Queen’s Vase Betting

One of the reasons the annual five-day meeting at Royal Ascot in June draws such crowds is the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Her Royal Majesty the Queen trackside. There are only three trophies that Her Highness presents in person here, and one of them is to the winner of the Group 3 Queen’s Vase on Day Four.

This £70,000 race covers a distance two miles on the right-handed turf of the Ascot Racecourse. It is open only to three-year-old Thoroughbreds, each of which must carry a weight of nine stone one pound. There is an allowance of three pounds for fillies, and penalties are applied to runners successful in previous races conducted since 31st August of the preceding year, amounting to five pounds for Group 1 and Group 2 winners and three pounds for Group 3 winners.

Also on the card the day of the Queen’s Vase are three much-anticipated Group-level races—the six-furlong Group 3 Albany Stakes, the 1.5-mile Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes and the mile-long Group 1 Coronation Stakes for Europe’s leading fillies. The other two events in which the Queen takes part are the Royal Hunt Cup on Day Two and the Gold Cup on Day Three.

The Queen’s Vase ranks as one of Ascot’s traditions. It was first run here in 1838, when a gold vase was presented as the original trophy, donated by Queen Victoria. From 1840 onwards, horses older that three years were permitted to participate, and the event’s name was changed in 1903 to the King’s Vase, honouring King Edward VII subsequent to the Queen’s death in 1901.

In 1952, Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne, and the race’s name was eventually restored as the Queen’s Vase in 1960. When the current system of grading races was initiated in 1971, this event was accorded Group 3 status, but it was relegated to the Listed level in 1986, when entry was again restricted to three-year-olds. The current Group 3 classification was received in 1991.

One aspect of the Queen’s Vase that sets it apart from other races at the Royal Ascot Meeting is that the trophy is remade each year so that it may be kept permanently by the winner. The other trophies awarded here must be returned annually.

During the long period when the Queen’s Vase was open to older entries, Thoroughbreds had multiple opportunities for victories here but only one ever managed to win twice. That was Bachelor’s Button, claiming the vase back-to-back in 1904-05. Prior to that, the 1856 winner, Fisherman, did something almost as rare, winning the Gold Cup back-to-back in 1858-59.

Among jockeys, one tops them all with six Queen’s Vase triumphs. That’s George Fordham, who mounted Arsenal in 1857 and Sedbury in 1858, followed by wins aboard Horror in 1860, Marie Stuart in 1875, Ambassadress in 1881 and Tristan in 1882. More recently, Kevin Darley rode four horses to victory in just five years—And Beyond in 2001, Shanty Star in 2003, Melrose Avenue in 2005 and Soapy Danger in 2006—all trained by Mark Johnston.

Johnston also trained the 2009 and 2011 winners, Holberg and Namibian, respectively. However, the honour for top trainer here still resides with Henry Cecil, whose eight winners lead all. They include Falkland in 1972, General Ironside in 1976, Le Moss in 1978, Arden in 1987, River God in 1990, Jendali in 1991, Stelvio in 1995 and Endorsement in 1999.

Winners at single-digit odds have been the rule at the Queen’s Vase for the past decade, including several favourites. The most recent touted entry to prove the bookmakers correct was Irish-bred Mikhail Glinka winning at 2/1 odds in 2010. The last horse to cover at long odds was Johnston’s first winner, And Beyond, at 11/1.

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