When it comes to juvenile races, there are few race that are as informative or influential as those run at Royal Ascot. The best of the bunch comes late at the meeting in race three on the final day in 2020 (the opening day ordinarily), in the form of the Coventry Stakes.
The likes of Mill Reef, Henrythenavigator and Dawn Approach all initially burst on to the scene in a contest which can often point the way to future excellence.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 20th June 2020
- Winner: Nando Parrado
- SP: 150/1
- Trainer: Clive Cox
- Jockey: Adam Kirby
Six furlongs is the trip for this Group 2 contest on Day 5 at Royal Ascot, with the race offering £60,000 in guaranteed prize money in 2020. The ground at the track is currently described as soft, but may firm up a little come race day, although there was some rain Thursday.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Soft||6f||Group 2||£60,000||16 Runners||1/5 1-4|
Coventry Stakes Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
One of the most informative juvenile contests of the entire season, winners of this event have regularly gone on to big things, with the names of Henrythenavigator, Caravaggio and all-time great, Mill Reef amongst the names to feature on the roll of honour here.
It is once again the name of Aidan O’Brien which sits atop the trainers’ table in this race, with the Ballydoyle maestro registering an impressive nine previous successes in the event. He took this 12 months ago with Arizona and with the brilliant Caravaggio in 2016.
This has been a good race for supporters of the market leader in recent times, with five of the past 10 favourites or joint favourites coming home in front, returning a level stakes profit of just a fraction under 10 points. That’s a very handy return and worth bearing in mind for sure.
|Admiral Nelson||11/4||Aidan O'Brien||Ryan Moore|
|Qaader||9/2||Mark Johnston||Jim Crowley|
|Creative Force||13/2||Charlie Appleby||William Buick|
Admiral Nelson (11/4)
Considering his formidable record in the race, the most obvious place to start here is with the sole entry from the yard of Aidan O’Brien. O’Brien can often be mob-handed in these big races, so it should probably be taken as a big positive for the horse that the Kingman colt, Admiral Nelson is his only runner this time around. Given the record of favourites in this race, there are sure to be many who look no further and we’re inclined to agree.
A really striking individual, Admiral Nelson dwarfed many of his rivals when making his debut in a 5f event at the Curragh on the 12th June. Travelling noticeably well throughout that contest, he then put the race to bed with the minimum of fuss to score by a length from stablemate Merchants Quay.
He will be tackling 6f for the first time here, but the manner in which he hit the line that day strongly suggested that this step up in trip ought to suit. On the downside this race does come pretty quickly after that debut success, and the ground will likely be significantly slower, but he did undoubtedly ooze a touch of star quality on that first racecourse appearance.
Admiral Neslon is far from the only runner arriving here on the back of a debut success. There are eight other first-time out scorers in total in the line up, including the Mark Johnston-trained, Qaader. Qaader’s sire Night Of Thunder mugged Kingman late on in the 2014 Guineas, and no doubt Johnston will be hoping for a similar result as two of those sire’s more promising sons clash here.
12th June was certainly a good day for impressive debut performances, as that was also the day in which Qaader first took to the track at Newbury. Not as physically imposing as Admiral Nelson, he nevertheless posted an excellent performance, travelling sweetly towards the front end before only really needing to be pushed out for a five length success. With that event coming over this 6f trip, we do already know that he stays this distance well, but in common with the market leader he does have that quick turnaround to contend with.
Creative Force (13/2)
Next in the betting is Creative Force who goes for the boys in blue of Godolphin. Beautifully bred, being by superstar sire Dubawi, and out of a mare by the brilliant sprinter Choisir – who himself won twice at this meeting - this chestnut colt has an attractive mix of speed and class on paper, and looks a major contender under William Buick.
Of course, it is one thing looking good on the breeding page, and another to do it on the track. However, this one has also made a most encouraging start in that regard. Bagging the rail early on debut in a Newmarket maiden over this trip, he never really looked in any serious danger of being caught, finally asserting in the last furlong under only gentle urging.
The time of that race compared favourably with the others on that card, and this one looks set to go well. Having made his debut a week earlier than Admiral Nelson and Qadaar, he has had that bit longer to recover, which can only count in his favour. This is shaping up to be a really interesting race and we can’t wait!
