The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes is run over 1 mile for horses aged 3YO+. It is the category finale of the Mile races in the British Champions Series, which include:
THE MILE RACES SCHEDULE
MAY: QIPCO 2000 Guineas, £500,000 at Newmarket
MAY: Al Shaqab Lockinge, £350,000 at Newbury
JUNE: Queen Anne Stakes, £600,000 at Royal Ascot
JUNE: St James’s Palace Stakes, £400,000 at Royal Ascot
AUGUST: Qatar Sussex Stakes, £1,000,000 at Goodwood
OCTOBER: Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes, £250,000 at Newmarket
OCTOBER: Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, £1,100,000 at Ascot
HISTORY OF THE RACE
Long recognised as Europe’s mile championship, 1,600 metre races come no bigger than this anywhere on the international stage.
Carrying a cool £1.1 million in prizemoney, the race has entered a different stratosphere in financial terms, boosted from £250,000 in 2010 when it was run at Ascot’s late September meeting. It is now by far the richest mile race in Europe and one of the most valuable anywhere in the world.
Named in honour of The Queen in 1955, the race has a roll of honour packed full of stars, including Brigadier Gerard (1971 & 1972), Known Fact (1980), Dubai Millennium (1999) and the awesome Frankel, who took the contest in 2011 in effortless fashion. After a dozen straight home wins leading up to 2005, the winner’s trophy has been exported four times in the last nine years, most recently to France following Charm Spirit’s 2014 success and Solow’s in 2015.
The race also holds special memories for Frankie Dettori. It provided him with his first-ever Group 1 victory thanks to Markofdistinction in 1990 and six years later Mark Of Esteem was the third leg of his ‘Magnificent Seven’ when he won all seven races on that famous (or infamous if you were a bookmaker) Ascot card.
PAST WINNERS OF THE QUEEN ELIZABETH II STAKES
Year – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
2011 – Frankel (pictured) – Tom Queally – Sir Henry Cecil
2012 – Excelebration – Joseph O’Brien – Aidan O’Brien
2013 – Olympic Glory – Richard Hughes – Richard Hannon Sr
2014 – Charm Spirit – Olivier Peslier – Freddy Head
2015 – Solow – Maxime Guyon – Freddy Head
2016 – Minding – Ryan Moore – Aidan O’Brien
CONTENDERS FOR THE QUEEN ELIZABETH STAKES 2017
The class of 2016 took it in turns to beat each other in the mile category. Will it be the same story this season, or will one horse take the division by the scruff of the neck?
If you were betting on it, you would imagine the seven races that comprise the division will again be divided.
For example, Churchill, whose five wins as a two-year-old in 2016 included two Group 1 victories, is hot favourite to win the opening race of the category – the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 6 – but may then move up in distance.
Those who have made Aidan O’Brien-trained colt ante-post favourite for the Investec Derby at Epsom on June 3 will certainly be hoping that is is the case.
The unbeaten Caravaggio, another colt in the care of O’Brien, also remains a 2000 Guineas possible but there are question marks over his ability to be fully effective over a mile. He could take the sprinting path.
Three unbeaten colts – Al Wukair, Eminent and Barney Roy – have already put down solid markers this season and then, of course, there is Rhododendron, the QIPCO 1000 Guineas favourite.
The Gurkha, winner of the Qatar Sussex last year, and Belardo, who landed the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, have been retired. So has Awtaad, the Irish 2000 Guineas victor.
But many of last season’s top milers will be back for more, and in addition, the outstanding Solow, who raced only once early last term, is also set to return to the fray.
Minding’s tremendous campaign in 2016 included victories in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. The latter contest was acclaimed as the tenth best race run anywhere in the world at the Longines World’s Best Racehorse & Best Horse Race Ceremony at London in January.
She also flourished over middle distances and her versatility means she will have a range of options.
Galileo Gold won two early races in the mile category last year – the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes – and also went close in the Sussex Stakes before his exploits seemed to catch up with him in the latter part of the campaign.
With his batteries recharged, he seems certain to again be a force for the yard of Hugo Palmer. The Lockinge, sponsored by his owners, is already a stated aim.
Ribchester, placed in the 2000 Guineas and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, appeals as the type to thrive as a four-year-old and made an encouraging return in Dubai, while Lightning Spear should also make his presence felt.
Solow lit up the Champions Series in 2015, landing the Queen Anne Stakes, Qatar Sussex Stakes and QIPCO-sponsored Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. A leg problem kept him off the track for most of last season but his connections hope he will be ready for Royal Ascot.