Like many of the races at Royal Ascot, the Queen Anne Stakes has been through a number of changes down the years.
Today the race commemorates Queen Anne, the founder of Ascot Racecourse, having been run as the Trial Stakes from 1840.
The Queen Anne Stakes was classed as a Group 3 race in 1971, and it was promoted to Group 2 level in 1984. It then attained Group 1 status in 2003.
But the changes did not stop there. Prior to 2003 the race was open to horses aged 3 years or older, along with the Lockinge Stakes, making it one of the first major tests of the Classic generation against older horses over a mile. The Lockinge Stakes also changed its conditions becoming exclusive to older horses only, prior to the Queen Anne’s amendment.
Today the Group one race takes place over the straight mile at Ascot and has the honour of being the first race of the Royal Meeting.
The first winner of the race was Flambeau, a horse who quickly made his mark by becoming the first of four horses to win the race twice when he followed-up in 1841. Other dual winners were Toastmaster (1885 and 1886), Worcester (1895 and 1896) and Dean Swift (1906 and 1907).
It should be remembered that the race was of a lower grade until its relatively recent history and the country’s top horses would often target more valuable prizes if they indeed stayed in training.
Sir Gordon Richards enjoyed great success in the Queen Anne Stakes, winning the race no fewer than six times: Sunderland (1925), Sundry (1927), Coldstream (1931), Fair Trial (1935), Pambidian (1949) and Southborne (1952).
His record was matched by Frankie Dettori who to date has also won six renewals: Markofdistinction (1990), Allied Forces (1997), Intikhab (1998), Dubai Destination (2003), Refuse to Bend (2004), and Ramonti (2007).
Dettori’s success has been heavily influenced by the Godolphin string and his last five successes were in the Royal blue silks and contributed to Saaed bin Suroor’s seven triumphs, making him the most successful trainer in the race’s current history thanks to: Charnwood Forest (1996), Allied Forces (1997), Intikhab (1998), Cape Cross (1999), Dubai Destination (2003), Refuse to Bend (2004), and Ramonti (2007).
Town Crier was a smart winner of the race in 1960 and the following year Welsh pageant landed the Queen Anne before going on to become a successful sire. Sun Prince followed-up his St James’s Palace Stakes victory of the previous year with a win in 1973 and then came the most sensational renewal – and one of the most controversial races of all time.
In 1974 Brook won the Queen Anne Stakes. But that hardly tells the whole story because Brook finished fourth past the post. For differing reasons the Stewards disqualified the three horses who finished in front of Brook, namely Confusion, Gloss and Royal Prerogative. Perhaps the three were aptly named as the result caused confusion but was the Royal stewards’ prerogative and took the gloss off the race in no uncertain terms. Nonetheless, Brook was the official winner. Two magnificent old timers Jellaby and Radetzky took the race before the decade finished.
The early 1980s were dominated by Henry Cecil who landed the race with Belmont Bay (1981), Mr Fluorocarbon (1982), Valiyar (1983) and Trojan Fen (1984); with Mr Fluorocarbon and Trojan Fen winning the race as three year olds.
Rousillon proved a top class winner in 1985, going on to win the Sussex Stakes later in the season, while Pennine Walk was a classy winner the following year.
In 1987 Then Again was another top class winner, defeating Water Cay and the outstanding filly Sonic Lady. Then Again was a top class miler susceptible to injuries but was back in action in 1988 at a time when the influence of the Maktoum family was being keenly felt. Indeed Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Waajib landed the 1988 renewal from Sheikh Mohammed’s outstanding French Guineas winner Soviet Star, with Then Again in third.
The top miler in 1988 was undoubtedly Warning and Guy Harwood’s formidable little warrior shook off the disappointment of a defeat in the Lockinge Stakes to beat the smart Reprimand with a champagne performance in the 1989 Queen Anne Stakes.
The lightly-raced Markofdistinction had finished fourth in Nashwan’s 2,000 Guineas and stayed in training in 1990, giving Frankie Dettori a big race win by a neck over Mirror Black. Later in the year he gave the popular Italian jockey his first ever Group 1 victory in the Queen Elizabeth IInd Stakes. 24 years on and at the time of writing, Frankie has recorded his 200th Group 1 success courtesy of Olympic Glory.
Sikeston became a regular name in Europe’s top mile races around this era and Clive Brittain’s 5 year old landed the 1991 Queen Anne Stakes under Michael Roberts. The following year Sikeston ran another big race to finish third behind the improving Lahib and Second Set. This race heralded the arrival of Lahib who also won the Queen Elizabeth IInd Stakes by year’s end.
Another of Clive Brittain’s regulars around this time was Alflora who caused a shock in 1993, a year when Barathea proved a top class miler from the Classic generation. Barathea stayed in training in 1994 and duly won the Queen Anne Stakes and at the end of his career added the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
A year on and there was another shock as Nicolotte upset Clive Brittain’s 1,000 Guineas winner Sayyedati but in 1996, the classy Charnwood Forest, who had finished second to Bahri in the previous year’s St James’s Palace Stakes, easily put his rivals to the sword in the Queen Anne.