Coventry Stakes Winners
|2020||Nando Parrado||150/1||Clive Cox||Adam Kirby|
|2019||Arizona||15/8||Aidan O'Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2018||Calyx||2/1||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2017||Rajasinghe||11/1||Richard Spencer||Stevie Donohoe|
|2016||Caravaggio||13/8||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2015||Buratino||6/1||Mark Johnston||William Buick|
|2014||The Wow Signal||5/1||John Quinn||Frankie Dettori|
|2013||War Command||20/1||Aidan O'Brien||Seamie Heffernan|
|2012||Dawn Approach||7/2||Jim Bolger||Kevin Manning|
|2011||Power||4/1||Aidan O'Brien||Ryan Moore|
About the Coventry Stakes
Having cemented itself as a regular of Royal Ascot’s opening day, the Coventry Stake finds itself among some top class company. While not one of the highlight events of the day, it’s still a race that is very much held in high regard. Dating back to 1890, it gets its name from the 9th Earl of Coventry who was serving as the Master of the Buckhounds at the time. He would end up being the second to last person ever to hold the role, with the position abolished in 1901.
While not a contest that lasts for a long time, the two-year-old sprinters involved regularly provide a feast for the eyes as they battle it out over six furlongs. This has particularly been the case since the Coventry Stakes enjoyed promotion to Group 2 in 2004 as we’ve seen higher quality fields ever since.
FIRST CHANCE TO SHINE
For most horses involved in this race, it’s the first high quality test of their career. Only two-year-old’s are allowed to compete and while fillies are eligible to join in, it’s usually a colt-only affair. The young runners that line-up for the six furlong contest have a real chance to put themselves on the radar here and many have gone on to claim further success soon after. Both Dawn Approach and War Command for instance won the lucrative Dewhurst Stakes months after winning this race.
Dual Coventry Stakes & Dewhurst Stakes Winners: 1890 – 2019
|2013||War Command||Aidan O’Brien|
|2012||Dawn Approach||Jim Bolger|
|1970||Mill Reef||Ian Balding|
|1964||Silly Season||Ian Balding|
|1948||Royal Forest||Noel Murless|
|1902||Rock Sand||George Blackwell|
Not all Coventry Stakes go on to win such high class events but most use it as a platform for a credible debut season. For all the potential formers winners have displayed though, there are a few who have simply been unable to push on. A Coventry Stakes win represented the peak point in the careers of 2017 champion Rajasinghe and 2015 winner Buratino. The pair endured a miserable season as three-year-olds, a stark reminder that things can change quickly in racing.
FORM SO IMPORTANT
If there’s one thing to look out for during a Coventry Stakes renewal, it’s how all the contenders performed last time out. You very rarely see a horse claim this Group 2 title having failed to arrive at Royal Ascot on the back of a win.
In most cases victories will have been a recent one but there have been those who’ve claimed glory here following a lengthier break of over a month.
Nando Parrado Defies the Odds Again
The 2020 renewal of this race produce not only the biggest shock of the meeting but in Royal Ascot history. The winner was Nando Parrado trained by Clive Cox and ridden by Adam Kirby who came in with a start price of 150/1 having opened up at 125/1 and drifted in the betting. This was the longest priced winner ever at Royal Ascot.
Prominent out of the starting gates, the bay colt was ridden to the front of the field, taking the lead two furlongs from the finish. The lead is where he stayed, battling to a famous one length victory.
The horse was named after another individual who overcame their odds, the Uruguayan Fernando “Nando” Seler Parrado Dolgay. In 1972, Fernando was one of the survivors of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 which crashed into the Andes Mountains. He and fellow passenger Robert Canessa embarked on a trek lasting almost two weeks in order to find help, leading to the rescue of themselves and 14 others. The story was made into a feature film in 1993 titled ‘Alive’, where Nando was played by Ethan Hawke.
O’BRIEN KEEN ON COVENTRY
In 2019, Aidan O’Brien made it win number nine in this race as the well-backed Arizona powered past the winning post. His record could well be one that survives for some time too with no trainer producing an endless stream of quality two-year-olds quite as well as the Irishman.
AIDAN O’BRIEN’S COVENTRY STAKES WINNERS
|2019||Arizona||15/8 f||Ryan Moore|
|2016||Caravaggio||13/8 f||Ryan Moore|
|2013||War Command||20/1||Seamie Heffernan|
|2011||Power||4/1 f||Ryan Moore|
|2007||Henrythenavigator||11/4 f||Michael Kinane|
|2002||Statue Of Liberty||5/2 f||Michael Kinane|
|1999||Fasliyev||15/8 f||Michael Kinane|
|1997||Harbour Master||16/1||Christy Roche|
An equally imposing record set in this race comes courtesy of one of the all-time greats, Sir Gordon Richards. He rode the winner on nine occasions between 1932 and 1951, a truly remarkable feat.
A LONG BUT QUIET PAST
For well over a century the Coventry Stakes has provided us with some fascinating contests and it remains exactly the same race it was in 1890. Run under the same name, at the same course and over the same distance, it’s an event that has stayed true to its roots. Occasionally it has been held elsewhere either due to war or renovation, but its true home has always been Ascot.