Even if British racing returns on June 1, plans to hold all the Royal Ascot juvenile races are surely wrong. There’s not enough time for trial races, even if the two-year-old contests are held over to the last day.
Had racing started at Doncaster in March, it would have been 80 days before Royal Ascot. However, the shutdown means there’s barely time for one prep race this year. Thus, the fittest horses will have a big advantage. But the fittest is not necessarily the best. A 70-rated horse could win the Coventry Stakes or the Queen Mary just because they’ve been better prepared. Sure, everyone’s in the same boat but that doesn’t make it right. It is also true that Calyx won the 2018 Coventry Stakes just 10 days after making his debut. But that’s an exception to the rule.
Why scrapping Royal Ascot juvenile races makes sense
There are six two-year-old races during the five-day Royal Ascot meeting. They include three Group 2s: the Coventry, Queen Mary and Norfolk Stakes. The Albany Stakes is a Group 3. The Listed Windsor Castle and Chesham Stakes complete the line-up. The total value of those races last year was £356,000. Even if run for half that amount this year, that’s still £178,000. That money could go elsewhere.
Punters will have precious little form to go on, that’s for sure. Will Wesley Ward be bringing his two-year-olds over? Punters often latch onto him because they will all have had at least one run. However, it is worth noting the poor form of Ward’s two-year-olds so far this year. He can’t buy a winner. They are going off favourite and getting beat. Thus, Ward is unlikely to have any ‘flying machines’ this time.
Holding the Royal Ascot juvenile races this year will devalue them as Group and Listed contests. Instead, make Royal Ascot a four-day meeting and wait until Newmarket’s July Meeting before holding any two-year-old Group races. Start with the July Stakes and the former Cherry Hinton. That would make far more sense.