Henry II Stakes Betting

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According to officials at Sandown Park in Esher, Surrey, they have the “best-kept secret in the U.K. racing calendar.” It is the Brigadier Gerard Evening held in late May each year, featuring two of the highest quality evening events staged anywhere in the country—the £65,000 Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes and the £100,000 Group 2 Henry II Stakes. Both are open to Thoroughbreds aged four years and older.

The latter is not just the richer of the two races, but also the longer, covering a distance of two miles and 78 yards over Sandown Park’s right-handed turf, compared to one mile two furlongs and seven yards for the Group 3 event. Four-year-old runners in the Henry II Stakes carry exactly nine stone, while those aged five and upwards must bear an additional two pounds. There is an allowance of three pounds for fillies and mares, with penalties of five pounds for Group 1 winners and three pounds for Group 2 winners that prevailed since August 31 of the previous year.

The first running of this event was in 1963, when it was named in honour of King Henry II. The monarch was responsible for founding an Augustine priory on the site of Sandown Park during the 12th century. When the current system of grading races came into existence in 1971, this race was classified at the Group 3 level. Its promotion to Group 2 came in 2002

Quite a number of different sponsors have backed the Henry II Stakes over the years. They include Mappin & Webb, Cementone Beaver, BonusPrint, wbx.com World Bet Exchange, and betfair. Since 2009, the title role has been held by Blue Square, the interactive gaming division of the Rank Group plc.

Many consider the Henry II Stakes to be an important trial race for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. It can make an excellent opportunity for those looking to bet the double on one horse winning both flat races. One of the greatest horses to master the two events was Andross, who claimed not only this pairing in 1982 but also the Yorkshire Cup, the Jockey Club Stakes and the Doncaster Cup.

The most successful horse in the Henry II Stakes was Persian Punch, a double winner in 1997-98 that came back for a third victory in 2000. Prior to that, the Mark Johnston-trained Double Trigger had been the horse to beat, with back-to-back wins in 1995-96. The only other horse to gain double victory here was Chicago in 1968-69.

Among jockeys, Joe Mercer heads the leader board with five triumphs. He got his first with Grey of Falloden in 1965 and then followed up with successes aboard Charlton in 1971, Zab in 1975, Sea Anchor in 1976 and Buckskin in 1979.

The trainer who brought the most winners to the starting line—six of them—was Dick Hern. He schooled four of Mercer’s rides to victory—Grey of Falloden, Charlton, Zab and Sea Anchor—before adding to his count with Smuggler in 1978 and Longboat in 1986.

In the new millennium, Frankie Dettori has extended his string of victories here to four, adding Mr Dinos in 2002, Papineau in 2003 and Finalmente in 2008 to his initial win aboard Drum Taps in 1992. Richard Hills has also ridden well in the Henry II Stakes, piloting Akbar to victory in 2002 and then Akmal in 2010.

In the past decade, four-year-olds have won four times versus three wins for six-year-olds and one apiece for horses aged five, seven and eight. The “oldster” was Geordieland trained by Jamie Osborne and mounted by Shane Kelley in 2009.

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