St. James`s Palace Stakes Betting

The Royal Ascot meeting in June has been a fixture of the British social calendar for nearly 250 years. It is renowned for its tradition, pageantry, fashion, style and, of course, great horse racing. In total, there are 18 Group races scheduled over five days, with a combined purse of £4 million on offer.

The £250,000 St. Jamesís Palace Stakes is one of three featured races on opening day each year, joining the Kingís Stand Stakes and the Queen Anne Stakes. At a distance of one full mile, this race also serves as a leg of the new QIPCO British Champion Series, established in 2011, which includes Britainís seven highest-rated races in the one-mile category, including the Sandown Mile and the Lockinge Stakes, among others.

This event draws its name from the St. Jamesís Palace, a royal residence occupied during the Tudor period. The race got underway in 1834, albeit only one entrant took part in the inaugural running, making it a walkover. When the current grading system was introduced in 1971, the St. Jamesís Palace Stakes received Group 2 status. By 1988, however, it had attained the highest level of recognition as a Group 1 level flat horse race open to three-year-old colts, which carry nine stone even.

Many of the entrants in the St. Jamesís Palace Stakes have fared well in previous runnings of the 2,000 Guineas, the Irish 2,000 Guineas or Franceís Poule díEssai des Poulains. Unlike the straight mile of the Queen Anne Stakes for four-year-old Thoroughbreds that precedes it, this race involves a right-handed circuit on the Ascot Racecourse turf.

The top jockey over the years has been Michael Kinane with six victories. The first came on Dara Monarch in 1982, followed a decade later by Brief Truce in 1992. The wins cam more frequently thereafter, as Kinane rode Grand Lodge in 1994, Giantís Causeway in 2000, Rock of Gibraltar in 2002 and Azamour in 2004. Most recently, Johnny Murtagh has been putting up victories of his own on Black Minnaloushe in 2001, Henrythenavigator in 2008, and in Mastercraftsman in 2009.

It should come as no surprise that Aiden OíBrien trained all three of Murtaghís winners, plus three others: Giantís Causeway, Rock of Gibraltar, and the 2007 victor Excellent Art. All six horses were owned by Sue Magnier. OíBrienís half dozen wins ties trainer Mathew Dawson for the lead, with the latterís victories coming early in the race history, between 1853 and 1888.

When it comes to betting, the St. Jamesís Palace Stakes is considered by many to be the highlight of the first day of the Royal Ascot meeting. It tends to offer some good ante-post betting opportunities, with almost all entries listed at double digits in the early going. One the field is known, the odds reduce greatly, but there are usually some big, active betting markets remaining for those interested in pool betting.

Of late, the field for the running of the St. Jamesís Palace Stakes has seen quality triumph over quantity. Between eight and eleven runners typically line up at the start. The favourite or joint-favourite has won all but one of the most recent six editions. One good tip is to look out for bookmakers that offer payouts on extra places in each way betting.

Another excellent recommendation involves shopping for free bets offered by bookmakers in the weeks leading up to the Royal Ascot. They are quite plentiful. In 2011, for example, a £zero promotion was being offered by bet365 and a £30 free bet by ladbrokes.

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