Horse Racing

Royal Ascot Winners – Most Memorable Horses and Races in History

Royal Ascot is one of Britain’s biggest race meetings, it may even be the biggest. It’s certainly the highlight of the flat season, as five days of premier racing take place at the famous Berkshire venue.

Best Races Royal Ascot
Photo by Icon Sport

Each year, several new pieces of history are carved out at Royal Ascot, and over the years, there’s been many, many memorable moments, but which races from Royal Ascot’s vast back catalogue stand out the most? Which races have been the most noteworthy? It’s time to delve into the archive.

Estimate gives Queen Elizabeth II first Gold Cup success

Naturally, Queen Elizabeth II reigned over many Royal Ascots and owning many top horses over the years, she had several winners, but few are more noteworthy than Estimate, who gave the late monarch a memorable victory in what is arguably Royal ascot’s flagship event.

Despite owning some top performers, many of which have done the business in a variety of Royal Ascot races, the Royal Family had never won the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. In 2013, Estimate, trained by Michael Stoute, changed that.

In 2012, Estimate shaped as though he may just be the missing piece of the late Queen’s Gold Cup puzzle when he romped to victory in the Queen’s Vase over two miles. A year later he was back for a crack at the big prize and he duly delivered, but it was a real nail biting finish, making the success all the more sweet.

In the Royal colours, under top jockey Ryan Moore, Estimate was produced to hit the front inside the final furlong, but unlike his victory in the Queen’s Vase the previous year, he didn’t pull away. Instead, Simenon battle back on the near side, just failing, leaving Estimate a neck in front at the line. A memorable horse and a very memorable moment.

Black Caviar comes from down under to dazzle Royal Ascot

2012 was a good year for Royal Ascot, and not just because Queen Elizabeth II witnessed a vital part of Estimate’s journey to Gold Cup success when winning the Queen’s Vase, oh no. 2012 was also the year that a certain Australian performer travelled across the globe to put on a show at the Berkshire course.

Arguably one of the greatest flat horses of all time, perhaps the best sprinter that the sport has even seen, in any country, Black Caviar trained by top Australian trainer Peter Moody, travelled to Royal Ascot having won 21 races in her native Australia, where she was unbeaten and widely considered the best horse in the land. She’d claimed prestigious prizes such as the BTC Cup. Making the long trip to British shores for a crack at the Diamond Jubilee Stakes would come next.

Even the best horses struggle to win outside of their own country, but Black Caviar was strongly fancied to take the journey in her stride and was sent off as the 1/6 favourite. She travelled well just off the front and took the lead in smooth fashion with a furlong to go, though jockey Luke Nolen couldn’t get her to stride clear and very nearly lost the race when easing down perhaps a few strides too early, but the charging Moonlight Cloud couldn’t quite get there and Black Caviar maintained her unbeaten record, winning by a head, etching her name into Royal Ascot once and for all.

Lady Aurelia shows that she’s the queen in the Queen Mary

In 2016, two-year-old Lady Aurelia put on one of the most dazzling performances in recent memory when winning the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot.

On just her second ever racecourse appearance, the filly was sent off as the 2-1 favourite and it quickly became evident why. Over the five-furlong Dash, Lady Aurelia jumped out quickly and went the front, lobbing along in the lead, she travelled powerfully until leaving her rivals in her wake one furlong from home, scooting clear in incredibly decisive fashion. There and then, a special sprinter was born. She returned a year later to confirm she quality when beating the opposite sex in the King’s Stand Stakes, again shooting clear to win impressively.

Brown Jack leaves Champion Hurdle for Queen Alexandra Stakes glory

Back in the late 1920’s Brown Jack was one of the best hurdlers in the sport. He won the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, before showing the type of versatility that has rarely been seen since in a top horse.

After winning the 1928 Champion Hurdle, Brown Jack, started to race on the flat, at the behest of his new trainer Ivor Anthony. What came next was both unexpected and unprecedented. The gelding won the Queen Alexandra Stakes in 1929, before successfully defending his crown in each of the following five seasons, winning his final race at Royal Ascot in 1934. A remarkable achievement that will likely never be matched.

Frankel shows his class in the Queen Anne Stakes

In 2010, an exciting flat prospect called Frankel emerged at Newmarket, winning a maiden race cosily when sent off the well-backed favourite. Many with impressed with his performance that day but few could’ve predicted what would follow.

The two-year-old won three more times before the season finished, showing that he was perhaps a once-in-a-generation horse when winning the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.¬†Over the following two seasons, it turned out that Frankel wasn’t just a once-in-a-generation horse, but a once-in-a-lifetime horse, as he breezed through each and every assignment thrown his way by late trainer Henry Cecil.

What was arguably Frankel’s most impressive win came at Royal Ascot in 2012, when he annihilated a high-class field of Group 1 performers over a mile in the Queen Anne Stakes. Even those horses that win multiple Group 1 races seldom make beating other Group 1 horses look easy, but Frankel did, and it was in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2012, where he showed everyone that he was simply in a league of his own.


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