Every year, Ascot fills with trainers, jockeys and punters eager for a festival of racing. Yet the real stars of the show are the horses, who compete to land a spot in the history books. Royal Ascot has been a haven for these legends for many years, with more to come. Below, we discuss our pick of the three most loved Ascot legends.
This year’s event, like all previous meetings, promises to be a nail-biting affair. As the horse racing betting heats up, several favourites for big races like the Queen Anne Stakes and the Gold Cup are already emerging. Emily Dickinson has retained its place as the favourite for this year’s race, with 7/1 odds. This will undoubtedly change in the run-up to the big day. With many people choosing to place ante-post bets for the best odds on Royal Ascot, you need to beat the crowd in the run-up to the event and bet early. Only then can you look back and say “I backed that horse” when it becomes a legend.
There have been many horses that have written their name in the history books. In terms of staying power, Yeats has to be the trainer’s favourite. He won races consecutively from 2006 to 2009, always bagging the prestigious Gold Cup. Jockey Johnny Murtagh even described him as the equine equivalent of Muhammad Ali, while the racecourse now has a bronze statue of him erected in the parade ring.
Originally, he had been eyed up as a middle-distance staying horse. Yet around the age of five, his trainer, Aidan O’Brien, noticed his potential as a longer-distance runner in. His first Gold Cup was won by four lengths, also bagged wins in Ireland and France to show off his potential. With a fantastic 15 wins from 26 runs, his legacy is still talked about today.
Another horse with its own statue at Ascot is Brown Jack. He started his career jumping over hurdles and then switched to flat racing later. His first achievement was claiming second place in the 1928 Champion Hurdle. Then switching, he pulled off an astounding feat of winning the Queen Alexandra Stakes consecutively for six years, going from 1929 to 1934. His other accolade includes winning the Goodwood, Doncaster and Chester Cups.
On each of these wins, he was ridden by jockey Steve Donoghue. A son of a steelworker, Donoghue had no affiliation with racing until he won a prize for riding a donkey at the local fair. He then left school at 14 years old to go and train, working for several stables before building an impressive resume that made him one of the top sportsmen of his day.
From 2018 to 2020, Stradivarius had three consecutive wins in the Gold Cup. The chestnut was bred locally to Ascot and was named Mighty Mouse by those in his stables because of his slight frame and stature. Trained by John Gosden, he was ridden by Frankie Dettori.
He is most famous for an outstanding three-year campaign, where he managed to win 10 races in a row. These included the Lonsdale Cup, Goodwood Cup and Ascot Gold Cup. His four Goodwood Cups were all won by the age of 7.
There are many others, such as Sagaro, Ardross and Black Caviar. Every year, more of these legends are made. But can you pick out which ones will triumph this year?
Feature image: Photo by Philippe Oursel on Unsplash