Royal Ascot’s most prestigious sprint became the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in 2012 in recognition of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension to throne in 1952. It was elevated to Group One status to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 and run as the Golden Jubilee Stakes from 2002 – 2011.
Prior to 2002, the contest was known as the Cork & Orrery Stakes. The inaugural running in 1868 of this six-furlong contest, originally named after Lord Cork, a Master of the Buckhounds, was won by Laneret, ridden by George Fordham. Royal Ascot specialist, the Harvey Leader-trained Diomedes, was successful in the 1926 renewal, having won two races including the King’s Stand Stakes at the Royal Meeting the previous year.
There has been one three-time winner, Prince Charlie (1872, 1873 and 1874), and five dual winners – Lowlander (1875 and 1876), Whitefriar (1886 and 1887), Hornet’s Beauty (1913 and 1914), Hamlet (1923 and 1924) and Right Boy (1958 and 1959).
The latter, ridden by Lester Piggott on both occasions, was trained for his first victory by Malton-based Bill Dutton and then by his son-in-law Pat Rohan, who took over the licence following Dutton’s death. Rohan and Piggott also won the 1960 race with Tin Whistle.
In 1951, the year of the Festival of Britain, Australian jockey Neville Sellwood had an amazing Royal Ascot in his first season in Britain, gaining four victories, including the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on board the Lord Sefton-owned Bob Cherry.
Many consider the late Vincent O’Brien to be the greatest racehorse trainer in history and the Irish handler was successful on five occasions with Welsh Saint (1970), Saritamer (1974), Swingtime (1975), Thatching (1979) and College Chapel (1993). All bar Swingtime, the mount of Willie Carson, were ridden by Lester Piggott, who was 57 when winning on College Chapel, a final Royal Ascot victory for both trainer and jockey.
Piggott is the most successful rider with nine successes (between 1958 and 1993), followed by Fred Archer on six (1878 to 1886), Morny Cannon (1893 to 1898), Steve Donoghue (1920 to 1935) and Willie Carson (1972 to 1996) on five wins, and Sir Gordon Richards on four (1949 to 1954).
The then 19-year-old Walter Swinburn began what was to be a memorable day for his family in 1981 by winning the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on the Reg Hollinshead-trained The Quiet Bidder. Later on the same afternoon his father, Wally, went on to take the Norfolk Stakes for Irish trainer Dermot Weld on Day Is Done.
The 1989 winner Danehill, who was trained for Khalid Abdullah by Jeremy Tree, went on to win the Haydock Sprint Cup and became one of the world’s top stallions.
The beginning of the nineties was a golden era for favourites with four ‘jollies’ or joint-favourites winning between 1991 and 1994.
During this period, Shalford struck for Richard Hannon snr in 1992 and the recently retired handler gained his second success in 1999 with Bold Edge.
The 2001 renewal was won by the Roger Charlton-trained Harmonic Way who clearly loved sprinting at Royal Ascot as he was also successful in the previous year’s Wokingham.
The first Group One running in 2002 saw a terrific training performance by John Gosden, who nursed the fragile Malhub back to full fitness to score a 16/1 success.
Choisir, trained in Australia by Paul Perry and the mount of Johnny Murtagh, won in 2003 from Airwave to complete a remarkable double, having landed the five-furlong King’s Stand Stakes on the opening day.
In 2004, Fayr Jag confirmed his liking for Ascot when he followed up his success in the 2003 Wokingham by beating Crystal Castle a head. Cape Of Good Hope, third behind Fayr Jag, took the 2005 running at York for Hong Kong-based trainer David Oughton, who started his career as an amateur jockey and trainer in Sussex.
The Global Sprint Challenge commenced in 2005 to encourage international competition. Les Arcs, a 33/1 shot, held off the late rattle of 50/1 outsider Balthazaar’s Gift to score by a neck in 2006, with Australian challenger Takeover Target, victorious in the King’s Stand Stakes four days earlier, a gallant third.
Takeover Target was denied again in 2007, when the Jeremy Noseda-trained Soldier’s Tale dug deep to snatch the victory by a head. The Aussie raider returned in 2008 and, having finished runner-up in the King’s Stand Stakes earlier in the week, was sent off the 4/1 favourite. However, it was the John Best-trained Kingsgate Native, well beaten in the King’s Stand Stakes on the Tuesday, who landed the spoils from War Artist, with Takeover Target fourth. The winner had won the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes as a juvenile and was the first three-year-old to score since Atraf in 1996.
Having waited so long for a three-year-old victor, another came along in 2009 when the previous year’s Coventry Stakes winner Art Connoisseur, trained by Michael Bell, held on by a neck from the late thrust of American challenger Cannonball.
