It's hard to ask for much more from the 2012 Royal Ascot meet when two of the top rated horses in the world, Frankel (GB) and Black Caviar (AUS), are scheduled to compete during the five-day meet. There aren't any maiden claiming races kicking off the day at Royal Ascot, instead Frankel will face off against ten rivals in the first race of the meet on Tuesday, the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes. Black Caviar won't make her appearance until the final day of the meeting in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
You can find a summary of all the races and entries for the 2012 Royal Ascot meet at the Racing Post via the link below.
Like many of the courses in Europe, Ascot has its own unique configuration and characteristics, most of which play an important role as to how race are run and won. Below is a satellite shot (via GoogleEarth) of Ascot Racecourse. (The finish line is in the lower left portion of the picture.)
Ascot Racecourse is a triangular shaped course with a long straight for races at a mile or less. Races are run in a clockwise manner (unlike Epsom Downs, where races are run similar to those in North America - counter-clockwise).
Notice the subtle differences in the parts of the course a horse has to navigate based on starting position. Races at 7 furlongs or less are run on the straight and begin uphill, then proceed downhill, then back uphill to the finish line. Races at a mile can begin at two different locations: at the lowest point of the course, "Swinley Bottom" (the top portion of the triangle in the satellite picture above), which requires the field to take a right hand turn towards the finish line; or at the far end of the straight, which requires horses to run downhill, uphill, downhill, and then uphill to the wire.
The Queen Anne Stakes, featuring Frankel, will run on a straight mile. The St. James's Palace Stakes will run on the round.
To get a sense of how the course looks for races run on the straight, here is a photo I snapped while visiting Ascot in April of 2011. (click on the photo for a larger image.)
As you can see from the picture, there is a significant rise and fall through the straight course, and then a fairly steady climb to towards the wire. The starting gate is positioned in the middle of the course for races on the straight and the field will generally gravitate towards one side or the other, depending on which part of the course the jockeys believe is the fastest.
Races at a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half begin near the highest point on the racecourse and involve racing downhill in the opening furlongs.
Below is the full schedule for the 2012 Royal Ascot meeting. All times are British Standard Time.
|19-Jun||2.30 pm||Queen Anne Stakes||1||4up||£350,000||8.0|
|19-Jun||3.05 pm||King’s Stand Stakes||1||3up||£350,000||5.0|
|19-Jun||3.45 pm||St James’s Palace Stakes||1||3yo, c||£250,000||8.0|
|19-Jun||4.25 pm||Coventry Stakes||2||2yo||£85,000||6.0|
|19-Jun||5.00pm||Ascot Stakes (Handicap)||4up||£55,000||20.0|
|19-Jun||5.35 pm||Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed)||2yo||£55,000||5.0|
|20-Jun||2.30 pm||Jersey Stakes||3||3yo||£70,000||7.0|
|20-Jun||3.05 pm||Windsor Forest Stakes||2||4up, f&m||£100,000||8.0|
|20-Jun||3.45 pm||Prince of Wales’s Stakes||1||4up||£500,000||10.0|
|20-Jun||4.25 pm||Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap)||3up||£125,000||8.0|
|20-Jun||5.00pm||Queen Mary Stakes||2||2yo, f||£75,000||5.0|
|20-Jun||5.35 pm||Sandringham Stakes (Listed) (Handicap)||3yo, f||£55,000||8.0|
|21-Jun||2.30 pm||Norfolk Stakes||2||2yo||£75,000||5.0|
|21-Jun||3.05 pm||Ribblesdale Stakes||2||3yo, f||£125,000||12.0|
|21-Jun||3.45 pm||Gold Cup||1||4up||£350,000||20.0|
|21-Jun||4.25 pm||Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap)||3yo, c&g||£100,000||8.0|
|21-Jun||5.35 pm||King George V Stakes (Handicap)||3yo||£55,000||12.0|
|22-Jun||2.30 pm||Albany Stakes||3||2yo, f||£60,000||6.0|
|22-Jun||3.05 pm||King Edward VII Stakes||2||3yo, c&g||£150,000||12.0|
|22-Jun||3.45 pm||Coronation Stakes||1||3yo, f||£250,000||8.0|
|22-Jun||4.25 pm||Wolferton Rated Stakes (Listed)||4up||£55,000||10.0|
|22-Jun||5.35 pm||Buckingham Palace Stakes (Handicap)||3up||£75,000||7.0|
|23-Jun||2.30 pm||Chesham Stakes (Listed)||2yo||£55,000||7.0|
|23-Jun||3.05 pm||Hardwicke Stakes||2||4up||£200,000||12.0|
|23-Jun||3.45 pm||Diamond Jubilee Stakes||1||3up||£500,000||6.0|
|23-Jun||4.25 pm||Wokingham Stakes (Heritage Handicap)||3up||£125,000||6.0|
|23-Jun||5.00 pm||Duke of Edinburgh Stakes (Handicap)||3up||£70,000||12.0|
|23-Jun||5.35 pm||Queen Alexandra Stakes (Conditions)||4up||£55,000||22.0|