There are plenty of races at the Royal meeting which leave connoisseurs waxing lyrical over the quality of competition. Certainly down the years the Coronation Stakes has fallen nicely into that category.
The Coronation Stakes is a Group 1 contest with similar conditions to the St James’s Palace Stakes with the main difference being that the one mile race is only open to three year old fillies.
At present the race takes place on the Friday of Royal Ascot and has been won by some of the sport’s great fillies.
The first renewal took place in 1840 and was won by a filly called Spangle, and its title commemorates the coronation of Queen Victoria who was crowned two years before.
The present system of race grading was introduced in 1971, and for a period the Coronation Stakes held Group 2 status but was elevated to Group 1 level in 1988.
Much like the colt’s equivalent race attracts horses of Guineas-winning standard, the Coronation Stakes annually assembles the finest collection of proven Classic fillies from England, France and Ireland.
In the early years, the race became a happy hunting ground for jockey Nat Flatman, who won the Coronation Stakes on five occasions, thanks to: The Princess (1844), Stitch (1845), Distaffina (1848), Lady Evelyn (1849) and Barcelona (1851).
Flatman’s success was emulated but never beaten by Morny Cannon, who won with: Lady Hermit (1892), Silene (1893), Throstle (1894), Helm (1896) and Lowood (1898).
The legendary trainer John Porter also made his mark and became the most successful of all-time in the Coronation Stakes, which he won six times with: Lovely (1883), Sandiway (1884), Cereza (1891), Throstle (1894), Helm (1896) and Lowood (1898).
Lady Augusta in 1863 became the first filly to complete the 1,000 Guineas-Coronation Stakes double, a feat repeated by Siberia in 1865 and Achievement two years later.
In 1874 Apology also accomplished the double and was followed in 1877 by Belphoebe.
In 1900 the race had its one and only dead-heat to date, with Sainte Nitouche and Winifreda sharing the spoils. Winifreda had also won the 1,000 Guineas earlier in the year, becoming the sixth filly to do so.
Four years later one of the all-time great fillies of the turf won the Coronation Stakes in the shape of Pretty Polly and she too of course had won the Guineas as part of her Triple Crown triumph.
From 1915 to 1918 and from 1940 to 1945 the Coronation Stakes did not take place due to Wartime efforts but Neolight won in the 1946.
The following decade saw the smart Festoon win in 1954 before another Triple Crown winner, Meld, won the 1955 Coronation Stakes.
Fleet and Humble Duty were other notable winners and Roussalka won in 1975, before winning back-to-back Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.
The early months of 1979 belonged to Henry Cecil’s tiny filly One In A Million who won the Nell Gwynn Stakes and 1,000 Guineas in fine fashion under Joe Mercer. However the filly was coming towards the end of her powers by Royal Ascot and finished second to Buz Kashi in the Coronation Stakes, only to be awarded the race when that filly was disqualified for causing interference to another filly. After disappointing in the July Cup, One In A Million retired to the paddocks and was the dam of the outstanding filly Milligram.
In 1980 the Irish Guineas winner Cairn Rouge won an exciting race and by season’s end had added the Champion Stakes to a great career. A year later the crack two year old and Guineas runner-up Tolmi gained compensation in the Coronation Stakes.
The 1982 running went to the improving Henry Cecil filly Chalon, who had earlier won the Nell Gwynn Stakes but missed the Classics.
Flame Of Tara landed the race in 1983 before winning the Pretty Polly Stakes later in the year. She excelled at stud, producing triple Classic winner Salsabil and the smart Derby runner-up and St James’s Palace Stakes winner Marju.
In 1984 there was a real battle royal for the Coronation Stakes and quite a dilemma for jockey Philip Robinson. The reason for his quandary was that he had ridden Pebbles to win his first English Classic in the 1,000 Guineas, but had then taken the winning mount on Katies in the Irish equivalent. The pair were set to clash in a mouth-watering contest at Royal Ascot. Despite all that Pebbles achieved in a remarkable career, Robinson chose Katies on the day – and got it right.
The Irish Guineas form was again upheld a year later as the classy Al Bahathri won in fine style. She was another outstanding broodmare who produced future Guineas winner Haafhd.
In 1986 the race was won by the outstanding miler Sonic Lady who was beaten at Newmarket but won the Irish 1,000 Guineas and later went on to beat the colts and older horses in the Sussex Stakes.
Milligram, the daughter of One In A Million, upheld the family reputation with victory in 1987 and that autumn she defeated that great French filly Miesque, to land the Queen Elizabeth IInd Stakes.
The quality of winner during the 1980s was incredibly high and the race duly earned its Group 1 status in 1988. That year saw a French invasion with three of the eight runners hailing from across the Channel, headed by the 1,000 Guineas winner Ravinella. But it was the Jeremy Tree filly Magic Of Life that beat Inchmurrin. However a French winner followed just a year later as the brilliantly fast Golden Opinion added Andre Fabre’s name to the winners’ rostrum.
Henry Cecil’s filly Chimes Of Freedom won the race in 1990, completing a fine double for the Warren Place stable, who had won the St James’s Palace Stakes with Shavian a day earlier (in those days the Coronation Stakes was run on the Wednesday of the Royal meeting).