Starspangledbanner had already proved himself to be one of the top performers in Australia with a pair of Group One victories to his name before being shipped to Ireland in the spring of 2010 to continue his career in the hands of Aidan O’Brien. The four year-old emulated his sire Choisir with a blistering all-the-way success under Johnny Murtagh and went on to score another pillar-to-post victory in the Group One Darley July Cup at Newmarket the following month. Society Rock filled the runner-up spot behind Starspangledbanner in 2010 but the James Fanshawe-trained colt went one place better in 2011, beating Monsieur Chevalier by half a length.
Royal Ascot was graced with one of the greatest sprinters of all time in 2012 as undefeated Australian champion Black Caviar attempted to record a 22nd consecutive win. She was sent off at odds of 1/6, but could only register a head success over Moonlight Cloud after jockey Luke Nolen was easy on the six-year-old mare in the closing stages. Black Caviar was subsequently found to have pulled a muscle in her back during the race but she made a full recovery and posted three further wins in Australia before retiring in April, 2013, with a faultless record of 25 victories, 15 of which came in Group One company.
The 2013 renewal went the way of the Clive Cox-trained Lethal Force, who made all the running under Adam Kirby to score decisively by two lengths from the race stalwart Society Rock. The four-year-old followed that up with another front-running victory in the Darley July Cup, the third British leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, at Newmarket three weeks later.
Five-year-old Slade Power, whose stable companion Sole Power captured the King’s Stand Stakes earlier in the week, held on by a neck from Jack Dexter for the Power Family and Irish trainer Edward Lynam as the 7/2 market leader in 2014. He went on to capture the Group One Darley July Cup in good style at Newmarket.
In 2015 the truly international flavour of this race was underlined as the American horse Undrafted beat the Australian challenger Brazen Beau, with Astaire, the best of the British runners in third place.
The 2016 renewal saw a thrilling finish which again underlined the international appeal of this contest, with the Henry Candy trained Twilight Son just getting up to beat Hong-Kong’s Gold-Fun, with the French horse Signs Of Blessing third and Magical Memory fourth. The distances were a neck, a short head and a neck.
A year later there was a popular winner, as the James Fanshawe trained The Tin Man, ran out the winner in a thrilling finish, from Limato.
In 2018, Aidan O’Brien brought over his exciting ex-Australian horse Merchant Navy. In a desperately tight finish, he just held off the French runner City Light, before retiring to stud.
DIAMOND JUBILEE STAKES WINNERS
2018 MERCHANT NAVY Aidan O’Brien
2017 THE TIN MAN James Fanshawe
2016 TWILIGHT SON Henry Candy
2015 UNDRAFTED Wesley Ward
2014 SLADE POWER Edward Lynam
2013 LETHAL FORCE Clive Cox
2012 BLACK CAVIAR Peter Moody
2011 SOCIETY ROCK James Fanshawe
2010 STARSPANGLEDBANNER Aidan O’Brien
2009 ART CONNOISSEUR Michael Bell
2008 KINGSGATE NATIVE John Best
2007 SOLDIER’S TALE Jeremy Noseda
2006 LES ARCS Tim Pitt
2005 CAPE OF GOOD HOPE David Oughton
2004 FAYR JAG Tim Easterby
2003 CHOISIR Paul Perry
2002 MALHUB John Gosden
2001 HARMONIC WAY Roger Charlton
2000 SUPERIOR PREMIUM Richard Fahey
1999 BOLD EDGE Richard Hannon snr
1998 TOMBA Brian Meehan
1997 ROYAL APPLAUSE Barry Hills
1996 ATRAF David Morley
1995 SO FACTUAL Saeed bin Suroor
1994 OWINGTON Geoff Wragg
1993 COLLEGE CHAPEL Vincent O’Brien
1992 SHALFORD Richard Hannon snr
1991 POLISH PATRIOT Guy Harwood
1990 GREAT COMMOTION Alex Scott
1989 DANEHILL Jeremy Tree
1988 POSADA Fulke Johnson Houghton
1987 BIG SHUFFLE Dermot Weld
1986 SPERRY Peter Walwyn
1985 DAFAYNA Michael Stoute
1984 COMMITTED Dermot Weld
1983 SYLVAN BARBAROSA Philip Mitchell
1982 INDIAN KING Guy Harwood
1981 THE QUIET BIDDER Reg Hollinshead
1980 KEARNEY Willie Robinson
1979 THATCHING Vincent O’Brien
1978 SWEET MINT Noel Meade
1977 HE LOVES ME Jeremy Hindley
1976 GENTILHOMBRE Neil Adam