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The Guide to Royal Ascot

One of the world's most high-class annual thoroughbred fixtures is the venerable Royal Ascot meeting. The focal point of the summer flat racing season, and a key date on the social calendar for blue-bloods from all walks of life, this four day event features a number of exciting contests that attract contenders from all four corners of the globe.

Originally run back in 1711, Royal Ascot is run in Berkshire, England – just a few miles away from Windsor Castle. The race meeting retains a very close connection with the Royal Family and the Queen makes an appearance on each day of racing.

While the media tends to focus more on what the patrons are wearing than who's crossing the line first, Royal Ascot betting continues to grow. A number of popular bookmakers will usually offer up a nice selection of betting promotions or enhanced odds on major races.

Since the racing is of such a high caliber, Royal Ascot remains a choice destination for novice punters looking to wager on some consistent races.

Each day of the five day meet is anchored by at least one major Group 1 race with several other Group 2's, handicap or listed contests filling out the card. Ascot hosts a number of other big flat races and National Hunt meetings, but the general rule of thumb is that Ascot is at it's best during the Royal Ascot meeting.

The bulk of Royal Ascot runners tend to be based in either the UK or Ireland but the meeting definitely attracts a who's-who from the European turf circuit while an increasing amount of North American connections have begun sending higher-profile selections to Berkshire. In fact, the 2011 Royal Ascot had more foreign entries than any previous iteration.

The shippers from North America are generally running at a lower level than the ones contesting European Group 1's on the grass so a strong race-record in America may not translate to a world-beater on the Ascot stage.

Royal Ascot Day 1

Day One is considered one of the most exciting with three Group 1 contests unfolding as the Queen Anne, King's Stand and St. James's Palace Stakes are all run on the opening day. The Group 2 Coventry Stakes is followed by the Ascot Stakes – which is run as a handicap. The Windsor Castle Stakes – a listed contest is the final race on the card.

Royal Ascot Day 2

Day Two opens with the Group 3 Jersey Stakes and the Group 2 Windsor Forest Stakes. The day's feature is the Prince of Wales's Stakes – a Group 1 event for older colts and geldings running at a classic distance of 1m2f.

The Royal Hunt Cup is a Heritage Handicap and runs afterwards while the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes is also contested. Look for the Sandringham Handicap, a listed race, as the nightcap.

Royal Ascot Day 3

Day Three is anchored by the marathon staying contest the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup – where contenders go a 2m4f distance. Yeats famously won this race four years on the bounce and it is considered a benchmark race for true staying types.

The Borfolk Stakes and the Ribblesdale Stakes are a pair of Group 2 contests run on day three while the Britannia Stakes (a Heritage Handicap) and the Group 3 Tercentenary Stakes are run after the feature. The last race of the day is the King George V Stakes – a Class 2 Handicap.

Royal Ascot Day 4

Day Four opens with the Group 3 Albany Stakes and is followed by the prestigious Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes. The feature race on the day is for the ladies with the Group 1 Coronation Stakes offering up a hefty purse to the best three-year-old female miler.

The race was originally run to mark the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1840. The Group 3 Queen's Vase and the listed Wilferton Handicap are also run. The Buckingham Palace Handicap is the final race on the card.

Royal Ascot Day 5

Day Five offers up the listed Chesham stakes as the opener before moving on to the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes. The main event is the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes, formerly known as the All Ages Stakes, and it draws the top sprinters from across the globe.

Won by Starspangledbanner in 2010, this 6f contest carries one of the best prizes of the week's card. Following the feature, punters are treated to a trio of Class 2 contests with the Wokingham Stakes and Duke of Edinburgh Handicap preceding the Queen Alexandra Stakes.

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