Racecourse
- VRC Sprint Classic run at Flemington Racecourse
- Hong Kong Sprint run at Sha Tin Racecourse
The connections of any horse that manages to accumulate 42 points or more during the course of a season are awarded the Champion Sprinter trophy, provided they took part in races across at least three countries. If they win a minimum of three Group 1 events and run in three countries other than their own, they are eligible to win a $1 million bonus, with $750,000 going to the owner and the other $250,000 being paid to the trainer. Since 2009, there has been no necessity to run in all four countries to be eligible to win the bonus.
About The Race
The race took place for the first time in 1860, run over five furlongs as a replacement for the Royal Stand Place as heavy rain meant that that race couldn’t be run over two miles. It was given the title of the Queen’s Stand Plate, later becoming the most important sprint race that is run during Royal Ascot week.
When Queen Victoria died and King Edward ascended to the throne, the race was renamed as the King’s Stand Stakes, which is the name it has maintained ever since. For a short period of time it was open to horses aged two and over, but the modern race is for horses aged three and over.
As things currently stand, there are 12 horses that have won the race twice. These are as follows:
- Woolsthorpe (1895, 1897)
- Kilcock (1898, 1899)
- Sundridge (1903, 1904)
- Foresight (1908, 1909)
- Hornet’s Beauty (1911, 1913)
- Diadem (1919, 1920)
- Golden Boss (1923, 1924)
- Gold Bridge (1933, 1934)
- Elbio (1991, 1993)
- Equiano (2008, 2010)
- Sole Power (2013, 2014)
- Blue Point (2018, 2019)
When it comes the most successful jockey in the race, the name that comes up is one that is often linked with races run at Royal Ascot: Lester Piggott. He won the race for the first time on the back of Right Boy in 1957, with Majority Rule winning for him six years later and Swing Easy enjoying victory in 1971.
Abergwaun won in 1973 and Godswalk was successful four years after that, before his sixth win came on Solinus in 1978 and he won for the final time with Never So Bold in 1985. Vincent O’Brien, the race’s most successful trainer was responsible for the victories with Abergwaun, Godswalk and Solinus.
In spite of the length of time that the King’s Stand Stakes has been taking place for, there isn’t actually all that much interesting trivia associated with it that we haven’t already mentioned. There is the sliding doors moment of 1860, with many wondering whether the race would ever have been formed if it hadn’t been for the heavy rain that fell that year.
The fact that it went on to become Royal Ascot’s most important sprint race says that there was always likely to be room for such an event, so it probably would’ve come around anyway, but who really knows?
York As Royal Ascot
When Ascot Racecourse was closed for re-development in 2005, the racing had to be moved somewhere else. As a result, York Racecourse was the home for the events that would normally be run at Ascot, including the King’s Stand Stakes. Whether Chineur really won the event is therefore a matter of some debate.
Appropriately Named First Winner
The first ever winner of the race was the appropriately named Queen of the Vale. At the time, remember, the race was known as the Queen’s Stand Plate. Other horses with Royal names include 1870’s winner, King of the Forest, 1873’s victor, Prince Charlie and Prince William, who won in 1883. Interestingly, no horses with Royal names have won since the gradings were introduced in 1970.
The King’s Stand Stakes is a Group 1 race at Royal Ascot, run over 5 furlongs. It originated in 1860 due to heavy rain, replacing the Royal Stand Plate. The race became a Group 1 event in 1973, was downgraded to Group 2 in 1988, and regained its Group 1 status in 2008.
It is part of the Global Sprint Challenge series, attracting high-quality international competition. The race has weight requirements and offers allowances for mares and fillies. Lester Piggott is the most successful jockey, whilst Vincent O’Brien is the most successful trainer. Notable multiple winners include Elbio, Equiano, Sole Power and Blue Point.