When Royal Ascot comes around, the excitement is palpable. The attention given to the arrival of the special guests when the Royal Procession begins might have you thinking that that is what everyone is in attendance for, but the reality is that the racing will always take centre stage. The first race of the entire meeting is no mere trivial event, with the Queen Anne Stakes boasting Group 1 status and starting things off in style. It is run over 1 mile on the straight and took place for the first time in 1840. Back then it was known as the Trial Stakes and open to horses aged three and over.
Nowadays, the event is for horses aged four and up, with weight information of 9 stone 0 pounds. There is a 3 pound allowance given to fillies and mares, whilst horses that are four-years-old and from the southern hemisphere receive an allowance of 1 pound. In 2022 there was £600,000 up for grabs, which shows the extent to which the race is considered to be worthy of the attention of the watching public. The decision to put it as the first race of the Royal Ascot meeting was taken in order to get the start off with a bang, with the name being given in honour of the founder of the course.
Though the event is open to horses aged four and over, the last 50 years or so of outings have seen four-year-olds win more often than any other age. That being said, you will see an occasional instance of a five-year-old taking home the prize, with the most recent example of that being Tepin in 2016.
The oldest horse to win it in the modern era has been a six-year-old, which happened with Ardoon in 1976 and Lord Glitters in 2019. In other words, if you’re thinking of betting on a horse because all of the factors point to them winning, the age might not matter but they’re most likely to win if they’re four.
In terms of how long it takes for the horses to complete the race, you are looking at around one minute and 40 seconds. The Going will obviously determine whether it is likely to be slower or quicker than that, but it’s worth bearing in mind that since 1984 the quickest that it has been run is 1:36.60, which was achieved by Ribchester in 2017, whilst the slowest was the 1:47.06 that it took Waajib to win it in 1988.
British Champions Series
The race is one of seven events run over a mile that are part of the British Champions Series. The others are as follows:
- 2,000 Guineas (Newmarket)
- Lockinge Stakes (Newbury)
- St James’ Palace Stakes (Ascot)
- Sussex Stakes (Ascot)
- Sun Chariot Stakes (Newmarket)
- Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Ascot)
The Series is a grouping of 35 flat races that culminates in a day-long Festival of races that bears the moniker British Champions Day. First run in 2011, the aim of it is to pull together Britain’s best flat races into a championship that has a sense of meaning, with the hope being that it would result in an increased interest from the casual sports fan. Given that there was a 7% rise in attendance in race days that were part of the British Champions Series, the belief is that it has done just that.
About The Race
First run in 1840 as a race for three-year-olds, the Queen Anne Stakes was known as the Trial Stakes until it was renamed in 1930. That was in order to pay homage to the founder of Ascot Racecourse, Queen Anne, who created it in 1711.
When the gradings of races was introduced, the Queen Anne Stakes was given the status of a Group 3 event. This remained the case until 1984, when it was improved to become a Group 2 level race. It finally got its Group 1 status in 2003, which was also when the race was changed to become for horses aged four and up.
At the time of writing, four horses have won the race more than once, with the following achieving that feat:
- Flambeau (1840, 1841)
- Toastmaster (1885, 1886)
- Worcester (1895, 1896)
- Dean Swift (1906, 1907)
As you might imagine, there is a link between the most successful jockey, the trainer that has trained the most winners and the owner that owned more winners than any other. Frankie Dettori notched up seven wins between 1990 and 2021, which is the same number of winners that Saeed bin Suroor has achieved as trainer. Of the horses concerned, the crossover came with Allied Forces in 1997, Intikhab a year later, Dubai Destination in 2003, Refuse to Bend a year after that and Ramonti in 2007. Both then had three winners without the other being involved.
The most successful owner to date is Godolphin, who owned all of the horses trained by Saeed bin Suroor as well as Ribchester in 2017, giving them eight wins rather than the seven that Dettori and bin Suroor have managed. There is no other owner that even comes close to that number of victories, with the next closest being three wins for Khalid Abdullah. All of these records are since 1971, which is the modern era for flat racing.
As you might imagine for a race as famous and prestigious as the Queen Anne Stakes, there is a fair bit of trivia that surrounds the race. Here is a look at some of the most interesting bits:
Fourth Placed Winner
In 1974, the Queen Anne Stakes was won by a horse called Brook, as far as the record books are concerned. The interesting thing about that race is that Brook actually came fourth, with all of Confusion, Gloss and Royal Prerogative finishing ahead of him. It was only after stewards viewed a replay of the race and decided that all three horses had caused interference in one form or another that they were all disqualified from the race, with Brook announced as the winner.
Race Run At York
In 2005, Ascot Racecourse was closed for refurbishment. This meant that Royal Ascot had to take place elsewhere, with York Racecourse chosen as the best place to host the event. This meant that all of the races were shifted up north, including the Queen Anne Stakes.
Three Year Old Winners
Everyone knows that the Queen Anne Stakes is restricted to horses aged four and over, so the fact that the last three-year-old winner was in 1984 won’t come as much of a surprise. That is until you realise that the restriction of the race to four-year-olds and up didn’t come in until 2003. Perhaps the lack of younger winners is why it was decided it made sense to put the restriction in place.
Generally speaking, the winning time of the race seems to have gotten quicker over the years. The first 1:36 run wasn’t seen until 2007 and in recent years 1:37 winners are becoming the norm when the going is good. Of course, the 1:43.98 in 2016 shows that the Going will ultimately be the defining factor when it comes to how quick the race’s running actually is.
Run over one mile and part of the British Champions Series of races, the Queen Anne Stakes is the opening event of Royal Ascot. It is limited to horses aged four and over and was made into a Group 1 race in 2003.
No jockey has won the race more times than Frankie Dettori, whilst no trainer has seen more success than Saeed bin Suroor.