Royal Ascot - At The Races

15:40 Ascot 20 Jun 2017

King's Stand Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) (3YO plus)

Winner £226,840 - 17 ran



Good to Firm

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Weighed In

Last year’s race

  • Winner: Profitable
  • Jockey: A Kirby
  • Trainer: C G Cox
  • Owner: Mr A D Spence
  • Age: 4 Weight: 9st 4lb
  • Starting Price: 4/1
  • Season Form Figures: 11
  • Previous Best: 1st - Temple Stakes (Group 2), Haydock (May 2016)

British-trained horses had been up against it but the successes of Goldream and Profitable in the last two years is slowly helping to turn the tide. Prior to those successes, we had four Australian-trained winners (all four won the Lightning Stakes at Flemington) since 2003, a success for France in 2010 and Hong Kong in 2012, back-to-back wins for the Irish-trained Sole Power and even a Spanish-trained winner in 2008.

Three fillies head the market at the time of writing not including the Temple Stakes winner, Priceless, and Marsha looks set to lead the home challenge. Like many I was too quick to dismiss her due her to 7lb penalty before she lined up for the Palace House Stakes on her seasonal debut having won the Prix de l’Abbaye but she overcame that in style to win what looked a really competitive renewal at HQ beforehand beating Washington DC into second, just as she did at Chantilly on Arc Day and will meet on him on better terms here. Fillies and mares have won five of the last 23 runnings which is a good strike rate as they wouldn’t represent a fifth of the field.

No American-trained horse has won the King’s Stand, though very few have tried, and it could be that Wesley Ward will saddle the favourite in Lady Aurelia. Acapulco may have left his barn for Aidan O’Brien but Ward is on target to be represented by last season’s Queen Mary winner (by 7l no less where she made all on soft ground) as Lady Aurelia has had this race as her target throughout the winter and she made a winning return at Keeneland over 5½f.

When winning the first of his two King Stand’s, Sole Power became the first Irish-trained winner since the Vincent O’Brien-trained Bluebird 26 years earlier but they look set to be well represented, notably via Aidan O’Brien. Outside of the Commonwealth Cup having only its third airing, this is the only Group 1 race at Royal Ascot that the current master of Ballydoyle has yet to win and he’ll be hoping to put that right with either Acapulco or Washington DC.

Ten of the last 17 winners were also successful on their most recent outing so we must strongly consider the importance of entering the King’s Stand in tip-top heart.

The French have won four times since 1997 and they have a major player in Signs Of Blessing who gave 11lb and a comfortable beating to Profitable in a Group 3 at Deauville in May. This is the target according to Francois Rohaut rather than the Diamond Jubilee in which he was a half-length fifth behind Twilight Son last season but didn’t quite see out the sixth furlong on a stiff track, or so says his trainer - he has won a Group 1 over 6½f. He also was a close-up fourth to The Tin Man over the same C/D on Champions Day but he looks happier racing prominently over a furlong shorter. Five of the last 21 winners contested the Prix du Gros-Chene held at Chantilly on French Derby Day.

As you would expect for a competitive Group 1 sprint, pattern-race winners have come to the fore with 19 of the last 28 winners having already won at Group 1 or Group 2 level so no massive angle there. All but one of the last 17 winners had also won a Group race over the minimum trip of five furlongs (also to be expected) and all bar one of those last 16 winners had enjoyed the benefit of a run earlier in the season (still nothing to get particularly excited about).

However, I am taken by the fact that ten of the last 17 winners were also successful on their most recent outing so we must strongly consider the importance of entering the King’s Stand in tip-top heart. In fact, 11 of the last 12 winners finished first or second last time out.

The Temple Stakes has been the best British guide as six winners of that Group 2 affair since 1990 followed up here (Dayjur, Elbio, Lochsong, Bolshoi, Cassandra Go and Profitable). Sole Power and Goldream were also unplaced in the Temple Stakes in the last four years before winning the King’s Stand the following month. Priceless took this season’s running beating the slow-starting Goldream by half a length.

Age is not a critical factor with recent winners aged from three right through to seven in the last decade but, over a longer period of time, three-year-olds have a decent strike rate winning, on average, twice a decade which may not sound exciting but they are always heavily outnumbered so do afford them respect. However the Commonwealth Cup restricted to the Classic generation is likely to take away the best of the British and Irish three-year-old sprinting talent.

At a glance summary

Last-time-out winner
The non-European challenge
The Temple Stakes form (notably the winner)
A top-four finisher in the Prix du Gros-Chene
Outside the first two last time out
Failed to win a Group 1 or Group 2 race
Failed to win a Group race over 5f
Seasonal debutants

Previous Winners
Year Going Ran Winner Draw Age Weight OR Form Last run Trainer (Distance) Jockey SP Time
2016 Soft 17 Profitable 8 4 9 4 - 2505-11 24 days C Cox (43 miles) A Kirby 4/1 1:02.69
2015 Good to Firm 18 Goldream 3 6 9 4 - 2142-17 24 days R Cowell (88 miles) M Harley 20/1 0:59.11
2014 Good 16 Sole Power 8 7 9 4 - 362-471 45 days E Lynam (210 miles) R Hughes 5/1 0:58.85
2013 Good 19 Sole Power 14 6 9 4 - 15-2414 24 days E Lynam (210 miles) Johnny Murtagh 8/1 0:58.88
2012 Good to Soft 22 Little Bridge 7 6 9 4 - 14-7611 51 days C S Shum Z Purton 12/1 0:59.69
2011 Good 19 Prohibit 14 6 9 4 - 459432 9 days R Cowell (88 miles) J Crowley 7/1 0:59.50
2010 Good 12 Equiano 2 5 9 4 - 850-112 24 days B W Hills (27 miles) Michael Hills 9/2 0:59.00
2009 Good to Firm 15 Scenic Blast 15 5 9 4 - 10-2151 101 days D Morton Steven Arnold 11/4 0:59.54
2008 Good to Firm 13 Equiano 5 3 8 12 - 133-212 16 days M D Sanchez O Peslier 22/1 0:00.00
2007 Good to Firm 21 Miss Andretti 19 6 9 1 - 13-1111 101 days L Freedman C Newitt 3/1 0:57.44