In 1991 the Irish Guineas winner Kooyonga, gained revenge on her Newmarket Guineas conqueror Shadayid in a terrific battle.
The following year it was the turn of the magnificent Marling, who like Kooyonga, had finished second at Newmarket before winning the Irish Guineas. At Ascot she defeated Culture Vulture and later won a memorable Sussex Stakes from Selkirk.
Criquette Head’s Ravinella had been only third in the 1988 Coronation Stakes but the great French trainer finally won the race in 1993 with Gold Splash. Then Kissing Cousin tasted victory for Henry Cecil in 1994, earning Sheikh Mohammed a third victory in the race after Sonic Lady and Golden Opinion in the previous decade.
Another outstanding filly landed the 1995 renewal as the young jockey Johnny Murtagh gained a first major Royal Ascot success aboard the formidable Ridgewood Pearl. The filly had quite brilliantly won the Irish 1,000 Guineas and later went on to claim the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp and the Breeders’ Cup Mile in a glittering career.
Shake The Yoke, Rebecca Sharp, Exclusive and Balisada brought the 20th Century to a close.
Then in the year 2000, Clive Brittain unleashed his latest star filly in the form of Crimplene, who added the Coronation Stakes to her German and Irish 1,000 Guineas successes and would later also win the Nassau Stakes.
The international flavour of racing was increasingly felt in the class of Royal Ascot winner and in 2001 the outstanding Banks Hill added to the list of recent French victors with winning globetrotting tendencies. The filly had finished second in the French Guineas and had won the Prix Sandringham before Ascot and later won the Breeders Cup Fillies’ and Mares’ Turf and the Jacques Le Marois a year later.
The in 2002 there was a significant first winner in the race for Aidan O’Brien as Sophisticat won the Coronation Stakes. The following year, the brilliant English Guineas heroine Russian Rhythm followed-up in great style at Royal Ascot where she beat the top class Soviet Song in a vintage renewal. She would later win the Nassau Stakes and a Lockinge Stakes at four years old.
The 2004 winner of the 1,000 Guineas was Attraction, a filly who could not have looked more different or raced more differently to Russian Rhythm. But by golly she could run! Having landed the English and Irish Guineas, the filly almost put down as a youngster due to conformation problems, duly landed the Coronation Stakes, her eighth consecutive win. Her unbeaten record finally went to Soviet Song in the Falmouth Stakes but Attraction added further Group 1 victories in the Sun Chariot Stakes and in the Matron Stakes the following year.
The 2005 winner Maid’s Causeway showed the courage and tenacity of her sire, the original ‘Iron Horse’ Giant’s Causeway. Runner-up in the 1,000 Guineas, she had disappointed in the Irish equivalent but knuckled down bravely to defeat Karens Caper in a race run at York, due to the building of a new grand stand at Ascot.
Nannina and Indian Ink won the race as it returned to Berkshire in the following two years and then Jim Bolger’s Lush Lashes proved a tough cookie in the 2008 renewal.
Ghanaati was the outstanding filly at a mile during 2009 and added Coronation Stakes success to her earlier Newmarket Guineas triumph.
After Lillie Langtry added a second Coronation for Aidan O’Brien in 2010, the crack French filly Immortal Verse was an impressive and decisive winner in 2011.
John Gosden, previously successful with Nannina, also landed a second victory when Fallen For You beat a field including O’Brien’s English Guineas winner Homecoming Queen.
The 2013 Coronation Stakes featured a thrilling race with an unusually large field of 17 runners. The race was won in brilliant fashion by the English 1,000 Guineas winner Sky Lantern, who defied a very unfavourable wide draw to defeat a strong field including English Guineas runner-up and subsequent Irish Guineas winner Just The Judge.
In 2014, the race was won by the smart Rizeena, a top class two year old who was bouncing back to her very best.
The following year the Coronation Stakes produced perhaps the best finish of the entire meeting, as the French filly Ervedya narrowly beat the Irish raiders Found and Lucida in a quite brilliant contest.
Ervedya was trained by Jean-Claude Rouget and the Frenchman was to follow-up with back-to-back victories in the race in 2016, when Qemah showed her class.
In 2017, despite sweltering conditions, Winter arrived at Royal Ascot.
Trained by David Wachman as a two year-old, the grey filly had transferred to Aidan O’Brien upon her former handler’s retirement.
She arrived at Royal Ascot having already won the English and Irish 1,000 Guineas and duly added a third Group One as part of a glorious campaign.
A year later, it was another grey filly who captured the Coronation Stakes and for much of the summer was the headline act on the whole flat racing scene.
Alpha Centauri had won the Irish 1,000 Guineas but many felt she had something to prove at Royal Ascot, where she had been defeated as a two year-old.
However, on this occasion, the Jessica Harrington trained filly was simply magnificent, blasting her way to a six length win over a field that included 1,000 Guineas winner Billesdon Brook and French Guineas winner Tepal.
The Coronation Stakes regularly features the crème de la crème of three year old fillies and has been won by many of the great female milers in history; with plenty going on to play an equally important role in the creation of future champions in the paddocks.
Winners of the Coronation Stakes since 1979:
|1979||One In A Million|
|1983||Flame of Tara|
|1988||Magic of Life|
|1990||Chimes of Freedom|
|1996||Shake the Yoke|
|2012||Fallen For You|