Charnwood Forest proved the first of four consecutive winners for Godolphin, as Allied Forces and then Intikhab brought up the Dettori treble in the race, defeating future Sussex Stakes winners Ali-Royal and Among Men.
But the Godolphin four-timer in the Queen Anne was not completed by Dettori in 1999, for he chose to ride Fa-Eq for his retained connections. The race instead was won by “second string” Cape Cross – a former Lockinge Stakes winner who would become an outstanding stallion in time. On this occasion, Cape Cross was partnered by the legendary American jockey Gary Stevens, riding in the UK during the 1999 season.
The exciting but lightly-raced Kalanisi served notice of his improvement in an excellent 2000 renewal, beating the likes of Dansili, Swallow Flight and Aljabr. Kalanisi stepped up in trip later on and is best remembered for his two titanic battles with Giant’s Causeway, but also beat Montjeu in the Champion Stakes before winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Kalanisi was trained by Sir Michael Stoute and ridden by Kieren Fallon and the pair combined again the following year as the progressive Medicean won the Queen Anne Stakes en-route to winning the Coral Eclipse Stakes the following month.
Stoute’s No Excuse Needed delivered the Newmarket trainer with a hat-trick of victories in the race in 2002, before Godolphin got back to winning ways the next two years, courtesy of Dubai Destination and then the former 2,000 Guineas winner Refuse To Bend in 2004.
In 2005 Royal Ascot moved to York Racecourse and the smart French colt Valixir won a vintage renewal from Rakti and Starcraft.
Ad Valorum, a former Middle Park Stakes winner got back to Group 1 form in 2006 with a first victory in the race for trainer Aidan O’Brien. However O’Brien’s 2,000 Guineas winner George Washington, back in action following a failed stud career, was only fourth in 2007 to the former Italian trained Godolphin colt Ramonti, who would prove the leading miler of the year.
Ballydoyle landed the 2008 renewal with the ex-Australian colt Haradasun, who beat two crack fillies in Darjina and Finsceal Beo, while his stable mate Mount Nelson, starting at 33/1, would later win the Coral Eclipse Stakes. Haradasun was promptly retired after this success.
The classy Paco Boy proved he got the mile with victory in the 2009 Queen Anne; among his victims was future Group 1 winner Aqlaam. A year later, Richard Hannon’s popular colt just went down by ¼ of a length to the brilliant mare Goldikova in a race which also featured Rip Van Winkle.
Having secured her third Breeders’ Cup Mile in 2010, Goldikova was back again in 2011 but controversy ensued as the Hannons gained revenge for Paco Boy’s narrow defeat, by beating the French mare with Canford Cliffs and denying her the opportunity of defending her title. The controversy came when it was announced that Olivier Peslier, Goldikova’s jockey, had carried two pounds overweight and the winning margin of just a length, might easily have been reversed. However Canford Cliffs was crowning an outstanding career which had one last chapter when he was no match for the imperious Frankel in the Sussex Stakes.
Frankel of course had taken the racing world by storm and after rumours of a career-ending injury were dispelled with a sparkling performance in the 2012 Locking Stakes, Sir Henry Cecil’s 4 year old headed to Royal Ascot for the Queen Anne. Among his rivals was regular foe Excelebration, a colt who regularly won Group 1 mile contests when Frankel wasn’t around – and he was now in the care of Aidan O’Brien. However the 2012 Queen Anne Stakes was an extraordinary exhibition of Frankel’s talent as the colt stretched away from his toiling rivals to record a remarkable 11 length victory in a Group 1 mile race!
The international nature of modern Royal Ascot has been well represented by recent runnings of the Queen Anne Stakes. Of course Haradasun came from Australia to win the race and in 2013 the ex-American trained Declaration Of War upset the hot favourite Animal Kingdom, a horse trained in America who had won the Dubai World Cup! Declaration Of War was another success for Aidan O’Brien and beat some smart horses including Aljamaheer and Elusive Kate.
In 2014 the cream again rose to the top as Toronado made a winning seasonal debut, confirming the status of this contest as one of the biggest mile contests of the year.
A year later Royal Ascot played host to a truly global superstar in the shape of French grey Solow, who duly landed the opening contest of the Meeting.
The global theme very much continued in 2016, as the flying American mare Tepin, already the Breeders’ Cup Mile winner, took Royal Ascot by storm.
The cream truly rose to the top in 2017, as the classy Ribchester was successful for Yorkshire-based trainer Richard Fahey.
In 2018, there was a shock as the Eve Johnson Houghton trained Accidental Agent, beat a high class international line-up, including: Benbatl, Rhododendron, Century Dream, Lord Glitters, Lightning Spear, Limato, Recoletos (Prix d’Ispahan), Yoshida (Turf Classic Stakes), Deauville (Belmont Derby) and Suedois (Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes).
Winners of the Queen Anne Stakes since 1980
|2002||No Excuse Needed||4|
|2004||Refuse to Bend||4|
|2013||Declaration of War||4|