Royal Ascot 2017: Meet Highlights

June 16, 2017 12:45pm
Tepin Queen Anne 615 X 400
Photo: Ascot Racecourse

Royal Ascot only lasts five days, but within the short meet, you would be hard pressed to find five better days of racing anywhere in the world. Founded more than 300 years ago by Queen Anne, Ascot Racecourse is a shining example of horse racing at its very best. A short trip from Windsor Castle, the meeting attracts the British Royal Family, as well as many of the globe's finest turf horses. Just days away from the start of the meet, let's take an early look at some of what are sure to be many highlights, and don't forget, for the first time you can follow the action on NBC Sports.


Tuesday, June 20

The meet begins with a bang as some of the best milers in the world will compete in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, including Ribchester, who looms the favorite off his impressive win in last month's Lockinge Stakes. Here in the States, how can we ever forget this is the race in which the star mare, Tepin won a thrilling edition for America last year.


This year, the United States will be represented by WinStar Farm's American Patriot. The Todd Pletcher trained colt won the Grade 1 Makers 46 Mile at Keeneland in his most recent start. Expected to join him will be the multiple Grade 1 winning mare, Miss Temple City, making her first start of 2017. She has run well in two previous starts at Royal Ascot, but had to settle for fourth-place results both years. While the Queen Anne appears likely for the five-year-old daughter of Temple City, there is still a chance her connections opt for the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes instead.


Other highlights of opening day at Royal Ascot include the Group 1 St. James's Palace Stakes, where Thunder Snow will take another shot at the top sophomore in Europe, Churchill. The talented Barney Roy may have a say in this one, as well.

Not to be outdone by the big races at a mile will be the Wesley Ward trained Lady Aurelia. Like Tepin, the talented daughter of Scat Daddy was a winner at Royal Ascot in 2016. This year, she will look to take home a Group 1 trophy in the King's Stand Stakes at five furlongs, and looms the one to beat for Stonestreet Stable. Lady Aurelia will be one of several runners brought over by Ward this season. Take a look at her stunning win in last year's Queen Mary Stakes ...



Wednesday, June 21

Day two at Royal Ascot is topped by the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes. The 1 1/4-mile test is arguably the race of the meeting. It will not be won by an American, but a trio of runners who have done big things on U.S. turf, including a pair of wins in last fall's Breeders' Cup, will try to add to their international resumes, in Highland Reel, Deauville, and Queen's Trust. It will be no easy task for any, though, as the race is also expected to feature the likes of Jack Hobbs, Ulysses, Decorated Knight, and Hawkbill just to name a few.


If Miss Temple City does not run in the Queen Anne on Tuesday, Wednesday will be her day, as she attempts to find victory in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, after finishing fourth of 14 in this race in 2016. 


Thursday, June 22

The middle day of Royal Ascot features the marathoners in the Ascot Gold Cup. Order of St. George, who won this race last year for trainer Aidan O'Brien, again figures the one to beat in the 2 1/2-mile Group 1 event. If he does so, it will be at the direct expense of a tough bunch of distance specialists, including Big Orange, Simple Verse, and Sheikhzayedroad.


A few races earlier on the Thursday card, look for trainer Wesley Ward to have a big chance in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes for juveniles going five furlongs. His charge this year is McErin, who won his debut smartly at Keeneland, before finishing third in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes. The Trappe Shot colt will look to give Ward his second win in the Norfolk, having won in 2013 with No Nay Never.


Friday, June 23

A pair of Group 1 events are carded for the penultimate afternoon at the Royal meeting. The Commonwealth Cup, for three-year-old sprinters could well be another showcase for the impressive Caravaggio. The American-bred son of Scat Daddy is unbeaten so far, winning all five races to date in England and Ireland.

The other Group 1 race of Friday afternoon is the one mile Coronation Stakes for three-year-old fillies. It will not be an easy test, headed by the hot favorite, Winter, but off her excellent American form, La Coronel certainly rates a chance for the Mark Casse barn; the same barn who successfully raided Royal Ascot last year with Tepin.


Saturday, June 24

Royal Ascot 2017 closes out with a card featuring top sprinters going six furlongs in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Top European sprinter, Limato is the one to beat in the six furlong affair, but America will again be in with a shot, as the Bill Mott barn brings over the honest veteran, Long On Value. The six-year-old comes off this heartbreaking loss last time in the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai ...

 

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Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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