Queen Elizabeth II Stakes

AfsareThe Queen Elizabeth II Stakes is a one mile Group 1 race staged at Ascot in October. It is now part of the British Champions Day card and attracts some of the best milers in training. This British horse race now boasts a prize fund in excess of £1,000,000 and is the final of the mile category in the British Champions Series.

Origins

The race was first held under the name of the Knights’ Royal Stakes in September 1947 with victory going to Tudor Minstrel. In 1955 it was renamed in honour of Queen Elizabeth II and was won by the French-trained Hafiz.

The race was originally given Group 2 status but was elevated to Group 1 level in 1987. Between 2008 and 2012, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes was part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge with the winner gaining automatic invitation for the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Past winners

Only two horses have won the race twice. The great Brigadier Gerard (image below) was successful in 1971 and 1972 with Rose Bowl matching his achievement in 1975/76. The latter was ridden by Willie Carson who is by far the most successful jockey in the history of the race with eight victories.

brigadier gerard

Brigadier Gerard won the race by eight lengths as a three-year-old and returned the following season to set a new course record as he beat Sparkler by six lengths. He retired at the end of the season having won 17 of his 18 races. In 1975, Rose Bowl was rated 133 after her victory, a figure that had been surpassed only by Coronation (1949) and Petite Etoile (1959) in the three-year-old fillies division.

The race enjoyed a golden era in the late 70’s and early 80’s with Kris (1979), Known Fact (1980) and To-Agori-Mou (1981) adding their names to the roll of honour. Popular gelding Teleprompter won the race in 1984 and champion milers Shadeed (1985), Warning (1988), Zilzal (1989) and Selkirk (1991) also claimed victory in the race.

In 1995, Willie Carson rode Bahri to victory after steering him to the outside rail under the trees in search of the better ground. This unconventional move proved successful as he came home by six lengths from the odds-on favourite Ridgewood Pearl.

Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor have won the race five times including Dubai Millenium in 1999. After the colt had raced clear to win by six lengths, his owner Sheikh Mohammed declared him to be the best horse that he had ever owned. He went on to fulfil his owner’s dream by winning the Dubai World Cup the following season but tragically died after only one year at stud.

Even Dubai Millennium was eclipsed by the performance of Frankel in 2011 when he recorded a figure of 143, the fourth-highest rating in history, after defeating Excelebration by four lengths. Frankel retired unbeaten after 14 races and is generally acknowledged as the greatest racehorse of all time.

Betting on the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes

There is a strong ante-post betting market on the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes with prices marked up by bookmakers over a month before the race. Betfair and Coral were the first to price up the race in 2013. It is a natural target for the top milers in training so it is guaranteed to provide a competitive market.

Queen Elizabeth II Stakes 2013

The 2013 early prices centre on the three-year-olds and the Richard Hannon-trained pair of Olympic Glory and Toronado. Olympic Glory disappointed in the French Guineas but came back from a long layoff to finish an excellent second in France behind Moonlight Cloud.

Toronado finally got the better of 2000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach when winning the Sussex Stakes but he has since run poorly at York behind Declaration Of War. Godolphin, owners of Dawn Approach, also has Farhh entered in the race. He looked set for an excellent season when running away with the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury but has not raced since due to injury.

Other possible runners include 1000 Guineas winner Sky Lantern and her Newmarket conqueror Elusive Kate. Luca Cumani’s talented but temperamental Afsare has put himself back in the picture with decisive victories at Salisbury and Goodwood whilst Magician would be a threat if able to reproduce the form of his Irish Guineas victory.

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