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The King’s Stand Stakes

LD
Lady Aurelia
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History

Most races echo historic events or commemorate important figures. This Group 1 Ascot race, though, was established by accident. But for Britain’s inclement weather, indeed, it would not even exist. The King’s Stand Stakes, a 5 furlong (1,000 metres) burn-up for three-year-old and older sprinters, came about in 1860 when heavy rain and muddy conditions meant the two-mile Royal Stand Plate could not be run. An impromptu event was thus organised, over the only raceable section of the track. The rest, as they say, is history.

We may expect to find it tough to beat the Aussies at cricket and rugby, but in this race we’ve found it hard to beat them at horseracing too. Four times in recent years, a sprinter from down under has landed the prize, each time in the horse’s first ever race in Europe. Choisir started the trend in 2003 – four days later he doubled up in the Golden Jubilee Stakes over a furlong further – and Takeover Target took the race in 2006. A year later it was the brilliant filly Miss Andretti’s turn and in 2009 Scenic Blast was triumphant.

Takeover Target is worth particular mention.  Owned and trained by a New South Wales taxi driver, he cost just £500 at the sales thanks to his dodgy legs yet ended up winning races in Japan and Singapore as well as in the UK and Australia, amassing over £2m in prize money in the process.

Current leading jockey: Olivier Peslier, 2 wins (1997, 2008)
Current leading trainer: Peter Makin, 2 wins (1991, 1993); Edward Lynam (2013, 2014); Robert Cowell (2011, 2015)

Previous winners

Year Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Prize money

Entries

Going/Track

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No/Draw Horse/Jockey Age Form/Type BHA Rating Weight Trainer Odds

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Lady Aurelia dazzles for America

Flying filly Lady Aurelia, trained in America by Wesley Ward, produced a devastating display to land the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Runaway winner of the Queen Mary Stakes at last year’s meeting, Lady Aurelia breezed to another emphatic success under John Velazquez, who replaced the injured Frankie Dettori.

Lady Aurelia, sent off at 7-2, travelled powerfully throughout the five-furlong contest before unleashing a fine turn of foot, which swept the three-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy clear of the rest of the field in a matter of strides to register an easy success.

Last year’s winner Profitable (14-1), trained by Clive Cox, stayed on well to finish three lengths behind the runaway winner in second, with a head back to Sir Mark Prescott’s Marsha, the well-backed 11-4 favourite, in third. The victory was a fraction outside the course record.

Lady Aurelia became the first horse from Wesley Ward’s stable to win twice at Royal Ascot and the trainer expressed his delight and admiration for his star filly.

“That was awesome. Lady Aurelia is a very special filly,” he said. “You never know [what will happen]. This is a Group One with some of the fastest horses in the world, and to duplicate what she did last year, she is a once in a lifetime horse.

“She loves it over here. We look forward to a really big summer and then the Breeders’ Cup. The owners are so excited. It is wonderful for American racing.

“She has immense talent and immense speed. Hopefully, with the experience she has now, she should get better and better.”

Ward suggested that a tilt at another QIPCO British Champions Series contest, the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York in August, would be next on the agenda for the US-bred filly, for which she is an Even money favourite with Paddy Power and Ladbrokes.

Ward also hinted that the filly could remain in training as a four-year-old, adding: “The owners are sportsmen and sportswoman and I would say that as long as she keeps sound, she will carry on racing.”

Velasquez said: “It makes my job a lot easier when they do it like that. All I was worried about was her just using up too much energy in the first part of the race. What a feeling, when you ask a horse to run and they respond like that. You feel so comfortable and know they are running as fast as they can.

“When a horse is travelling so beautifully and responds right away when you ask, you can’t get better than that.”

Profitable did n0t disappoint the Godolphin charge’s handler, Clive Cox, who said: “He is a proven Group One performer, and he has rubber stamped that today. It would have been nicer if we had been drawn a bit closer together [with Lady Aurelia], but fair play to her.”

Sir Mark Prescott, trainer of Marsha, said: “She got beaten a head by last year’s winner, and, of course, then there is Lady Aurelia. You know how fast this filly is and she was never on the bridle. It shows what a great race it was.”
 

Results

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The Course

British horseracing can lay claim to plenty of blue-blooded connections, but none rival those of Ascot. The Berkshire racecourse’s roots go back 300 years to Queen Anne, who recognised the potential of a stretch of heath land while out riding just a few miles from Windsor Castle.

  • Course plan Ascot Champions Day Course Plan#
  • Course Intro

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The royal link has endured ever since. Today, Queen Elizabeth II and members of the Royal Family attend the world-famous ‘Royal Ascot’ meeting each year, arriving in a horse drawn carriage. Royal Ascot, meanwhile, has earned iconic status as a centrepiece of the social calendar, when the world’s best thoroughbreds face fierce competition from the world’s most extravagant fashion designs.

Ascot, which underwent a £200 million redevelopment between 2004-6, also hosts the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes sponsored by QIPCO in July, the most prestigious open-age Flat race staged in Britain.

It will also host the inaugural QIPCO British Champions Day in October which will be the richest raceday ever staged in Britain with over £4.2m in prize money and the climax to the QIPCO British Champions Series.  Including the five category finales on QIPCO British Champions Day, Ascot stages no less than 13 of the 35 QIPCO British Champions Series races.

What sort of horses like Ascot? Horses that like right-handed courses. And what sort of people? People who like champagne and scones, apparently. During the five-day Royal Ascot meeting in 2010, 60,000 bottles of champagne and 40,000 scones were consumed. Lobsters, meanwhile, don’t like Royal Ascot – 1,500 of them were eaten over that same period.

Getting there

Ascot
Berkshire
SL5 7JX

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