2023 Royal Ascot Preview: Best Races, Top U.S. Horses, How to … – America's Best Racing

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With the U.S. Triple Crown season in the books, the focus of the horse racing world shifts on a dime – or in this case, ten pence – across the pond for one of the most prestigious events on the annual calendar. The five-day Royal Ascot meet begins Tuesday, June 14, at gorgeous Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England. The royal meeting will bring many of the top horses in the United Kingdom and Ireland together for 35 races with a total of £8,702,500 (about $10.6 million U.S.) in prize money up for grabs.

Royal Ascot is similar to big U.S. events such as the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup World Championships in that it’s about much more than just horse racing, as the five days are filled with fashion, celebrity watching, and an historic brand of pomp and circumstance tied into the British monarchy (Ascot Racecourse was founded by Queen Anne in 1711). This year will be the first Royal Ascot meet in 70 years without Queen Elizabeth II as monarch following her passing on Sept. 8, 2022; Charles III was officially coronated last month.
While the entire Royal Ascot experience is a major attraction for throngs of Brits eager to enjoy a highlight of the summer social calendar in person, for most of us Yanks it is the horses, TV coverage, and betting that are the focus. Enjoy ABR’s guide to the 2023 Royal Ascot meeting.
When It Happens:
The meet runs from Tuesday, June 20 through Saturday, June 24, with each daily card holding seven races. The first post is at 9:30 a.m. ET (2:30 p.m. local time) and the last race each day is scheduled to run at 1:10 p.m. ET (6:10 p.m. local time).
Major Races:
Eight of the 35 races at Royal Ascot are Group 1 stakes, the highest worldwide rating. Three of those are held on opening day, June 20: the Queen Anne Stakes for horses 4 years old and older; the King’s Stand Stakes for horses 3 years old and older; and the St. James’ Palace Stakes for 3-year-old colts.

On Wednesday, June 21, horses 4 years old and older will contest the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, and on Thursday, June 22, horses 4 years old and older will square off in a true test of stamina when the Gold Cup is held at 2 ½ miles.
Two more Group 1 stakes are set for Friday, June 23: the Commonwealth Cup for 3-year-old colts and fillies and the Coronation Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. And finally, on Saturday, June 24, horses 4 years old and older will race in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes. The King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday is a five-furlong sprint, and the Jubilee on closing day is held at six furlongs – and it’s not unheard of for horses to appear in both of them during the same week.
Four races during the meeting are “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series qualifiers for the 2023 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, to be held this Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. Winners of these four stakes will receive a guaranteed, expenses-paid spot in the starting gate for a designated Breeder’s Cup race. The aforementioned Queen Anne Stakes and King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday are “Win and You’re In” qualifiers for the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, respectively, while Wednesday’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes is a Challenge Series qualifier for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.
The Group 2 Norfolk Stakes, a five-furlong dash held as the opening race on Royal Ascot’s Thursday June 16 card, is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.
Where to Watch:
NBC Sports will show racing from Royal Ascot, with the Tuesday to Friday races available on its Peacock streaming service and the races on Saturday, June 24, broadcast live on NBC and also on Peacock, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app starting at 9 a.m. ET. Streaming will begin on Peacock at 8:30 a.m. ET Tuesday through Friday.
The entire Royal Ascot meet will also be televised live each day on FanDuel TV.
How to Bet:
Betting on the ponies in the U.K. is different than stateside – you set fixed odds with a bookmaker such as Labrokes or William Hill and go from there. But there’ll be parimutuel pools for U.S. horseplayers via advance deposit wagering (ADW) sites such as NYRA Bets, 1/ST BETTwinSpires.com, TVG.com, and other entities.
Be sure to keep the time difference in mind: most of the action during Royal Ascot week will be in the morning for East Coast players – and the very early morning for those firing away in the Pacific Time Zone.
Top U.S. Based Horses:

The American trainer with the best track record at Royal Ascot without question is Wesley Ward.
Ward began his career as a jockey and won the Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice rider in 1984. He became a trainer in the early 1990s. Over time, he’s established a reputation as an expert in developing both 2-year-old horses and turf sprinters.
Ward has won a total of 12 races at Royal Ascot, starting with Strike the Tiger and Jealous Again from his first trip in 2009. This year, he’ll send a strong group of runners, headlined by top-class filly Twilight Gleaming. The 4-year-old Irish-bred daughter of National Defense first appeared at Royal Ascot as a juvenile and finished second in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes; she followed that with a stakes win in France and a tally in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. Twilight Gleaming has since won three of five starts, including the Giant’s Causeway Stakes at Keeneland back in April, and is targeting the King’s Stand Stakes on Royal Ascot’s July 20 opening day. Four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. is named to ride Twilight Gleaming in the King’s Stand.
Ward is also sending three 2-year-old racehorses to Royal Ascot. The two receiving the most buzz are American Rascal and Fandom, both colts owned by Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables. They each won their career debut races by open lengths during the Keeneland spring meet – American Rascal on dirt, and Fandom on turf. American Rascal’s dam (mother) is Lady Aurelia, who was trained by Ward and went two-for-three at Royal Ascot during her stellar career, winning the King’s Stand Stakes and the Queen Mary Stakes. Look for American Rascal in the Norfolk Stakes on Thursday, and English-bred Fandom in the Windsor Castle Stakes, a five-furlong sprint, on Wednesday.

Trainer George Weaver is also expected to start two juveniles during the Royal Ascot meet – No Nay Mets and Crimson Advocate. Those two each won turf stakes races at Gulfstream Park on May 13 and looked good doing so. They’ll be testing far deeper waters in England in the Norfolk Stakes and the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes, respectively. England native Thomas Morley, based in New York, will start maiden winner Cynane in the Queen Mary as well. The 2-year-old daughter of Omaha Beach led gate-to-wire in a five-furlong Belmont Park turf race on May 11 and she actually may do her best running when the races get longer as she’s a close relative to mile-and-a-half Grade 1 winner Point of Entry and mile-and-a-quarter Grade 1 winner Pine Island.
Two more horses well-known to U.S. fans are listed as probables for the Royal Ascot meet. Classic Causeway first emerged on the 2022 Kentucky Derby trail but captured his biggest win on turf in last summer’s Grade 1 Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes. The Ken McPeek trainee will square off against the likes of multiple Group 1 winners Adayar and Luxembourg in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday. Big Invasion, a six-time stakes winner sprinting on turf in the U.S., is a possible starter in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes on Royal Ascot’s closing day for trainer Christophe Clement. If he does start, he’ll do so on a two-week turnaround – plus trans-Atlantic travel – after finishing a rallying second to Caravel in the Grade 1 Jaipur Stakes June 10 at Belmont Park.
Although based in England, Godolphin’s Modern Games is a horse U.S. fans are well acquainted with from his wins in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and the 2022 FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF. The $3.5 million-earner is slated to start in the Royal Ascot opener on Tuesday, the Queen Anne Stakes, with a third trip to the Breeders’ Cup this fall no doubt in the long-term picture for trainer Charlie Appleby.
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