Norfolk Stakes Betting

Held on the Day Three of the five-day Royal Ascot meeting each June, the £90,000 Norfolk Stakes shares the card with one of the most anticipated of all races run hereóthe Group 1 Gold Cup. This day is colloquially though not officially called Ladiesí Day, in reference to the parade of designer creations and millinery masterpieces that it attracts. Another important race on the third day is the Hampton Court Stakes, which has been renamed the Tercentenary Stakes in 2011 to commemorate 300 years of racing here.

The Norfolk Stakes is a Group 2 flat race that covers a distance of five furlongs on the turf of the famed Ascot Racecourse straight mile. Entry is limited to two-year-old Thoroughbreds, who carry nine stone one pound. An allowance of three pounds is permitted for fillies.

The history of this event dates back to 1843, when it was known as the New Stakes. A juvenile named Rattan won the inaugural session, and many great sprinters soon followed. Among them were 1874ís hero Galopin, the stallion who won the Epsom Derby the following year, as well as the 1893 British Triple crown winner Isinglass, who gained his first career win here in 1892.

Another Triple crown winner who got his first victory on the Ascot turf was 1898ís victor Flying Fox. Other British Classic Champions who made their victorious debuts here include Bayardo in 1908, Blenheim in 1929 and Hyperion in 1932.

In 1971, the race was classified at the Group 3 level. Two years later, it was renamed the Norfolk Stakes in honour of the 16th Duke of Norfolk, who served at Ascot as HMís Representative from 1945 to 1972. It was not until 2006, however, that the event was promoted to Group 2 status.

With four wins each, Mathew Dawson, J. Ryan and John Porter head the list of top trainers here, and they all accomplished their victories before the end of the 19th century. Since then, only one trainer has been able to match them. Atty Persse contributed his winners over a 21-year period, beginning with Sir Archibald in 1907 and followed by Seaforth in 1910, Damon in 1926 and Mr Jinks in 1928.

Renowned jockey Lester Piggott has the distinction of winning the Norfolk Stakes a record nine times. Before the raceís name change, he took Abermaid to the finish line first in 1961 and then had victories on Tin King in 1965, Falcon in 1966 and Swing Easy in 1970. After the new title was bestowed, Piggott continued to dominate the race, winning on Faliraki in 1975, Emboss in 1977, Precocious in 1983, Magic mirror in 1984 and Niche in 1992.

That last win was especially memorable, as the chestnut filly Niche was not expected to do well against the highly touted Silver Wizard with Pat Eddery in the saddle. She stayed with the top sprinters, however, and gained the lead with a furlong to go, holding on to win by a head over the 5/4 favourite and paying 9/1.

That victory also marked trainer Richard Hannonís first win in the Norfolk Stakes. He has added two more since then, with Lucky Lionel in 1995 and Baronís Pit in 2002. Peter Chapple-Hyam has also brought three victors to the starting post: Turtle Island in 1993, Dutch Art in 2006 and winker Watson in 2007.

Howard Johnson trained two recent winners for the Norfolk Stakes: Masta Plasta in 2005 and South Central in 2008. And of course another trainer to watch is Aiden OíBrien, whose only win here came in 2001 with Johannesburg. He would certainly relish a second coming. But donít expect a big payday in any event. Since the turn of the millennium, only one Norfolk Stakes winner has been priced above 5/1.

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