There are any number of excellent races run during the week of Royal Ascot, with many of them being Group 1 events. Of course, not all of them can be, but that doesn’t mean that they’re any less enjoyable to watch. The Ribblesdale Stakes is a perfect example of this, being one of several Group 2 races that take place across the course of the meeting. It is limited to three-year-old fillies with a weight of nine stone zero pounds. If a horse has won a Group 1 race across the previous year, they are given a penalty of three pounds in order to try to level things out a touch.
The race is run right-handed across a course of one mile, three furlongs and 211 yards and is named to honour the person who was the Master of the Buckhounds from 1892 until 1895. That was the fourth Baron of Ribblesdale, who had the race named after him when it was first run in 1919. It hasn’t always been limited to fillies, being open to horses of either gender back when it took place for the first time. The limit was put in place in 1950, with the race having been extended to be run over a mile and a half when it returned after the Second World War.
Given the sheer quality of the races run during the week of Royal Ascot, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there isn’t much that helps the Ribblesdale Stakes to stand out from the crowd. You would be wrong to make that assumption, however, with the event being one of only a few that is limited to fillies. That means that it sees some of the best longer distance female horses entered into it, with those that had previously taken part in the Epsom Oaks often entered into this event. That, perhaps more than anything else, is proof of the race’s quality amongst an excellent field.
Named after the Master of the Buckhounds, who would act as the monarch’s representative at Ascot, the distance it was run over originally was one mile. Back then, the race was not only open to both male and female horses, it was also possible for those aged three and four-years-old to enter it. When World War II broke out, the race was abandoned altogether. When it returned, the event was extended in order to take place over one and a half miles. Then, in 1950, the race was limited to fillies aged three, meaning there had been several changes across just a few years.
Thomas Lister, the fourth Baron Ribblesdale after whom the race is named, was born in Fontainebleau, France in 1854. He sat on the Liberal benches of the House of Lords, serving as Lord-in-waiting, which is the government’s whip in the Lords, under William Gladstone. Gladstone also made him Master of the Buckhounds, which is why it was felt appropriate for him to have a race named after him during the week of Royal Ascot. He died on the 21st of October 1925, meaning that he was alive when the race was first run in his honour six years earlier.
About The Race
Occasionally featuring fillies that had run in the Epsom Oaks earlier in the season, the Ribblesdale Stakes is usually held on the third day of the Royal Ascot meeting. Run over one mile, three furlongs and 211 yards, no jockey has won the race more often than Frankie Dettori in the modern era. Even well-known names like Willie Carson and Lester Piggott can’t get close to the diminutive Italian, with those two winning it four times and three times respectively. Dettori, meanwhile, went into the winner’s enclosure eight times during his career, with his first win coming in 1995 and his last in 2020.
When it comes to trainers, there are three that stand out. Henry Cecil enjoyed his first win in 1976, getting his horse across the line first four more times before he retired. John Dunlop, meanwhile, saw High Hawk win in 1983 and then enjoyed four more winners, with Thakafaat his last victor in 2005. Saeed bin Suroor tasted victory for the first time courtesy of Bahr in 1998, winning three more times before Hibaayeb rounded things off in 2010. In terms of modern trainers, John Gosden got his first win courtesy of Michita in 2008, winning another four times up 2021.
Obviously no horse has won the event more than once in the modern era, on account of it being limited the three-year-olds. In fact, no horse has ever won it more than once, even when both three and four-year-olds could take part in it. The fact that it wasn’t run between 1940 and 1947 certainly didn’t help. There is a little bit of other trivia we can tell you too:
It Lasts Around Two And A Half Minutes
As far as the race’s length is concerned, you can expect it to last for about two and a half minutes. The quickest that it’s ever been run since records began is 2:28.50, which was achieved by Bracey Bridge in 1965. It took 53 years for a horse to get close, which was Magic Wand’s 2:28.52 in 2018. As proof of how much of a difference the likes of the Going can make, however, the longest that it has taken a winner to make it across the line is is 2:44.30. That was Fleet Wahine in 1971, but Even Song took 2:39.74 to win it in 2016, proving it’s not just an old-fashioned problem.
The Ribblesdale Stakes is one of the many excellent horse races held during the Royal Ascot week, though it is a Group 2 race rather than a Group 1 event. This historic race is limited to three-year-old fillies with a weight of nine stone zero pounds, and those who won a Group 1 race the previous year are given a three-pound penalty to even out the competition. Named after the fourth Baron of Ribblesdale, who served as the Master of the Buckhounds, the race initially took place over one mile and was open to both male and female horses aged three and four.
During World War II, the race was suspended, but when it returned, it was extended to one and a half miles and later limited to fillies aged three. Today, the race covers a distance of one mile, three furlongs, and 211 yards and is limited to fillies. The Ribblesdale Stakes is held on the third day of the Royal Ascot meeting and occasionally features fillies that ran in the Epsom Oaks earlier in the season. Frankie Dettori holds the record for the most jockey wins in the modern era, having won the race eight times between 1995 to 2020. The Ribblesdale Stakes attracts some of the best long-distance female horses.