A flat handicap race for horses aged three and over, the Wokingham Stakes is run over six furlongs on the straight. During the race’s early years, it was separated out into several different classes but was combined into one event in 1874.
It is run on the final day of the Royal Ascot meeting and is one of a number of handicap events, meaning that the official handicapper decides how much weight each horse should carry. Their hope would be for all horses to finish the race at the same time, but obviously that has never happened.
That is good news for people looking to place bets on the Wokingham Stakes, given the fact that it means that there might just be some value to be found. Any horse that appears to be out-performing its level can be looked at as one to have a wager on; though it is obviously worth bearing in mind that every winner ever has managed to out-perform its expectation to some degree, given it’s been able to cope with the weight it has been asked to carry. The six furlongs race is one that offers plenty of excitement to the watching audience, given the speed it is run at.
The Wokingham Stakes is named in honour of Wokingham, the market town that can be located close to Ascot Racecourse. ‘Wokingham’ apparently means ‘Wocca’s people’s home,’ with ‘Wocca’ reportedly being a Saxon chieftain who may well have owned land in the local area, including in Berkshire and Surrey. It has Royal connections, on account of the fact that Queen Elizabeth granted it a town charter back in 1583. It is a town that has less association with horses and more with bulls, given that it was famous for the bull-baiting that took place there in the past.
When the Wokingham Stakes was first run back in 1813, it was actually split into three separate classes depending on the horses. This remained the case until 1874, which was the point at which it was united into one single race. As a result, the statistics for the race run from 1874 until the modern day, with five different horses having won the event twice between then and 2023. The first was the appropriately named Wokingham, who won it in 1881 and 1882. Portland Bay managed it in 1908 and 1908, then Concerto was successful in both 1932 and 1933.
Selhurstpark Flyer was victorious in both 1997 and 1998, bringing the two-race winners into the modern era, whilst the most recent horse to pull it off was Rohaan in 2021 and 2022. In terms of jockeys, there have been seven that have enjoyed success more than once, with all of Fred Archer, Otto Madden, Harry Wragg, Jack Sirett, Lester Piggott, Willie Carson and Johnny Murtagh all enjoying three wins in the race during their careers. Interestingly, only Harry Wragg did so thanks to one of the double-winning horses, being the jockey for the two wins of Concerto.
About The Race
The Wokingham Stakes is considered to be one of the most prestigious handicap sprint races of the flat season, sitting alongside races such as the Ayr Gold Cup and the Stewards’ Cup in that category. The quality of the race is such that some of the horses also go on to perform well in Group races, including the likes of Petong, who won the Haydock Sprint Cup. In 2004 and 2005, favourites delighted the punters by enjoying back-to-back success thanks to Lafi and Iffraaj. It was a sea-change from the year before, in which Dead Heat rules came into play for Fayr Jag and Ratio.
There aren’t any races that have proven to be obvious trail events for the Wokingham Stakes, although the past suggests that previous experience at Ascot has been an advantage. At one point, ten of the 12 previous winners had enjoyed a run out at the venue before taking part in this race, whilst four of them had won here. There is also little to learn from the age of the winner, with the seven races between 2017 and 2023 seeing three five-year-olds win, two four-year-olds and one each of a three-year-old and an eight-year-old, suggesting it’s as much about the horse’s quality as anything else.
In spite of the fact that it is scheduled to be run on the final day of the meeting, don’t let that give you the impression that there isn’t anything exciting about the Wokingham Stakes. It often attracts some of the very best sprinters in flat racing and is an extremely competitive event. You can also expect some shocks when it comes to the Starting Price of the eventual winner, such as in 2023 when Saint Lawrence made it home the fastest as the 20/1 outsider. In fact, only one of the ten races up to and including the 2023 renewal were the favourites heading into the start of the race.
As you can imagine, there is a fair bit of trivia associated with a race that has been taking place since 1813, with most of it covered already. There is something else that you might want to consider before you look to place any bets on the race, though, which we’ll look at closer here:
Look At Longer Starting Prices
The modern records for the race date from 1980, which gives us a nice sample size to be able to look at the race as a whole. During the period between then and 2023, the race took place 44 times. Of those 44 runnings, the Starting Price favourite for the race only won it on eight occasions.
In other words, the favourite only won the race around 18% of the time. The horse’s age and how much they were asked to carry always differed, but the winner was given odds of 20/1 or higher 14 times during the same period. It is statistically more likely the winner will have long odds than be the favourite.
Run over six furlongs, the Wokingham Stakes is one of the most respected handicap races for sprinters on the flat racing calendar. Beginning life in 1813, it was originally an event split into several different races but has been run as a combined one since 1874. Five horses have won the race twice at the time of writing, whilst seven jockeys share the honour of having won it on three occasions, with the only crossover being thanks to the two wins that Harry Wragg led Concerto to in 1932 and 1933. The race is named after the nearby town of Wokingham, with a horse called Wokingham being one of those to win it twice.
It sits alongside races such as the Ayr Gold Cup and the Stewards’ Cup as a handicap for sprinters, encouraging some of the best in the business to be entered into it. Some of the horses go on to do well in the likes of Group races, with Petong winning this before going on to success in the Haydock Sprint Cup. When it comes to what to bet on, you are statistically more likely to enjoy success if you pick a horse with odds of 20/1 or greater than you are if you bet on the favourite, given the fact that the favourite won the race eight times out of 44, whilst a horse priced at 20/1 or longer won 14 times.