Which Group One races are run at Royal Ascot?
Royal Ascot is, of course, a highlight of the British sporting and social calendar. Remarkably, though, as recently as 1999, the Royal Meeting featured just three highest category, Group One races. Those races were the St. James’s Palace Stakes, Gold Cup and Coronation Stakes.
However, in the interim, several races have gained, or regained, Group One status and, in 2015, Royal Ascot was extended from four days to five to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. At that point, a new Group One race, the Commonwealth Cup, run over six furlongs and restricted to three-year-olds, was added to the programme, making a total of eight in all.
In addition to the aforementioned races, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes was upgraded to Group One status in 2000, as were the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, formerly the Cork & Orrery Stakes, in 2002 and the Queen Anne Stakes in 2003. In 2005, the King’s Stand Stakes, which had previously held Group One status between 1973 and 1988, before being downgraded, became part of the so-called ‘Global Sprint Challenge’. As such, the five-furlong contest attracted a strong international entry, as a result of which it was upgraded to Group One status again in 2008.