With the U.S. Triple Crown season in the books, the focus of the horse racing world shifts on a dime – or in this case, ten pence – across the pond for one of the most prestigious events on the annual calendar. The five-day Royal Ascot meet begins Tuesday, June 14, at gorgeous Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England. The royal meeting will bring many of the top horses in the United Kingdom and Ireland together for 28 races with a total of £8,702,500 (about $10.6 million U.S.) in prize money up for grabs.
Royal Ascot is similar to big U.S. events such as the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup World Championships in that it’s about much more than just horse racing, as the five days are filled with fashion, celebrity watching, and an historic brand of pomp and circumstance tied into the British monarchy (Ascot Racecourse was founded by Queen Anne in 1711).
While the entire Royal Ascot experience is a major attraction for throngs of Brits eager to enjoy a highlight of the summer social calendar in person, for most of us Yanks the horses, TV coverage, and betting are the focus. Enjoy ABR’s guide to the 2022 Royal Ascot meeting.
When It Happens:
The meet runs from Tuesday, June 14 through Saturday, June 18, with each daily card holding seven races. The first post is at 9:30 a.m. ET (2:30 p.m. local time) and the last race each day is scheduled to run at 1:10 p.m. ET (6:10 p.m. local time).
Eight of the 28 races at Royal Ascot are Group 1 stakes, the highest worldwide rating. Three of those are held on opening day, June 14: the Queen Anne Stakes for horses 4 years old and older; the King’s Stand Stakes for horses 3 years old and older; and the St. James’ Palace Stakes for 3-year-old colts.
On Wednesday, June 15, horses 4 years old and older will contest the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, and on Thursday, June 16, horses 4 years old and older will square off in a true test of stamina when the Gold Cup is held at 2 ½ miles.
Two more Group 1 stakes are set for Friday, June 17: the Commonwealth Cup for 3-year-old colts and fillies and the Coronation Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. And finally, on Saturday, June 18, horses 4 years old and older will race in the Platinum Jubilee Stakes. The King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday is a five-furlong sprint, and the Platinum Jubilee on closing day is held at six furlongs – and it’s not unheard of for horses to appear in both of them during the same week.
Four races during the meeting are “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series qualifiers for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, to be held this Nov. 4-5 at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. Winners of these four stakes will receive a guaranteed, expenses-paid spot in the starting gate for a designated Breeder’s Cup race. The aforementioned Queen Anne Stakes and King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday are “Win and You’re In” qualifiers for the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, respectively, while Wednesday’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes is a Challenge Series qualifier for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.
The Group 2 Norfolk Stakes, held as the opening race on Royal Ascot’s Thursday June 16 card, is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.
Where to Watch:
NBC Sports will show racing from Royal Ascot, with the Tuesday to Friday races available on its Peacock streaming service and the races on Saturday, June 18, broadcast live on NBC and also on Peacock, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app starting at 9 a.m. ET. Streaming will begin on Peacock at 8:30 a.m. ET Tuesday through Friday.
The entire Royal Ascot meet will also be televised live each day on TVG.
How to Bet:
Betting on the ponies in the U.K. is different than stateside – you set fixed odds with a bookmaker such as Labrokes or William Hill and go from there. But there’ll be parimutuel pools for U.S. horseplayers via advance deposit wagering (ADW) sites such as NYRA Bets, 1/ST BET, TwinSpires.com, and other entities.
Be sure to keep the time difference in mind: most of the action during Royal Ascot week will be in the morning for East Coast players – and the very early morning for those firing away in the Pacific Time Zone.
Top U.S. Based Horses:
The American trainer with the best track record at Royal Ascot is, without question, Wesley Ward.
Ward began his career as a jockey and won the Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice rider in 1984. He became a trainer in the early 1990s. Over time, he’s established a reputation as an expert in developing both 2-year-old horses and turf sprinters.
Ward has won a total of 12 races at Royal Ascot, starting with Strike the Tiger and Jealous Again from his first trip in 2009. This year, he’ll send a strong group of runners, headlined by grass sprint sensation Golden Pal. The Uncle Mo colt has already accomplished a lot through only nine starts. He’s won both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (2020) and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (2021) and also finished second in the 2020 Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot in only his second career race. That gives him familiarity with Ascot’s course, and Golden Pal is listed as possible for both the King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday and the Platinum Jubilee Stakes on Saturday.
Another Ward trainee getting a lot of pre-Ascot buzz is Love Reigns. The 2-year-old filly made her debut at Keeneland on April 29 and romped in a 5 ½-furlong turf sprint by 9 ¾ lengths. She’s scheduled to run in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes, the opening race on Royal Ascot’s Wednesday card, which is held at five furlongs.
And last but not least from the Ward group, 4-year-old filly Campanelle will be returning to Royal Ascot for the third consecutive year … and seeking her third consecutive victory. In 2020, she did what Love Reigns will attempt to do this year, taking her debut in the U.S. and then winning the Queen Mary Stakes. Last June, she won the Commonwealth Stakes by disqualification. Now, Ward is pointing her to the Platinum Jubilee Stakes on Saturday. Campanelle won her season debut at Keeneland in the Giant’s Causeway Stakes by 2 ½ lengths. On June 7, Ward told Britain’s At the Races that Irad Ortiz Jr., a three-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey, would have the mount on all of his Royal Ascot horses.
Top turf trainers Christophe Clement and Graham Motion are also headed to Royal Ascot. Clement will send the top-class filly Pizza Bianca to the Coronation Stakes on Friday. Pizza Bianca won last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf for owner Bobby Flay and shook off a runner-up finish in her 2022 debut with a next-out win in the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico on May 20. Clement’s Slipstream, winner of the Palisades Stakes at Keeneland back in April, will also chase a Group 1 win Friday in the Commonwealth Stakes.
Kentucky Derby-winning Graham Motion, a native of Cambridge, England, has sent some nice horses to Royal Ascot on occasion, and he’ll have unbeaten 3-year-old filly Spendarella on hand at this year’s festival. She’s raced three times in her career, all earlier this year, and already has two graded stakes wins on her résumé, the Herecomesthebride Stakes at Gulfstream Park and the Appalachian Stakes Presented by JRA at Keeneland. Spendarella will square off with Pizza Bianca in a must-watch Coronation Stakes Friday.
Kentucky-based trainer Rusty Arnold, a fixture on the state's racing circuit for over 40 years, made his Royal Ascot debut in 2021 and he sends two 2-year-olds to this week’s meet. His filly Grand Oak, an Irish-bred daughter of Speightstown, finished a distant second in her debut on dirt at Keeneland but showed much improvement May 20 when switched to turf at Churchill Downs, romping by 4 ¼ lengths in a five-furlong race. She squares off with Love Reigns in the Queen Mary on Wednesday’s card.
Finally, four-time Breeders’ Cup-winning trainer Wayne Catalano will send his very first horse to Royal Ascot this year. Andthewinneris, an impressive maiden winner at Keeneland, will target the listed Chesham Stakes on June 18, the opening race on Ascot’s final day. The 2-year-old daughter of 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Oscar Performance won by a widening two lengths in her debut going 5 ½ furlongs. She’ll stretch out to seven furlongs in the Chesham with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard.