As the name suggests, the Windsor Castle Stakes is named in honour of Windsor Castle, the Royal residence. It is run over five furlongs on the straight, with the race being limited to two-year-olds. At the time of writing, it is one of the races that is run on the final day of the Royal Ascot meeting. The weight information for the race is nine stone and three pounds, with fillies given an allowance of five pounds. In 1994, Brave Music won the race before being exported to Hong Kong and renamed as Che Sara Sara. 2004’s winner, Chateau Istana, was also exported to Hong Kong.
As with all of the other races of the Royal Ascot meeting, the 2005 renewal of the Windsor Castle Stakes was run at York Racecourse. That was because Ascot itself was closed for redevelopment at the time. Titus Alone won the York version of the race, with Kevin Darley on his back and for trainer Bryan Smart. This Listed contest saw five fillies win it in successive years between 1996 and 2000, with only one filly placing in the ten years between 2012 and 2022. The Windsor Castle Stakes is normally one of the races run during the week of Royal Ascot with a large field.
Located in the English county of Berkshire, Windsor Castle was built in the 11th century in the wake of the Norman invasion by William the Conquerer. It has been used by the reigning monarch as one of their residences since the reign of Henry I. It is the longest occupied palace in all of Europe, with the lavish state departments of the 19th century described by Hugh Roberts, the art historian, as ‘a superb and unrivalled sequence of rooms widely regarded as the finest and most complete expression of later Georgian taste.’ Little wonder, then, that a race is named after it.
When it was built, the idea was that it would project Norman dominance to the outskirts of the capital, as well as look over one of the strategically important parts of the River Thames. It was used as a military headquarters during the tumultuous English Civil War, with Charles II rebuilding much of it after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. A popular tourist attraction, it was used as the main residence of Queen Elizabeth II between 2011 and her death in 2022. The castle’s gardens are quite limited in scale, owing to the fact that it sits on top of steep ground.
Given the link between Queen Elizabeth II and horse racing and the fact that she loved Windsor Castle so much, it is perhaps not all that surprising that the meeting of Royal Ascot eventually had a race named after the Royal residence. Whilst the castle itself remains an important ceremonial location, there is nothing ceremonial about the race that is named in its honour. It is a competitive event that regularly sees large fields taking part, with trainers and owners working to get some experience for their two-year-old flat racers in a competitive environment at one of the sport’s best venues.
About The Race
Between 2012 and 2023, the race took place 12 times. Of those twelve races, the winner was the favourite just three times, whilst five of the Starting Price favourites managed to finish in the top three. Interestingly, seven of the horses that won the race ran out of stall 18 or higher, whilst 11 of the 12 winners had enjoyed a run out within the previous 34 days. Just four of them had won the race that they took part in immediately preceding the Windsor Castle Stakes, so you don’t necessarily need to be looking for a horse that is in a good vein of form before the event gets underway.
One thing that you might want to look out for however, is a horse that knows the distance. All of the 12 winners had run over a distance of five furlongs in the past, whilst eight of them had won over that distance previously. Equally, all 12 winners had run out at least once in the season before taking part in the Windsor Castle Stakes, with nine of them running twice and the same number of horses having notched up at least one victory already in the season. Nine of the 12 winners were successful again in at least one race before the season reached its conclusion.
There have been several winners of the Windsor Castle Stakes over the years who have had long odds. In 2009, for example, Strike the Tiger, trainer by Wesley Ward, was a 33/1 offering when the race got underway. Another interesting fact about the race is that Frankie Dettori, who enjoyed success in the majority of races run at Ascot, saddled 15 runners but never managed to get a winner. Richard Kingscote isn’t too far behind him, having ridden in the race ten times and failed to win it at any point. Meanwhile, some jockeys have won the event several times during their careers.
As you might imagine, there is a fair bit of trivia that we can tell you about the race, with most of it already covered. Pat Eddery is the most successful rider since 1988, with Richard Quinn, Ryan Moore and Johnny Murtagh all having notched up more than one win during their careers. Here is another useful bit of trivia:
Under One Minute Is A Quick Running
Between 1988 and 2023, there were 36 renewals of the Windsor Castle Stakes. Of those, just eight came in at under a minute, suggesting that anything less than a minute is a quick running of the event. The fastest horse to win the race was Titus Alone in 2005, completing it in 57.90. That was at York Racecourse, however, so can be discounted. The next fastest was 59.05, which was the time that Hootenanny needed to win in 2004. The slowest winner was Great Deeds, who needed 1:04.18 to get home in 1993, winning it for Mick Channon and ridden by Richard Quinn.
First Run In 1839
The Windsor Castle Stakes was first run at Ascot over the new mile back in 1839. It wasn’t held at a Royal Meeting until 1880, however. In 1898 the race became a race or 2 year olds and was won by the filly Galopin. During the second world war Windsor racecourse appropriately hosted this race.
As with so many races that take place during the week of Royal Ascot, the Windsor Castle Stakes is named in honour of something to do with the Royal Family. In this case, it is named after the venue that has been part of the Royal households since the days of Henry I. Queen Elizabeth II used it as her official home between 2011 and her death 11 years later. The position of the castle on elevated ground means that there isn’t much land around it, so it isn’t likely that horses will have ridden there all that much, making the link just about the use of the castle by the Royals.
The field for the Windsor Castle Stakes is normally quite large, so it probably shouldn’t be all that surprising that the favourite for the race hasn’t won it all that often in recent years. Between 2012 and 2023, the event was run 12 times and the favourite was victorious just three times. There have been some long-odds winner for the event, including the success of 33/1 offering Strike the Tiger in 2009. Limited to two-year-olds, the race is run over five furlongs on the straight and tends to take around a minute for the leaders to make it all the way home, with anything sub-60 seconds being a quick running.