Royal Ascot has been a staple of the British horse racing calendar since the beginning of the 1800s making it an incredibly old sporting tradition. The Gold Cup is without a doubt the most anticipated race, thanks to its incredible prize money and long heritage, but that’s not all there is to this four-day festival. We’re going to explore a little of the heritage of Royal Ascot, as well as some of the ways we enjoy and celebrate the festival nowadays, and of course, which horses stand the best chance of taking home some prize money this year.
How the festival started
The first ever inkling of a Royal Ascot came in 1711, when races were held for the first time at Ascot racecourse, many years later in 1768 was when a four-day horse racing event was held for the first time at the same venue. The interesting thing about this race meeting though and the many that followed it, was that they didn’t feature one key race, the Gold Cup. This race would be added to the list only in 1807, but its addition would prove imperative for the continued success of the festival. So successful was Royal Ascot in its early days, that there was no need to hold any other meeting at the Ascot racecourse, so there weren’t any, all the way up until 1939. Nowadays Ascot is home to many great flat racing meetings, where thrills and spills regularly occur. It’s important to be balanced in the view of horse racing, as sometimes it can be a dangerous sport, as we at Descrier covered in this story about Frederik Tylicki. Horses are huge and at times unpredictable animals, which makes the feats that horse and jockey achieve even more incredible.
There are many traditions that we still enjoy today during the Royal Ascot festival. One of the most famous is Ladies Day, which takes place on the Thursday of the festival. It’s during this day that huge emphasis is placed on dress code, with many people, particularly women, opting for extravagant and sometimes even outlandish outfits. Fascinators or hats are part of the dress code, so expect to see many different interesting kinds of headgear. As well as Ladies Day and getting all dressed up, for many people part of the enjoyment of watching the Royal Ascot coverage is placing a bet on the outcome of the races. It’s been traditional for as long as horse racing has been taking place, so it’s easy to see why. If you’re thinking of placing a bet on Royal Ascot this year, then whether you’re a seasoned punter or a complete novice, making sure that you find the right site to bet on is always a good idea. Sports Betting Online offer a totally impartial rundown of sites that offer sports betting, including who is giving out bonuses, whether mobile apps are available and the sort of customer support that you can expect.
Who might win?
With sights firmly set on the Ascot Gold Cup, the big and imposing chestnut horse that is Stradivarius is the horse to beat. He’s won the Gold Cup no less than three times before and competed in it only four times, his single defeat coming in 2021 to a worthy opponent, Subjectivist. At 8 years old, Stradivarius would be one of the oldest winners of the lengthy race, but if any horse has the class and staying power to do it, then it should be him. On his last winning run of the race, he beat his nearest opposition by an incredible 10 lengths, a feat that all horse racing fans would be dying to see again. Trainer John Gosden commented that the horse is fitter than ever and after his commandeering performance at York on the 13th of May, he does seem to be back to his unstoppable best.
However, if there’s one horse to oppose Stradivarius, then it might just be the 6-year-old bay gelding, Trueshan. Unbeaten in his last four starts, Trueshan could really be a fly in the ointment for the Gosdens. On his last trip out he won by an impressive 3 lengths in a good quality listed race, but more impressive still, on his last appearance at Longchamp, he flew home to victory, passing the post four and a half lengths in front of, you guessed it, Stradivarius. With youth on his side and the form to match, maybe Trueshan will be the one to take home the title this year.