Click above to watch an interview with Henry Cecil discussing Royal Ascot 2011
(Image : Telegraph - Footage : At The Races UK)
Tuesday 14th to Saturday 18th June 2011
The G1 King’s Stand Stakes looks below-par this year, and with no Black Caviar (Aus) (Bel Esprit), the best Antipodean offering is Star Witness (Aus) (Starcraft), who was only seventh behind her in Flemington’s G1 Newmarket Handicap when last seen March 12. What this year’s edition lacks in star quality - which also applies to Saturday’s G1 Golden Jubilee Stakes - it makes up for in diversity, as the runners hail from the States, Hong Kong, Hungary, France and Germany as well as Australia, Britain and Ireland. Probably the most important juvenile race of the meeting also takes place on the opening day and all eyes will be on Ballydoyle’s Power (GB) (Oasis Dream) as he bids to provide Aidan O’Brien with a sixth renewal.
Few will get rich on Goldikova, Canford Cliffs and Frankel today, and even fewer will have the firepower it takes to make a healthy profit from So You Think (NZ) (High Chaparral) in tomorrow afternoon’s G1 Prince of Wales’ Stakes. Forecast at 1-2 at best at present, the brilliant dual G1 Cox Plate hero has had a relatively soft time of things in the Emerald Isle so far, but the gloves will have to come off if last year’s runner-up Twice Over (GB) (Observatory) can regain some momentum after unplaced efforts in Dubai and Newbury. To a large extent, the betting is not a factor here, as Royal Ascot wants to see a star, and the noises from Ballydoyle suggest we will see one.
Wesley Ward, who has taken France by storm over the past few weeks, is looking for a third juvenile success at the meeting and there are exciting things expected from his G2 Queen Mary Stakes representative Gypsy Robin (Daaher).
Thursday’s G1 Gold Cup is missing last year’s hero Rite of Passage (GB) (Giant’s Causeway), but in Fame and Glory (GB) (Montjeu) this fixture’s historic showpiece still has a fascinating draw. What Aidan O’Brien did with Yeats (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells) is now the stuff of legend, and to show that was no aberration, Ballydoyle nearly repeated the feat of transferring middle-distance class over this marathon trip with Age of Aquarius (Ire) (Galileo) 12 months ago. Success here would also be a major boost for Jim and Fitri Hay following their recent investment in the sport and high-profile link with Coolmore.
ROYAL ASCOT 2011
Tuesday 14th June
The opening day of what is sure to be a spectacular Royal Meeting gets off to a flying start with three Group 1 races (i.e. the very best in the world); the Queen Anne Stakes, the King’s Stand Stakes - the first British leg of the Global Sprint Challenge – and the St James’s Palace Stakes.
As the first day of Royal Ascot, the fashion stakes are high but the atmosphere is relaxed which allows racegoers the chance to enjoy a glass of Champagne between races or explore the racecourse at their leisure.
The highlight of the second day is the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes, arguably the most important race at the Royal Meeting in the modern era with £400,000 prize money on offer.
Also on the card are the Group 2 Windsor Forest Stakes, for older female milers and the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes, for the best up and coming two year old fillies (females).
Wednesday is perfect for groups of friends to enjoy the Royal Ascot experience at a slightly more gentle pace.
Thursday’s highlight is the Group 1 Gold Cup, a battle of stamina and determination over two miles and four furlongs - this undisputed long distance world championship is not for the faint hearted!
Style, elegance and the height of the summer social calendar all combine on Gold Cup Day, colloquially known as ‘Ladies’ Day’. Although the whole week of Royal Ascot is a fashion show like no other, it is Thursday when the designer creations and millinery masterpieces reach new heights.
To commemorate 300 years of racing, the Hampton Court Stakes has been renamed the Tercentenary Stakes.
Friday 17th June
The feature race on Friday is the Coronation Stakes, which traditionally brings together the leading three-year-old fillies in Europe.
Also on the card is the King Edward VII Stakes, colloquially called the Ascot Derby, as its conditions mirror those of the Epsom Classic.
This is the perfect way to start the weekend with friends and work colleagues.
Saturday 18th June
The final day of the Royal Meeting always provides a dramatic climax and features one of the world’s most important and international races, the Golden Jubilee Stakes, - the second British leg of the Global Sprint Challenge.
Saturday is a relatively new addition to the Royal Meeting, having been introduced as recently as 2002. Although the fashions are as elaborate as they are during the week, there is a pronounced, relaxed family feel as many people who are unable to attend until the weekend come to enjoy the experience of the greatest race meeting in the world.
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News and Royal Ascot