Sovereign Stakes Betting

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Between May and October each year, a total of 15 race meetings are conducted at Salisbury Racecourse in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside. No fixture is more eagerly anticipated than the two-day Salisbury Splendour, which features the venue’s most valuable and highest class race of the season--the £50,000 Sovereign Stakes.

This mile-long Group 3 race is open exclusively to Thoroughbred colts and geldings aged three years and upwards. It takes place on the straight turf as one of at least six or as many as eight scheduled events on an August Thursday between 2:30pm and 5:20pm. Gates open at noon.

Each three-year-old entrant carries a weight of eight stone seven pounds, while those aged four year and older must bear nine stone even. Penalties are applied to those who have finished first in meetings since 1st November of the previous year, amounting to eight pounds for Group 1 winners, five pounds for Group 2 winners and three pounds for Group 3 winners. However, a penalty exemption is made for any two-year-old wins.

When the Sovereign Stakes was inaugurated in 2000, it was classified at the Listed level. There was no sponsor here until 2004, when Totesport came on board as the primary backer and the race was promoted to Group 3 status.

That year was also notable for the memorable duel between Lucky Story and Norse Dancer. The latter horse came from behind to win by a shoulder, and today many still point to the race as one of the highest rated Group 3 events of all time–anywhere in the U.K.

Totesport have continued to sponsor the Sovereign Stakes ever since, with the total prize pool topping out at £65,000 in 2009. That year, a certain long-shot must have got a whiff of the big purse—an eight-year-old bay gelding known as Mac Love. The veteran was ranked dead last among the six starters that day. Confront was favoured at 4/5 odds, and his challenger was thought to be Laa Rayb at 7/2.

Confront took the early lead and looked steady through the first two furlongs while Laa Rayb remained close and Mac Love was held up in the rear. But coming to the final furlong, the eight-year-old made his break, accelerated past the field and went on to win over the favourite by a length and a half, paying a stunning 25/1.

That’s the only big payday that has been delivered in the first eleven editions of the Sovereign Stakes. All of the other winners have paid single digits, including two favourites—Belenus in 2006 at 11/10 and Pride Of Nation at 5/2.

No horse has got two wins here yet, but one jockey has. Dane O’Neill was triumphant the very first two years of the event, coming home first on Hopeful Light in 2000 and following up with a victory aboard Umistim in 2001. The latter was schooled by Richard Hannon, the only three-time winner among trainers at the Sovereign Stakes. His other success came with Priors Lodge in 2002 and Ordnance Row in 2008.

Godolphin Stables trainer Saeed bin Suroor has also has some good fortune here. In addition to Belenus, he was responsible for the 2005 victor Layman, one of just three three-year-olds to reach the winners enclosure at the Sovereign Stakes. By contrast, four-year-olds have won five times and five-year-olds twice.

In 2010, the trainer of Lucky Story and Laa Rayb finally got his first win in this event. Mark Johnston brought three-year-old Sea Lord to the track, rated 7/2 versus Hearts Of Fire touted at 5/2. The favourite was never in contention as Sea Lord won by a nose over 16/1 Poet’s Voice, a colt that went on to win both the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood and the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot within the next 44 days.

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