2024 Royal Ascot Preview: Best Races, Top U.S. Horses, How to Watch and Bet

Royal Ascot England Breeders’ Cup Racecourse horse racing King Charles Queen Elizabeth Wesley Ward George Weaver Jose D’Angelo John Velazquez John Sadler Joel Rosario Eddie Kenneally Missed the Cut Crimson Advocate
The prestigious Royal Ascot meet draws spectators from England and overseas for five days of pomp and circumstance, including an appearance by King Charles, along with elite horse racing. (Eclipse Sportswire)

With the 2024 U.S. Triple Crown season completed, the focus of the horse racing world shifts from Saratoga Race Course to across the pond for one of the most prestigious events on the annual calendar. The five-day Royal Ascot meet begins Tuesday, June 18, at gorgeous Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England. The royal meeting will bring many of the top horses in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and a handful from the U.S., together for 35 races with a total of £10,050,000 (about $12.75 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 because it’s about much more than just horse racing. 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). 

King Charles at Royal Ascot in 2023. (Eclipse Sportswire)

This year will be the second Royal Ascot meet with King Charles III on the throne; Queen Elizabeth II, a leading ambassador for international horse racing, served as monarch for 70 years until her death on Sept. 8, 2022.

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 it is the horses, TV coverage, and betting that are the focus. Enjoy ABR’s guide to the 2024 Royal Ascot meeting.

When It Happens:

The meet runs from Tuesday, June 18 through Saturday, June 22. Seven races are carded each day, and the first post is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. ET (2:30 p.m. local time). The last race each day is scheduled to run at 1:15 p.m. ET (6:15 p.m. local time).

Major Races:

Eight of the 35 races at Royal Ascot are Group 1 stakes (the highest worldwide rating). Three of those Group 1 races are held on opening day, June 18: the Queen Anne Stakes for horses 4 years old and older; the King Charles III Stakes for horses 3 years old and older; and the St. James’ Palace Stakes for 3-year-old colts.

On Wednesday, June 19, horses 4 years old and older will contest the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, and on Thursday, June 20, horses 4 years old and older will square off in a true test of stamina in the Gold Cup at 2 ½ miles.

Fashionable Royal Ascot racegoers. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Two more Group 1 stakes are set for Friday, June 21: the Commonwealth Cup for 3-year-old colts and fillies and the Coronation Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Finally, on Saturday, June 22, horses 4 years old and older will race in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes. The King Charles III Stakes on Tuesday is a five-furlong sprint, and the 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 2024 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, to be held on Nov. 1-2 at Del Mar in California. Winners of these four stakes will receive guaranteed, expenses-paid spots in the starting gate for designated Breeders’ Cup races. The aforementioned Queen Anne Stakes and King Charles III Stakes on Tuesday are “Win and You’re In” qualifiers for the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, respectively. Wednesday’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes is a Challenge Series qualifier for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. The Group 2 Norfolk Stakes, a five-furlong dash held as the opening race on Royal Ascot’s Thursday June 20 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. The races on Saturday, June 22, will be 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. Britney Eurton and Nick Luck will host NBC’s Saturday coverage at Royal Ascot, with Dylan Dreyer on-site for lifestyle reporting and Steve Kornacki serving as insights analyst.

The entire Royal Ascot meet will also be televised live each day on FanDuel TV.

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 BETTwinSpires.com, TVG.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:

Wesley Ward (Eclipse Sportswire)

The American trainer with the best track record at Royal Ascot without question is Wesley Ward, who has won a total of 12 races at Royal Ascot starting with two winners in his first trip back in 2009. The Kentucky-based Ward, who won an Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice jockey in 1984 but transitioned to training in the 1990s, is renowned for developing both 2-year-olds and turf sprinters, and those two groups represent the majority of his winners at the Royal Ascot.

This year, Ward is sending three 2-year-old fillies and one 2-year-old colt to the Royal Ascot meet as he aims to reach the winner’s circle for the first time since 2021. The trainer told Byron King of BloodHorse that his filly Ultima Grace, who won her debut racing 4 ½ furlongs on dirt at Keeneland by 3 ¾ lengths, would contest the Queen Mary Stakes, a Group 2 stakes held at five furlongs on turf on Wednesday, June 19. 

Another one of Ward’s promising juvenile fillies, Saturday Flirt, is targeting the Breeders’ Cup qualifier Norfolk Stakes on Thursday, June 20. That daughter of Mendelssohn won her 5 ½-furlong turf debut at Keeneland by 1 ½ lengths. The last of the trio, Burning Pine, will run in the six-furlong, Group 3 Albany Stakes Friday, June 21, per Ward. Burning Pine won by 3 ½ lengths going 4 ½ furlongs on dirt at Keeneland.

Ward said in an interview with Horse Racing Nation website that Honorary American, a 2-year-old Irish-bred son of Churchill, would travel to Ascot. The colt finished third in his debut at the Belmont at the Big A meet racing 5 ½ furlongs on turf in late May and punched his ticket to England with a solid workout over turf at Keeneland on June 8. Look for him in the listed Windsor Castle Stakes going five furlongs on Wednesday, June 19. Jockey Joel Rosario, who is elected this year to the Hall of Fame, is tabbed to ride all four mounts for Ward.

Crimson Advocate (#9) wins at Royal Ascot. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Last year at Royal Ascot, Crimson Advocate was the only U.S.-based winner at the meet, taking the Queen Mary Stakes by a nose and giving trainer George Weaver his first Royal Ascot win and jockey John Velazquez his fourth career win at the meet. The Nyquist filly is back at age 3 to strive for another trophy, this time targeting the abovementioned King Charles III Stakes on opening Tuesday – but she is transferring from Weaver to trainers John and Thady Gosden and will remain in Europe after Royal Ascot is over, according to Thoroughbred Racing Commentary.

Crimson Advocate earned an automatic berth to the 2023 Royal Ascot meet by winning the Royal Palm Juvenile Fillies Stakes on turf at Gulfstream Park, one of two turf stakes for 2-year-olds at the Hallandale Beach, Fla., track held in the spring that offer qualifying invites to Royal Ascot. This year, another Gulfstream runner is also set to make the trip. Gabaldon, winner of the Royal Palm Juvenile Stakes, will be the first Royal Ascot runner for south Florida-based trainer Jose D’Angelo. D’Angelo will bring Gulfstream Park jockey Emisael Jaramillo with him to ride Gabaldon, who is entered in the Windsor Castle along with Honorary American and another U.S.-based 2-year-old, Cheval de Guerre. That Caravaggio colt, trained by Eddie Kenneally, finished second by a neck in his 5 ½-furlong debut on turf at Keeneland. Oisin Murphy is named to ride Cheval de Guerre.

Lastly, veteran 5-year-old Missed the Cut, a California-based graded stakes winner on both dirt and turf for trainer John Sadler, is targeting the Hardwicke Stakes, a Group 2 stakes on the Saturday, June 22 closing-day card held at 1 ½ miles. Missed the Cut actually began his racing career in England back in 2022 and owns a stakes win on an all-weather track there. He’s in good form this spring, winning two graded stakes on turf at 1 ¼ and 1 ½ miles and most recently finishing second in the 1 ½-mile, Grade 2 VisitLex Elkhorn Stakes on turf at Keeneland. Sadler told Daily Racing Form’s Steve Andersen that British jockey James Doyle has the riding assignment on Missed the Cut.

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Instagram TikTok YouTube
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Instagram TikTok YouTube