One of Royal Ascot’s many attractions is the opportunity to see some of the speediest performers in the game in full flight. In terms of the sprint events for the two year olds they don’t come much quicker than this thrilling contest held over the minimum trip.
The Norfolk Stakes began life as the New Stakes back in 1843, renamed after the 16th Duke of Norfolk in 1973. The race is now one of the key juvenile sprints of the turf flat season.
Norfolk Stakes Course Map (Flat Course)
The Norfolk Stakes is a straight 5f dash that begins to the right of the main circuit if viewed from the Ascot grandstands.
Norfolk Stakes Past Winners
|2021||Perfect Power||14/1||Richard Fahey||Paul Hanagan|
|2020||The Lir Jet||9/2||Michael Bell||Oisin Murphy|
|2019||A'Ali||5/1||Simon Crisford||Frankie Dettori|
|2018||Shang Shang Shang||5/1||Wesley Ward||Joel Rosario|
|2017||Sioux Nation||14/1||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2016||Prince Of Lir||8/1||Robert Cowell||Luke Morris|
|2015||Waterloo Bridge||12/1||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2014||Baitha Alga||8/1||Richard Hannon||Frankie Dettori|
|2013||No Nay Never||4/1||Wesley Ward||Joel Rosario|
|2012||Reckless Abandon||4/1||Clive Cox||Adam Kirby|
|2011||Bapak Chinta||6/1||Kevin Ryan||Phillip Makin|
|2010||Approve||16/1||William Haggas||Eddie Ahern|
|2009||Radiohead||10/1||Brian Meehan||Jamie Spencer|
|2008||South Central||11/4||Howard Johnson||Robert Winston|
|2007||Winker Watson||2/1||Peter Chapple-Hyam||Jimmy Fortune|
|2006||Dutch Art||11/4||Peter Chapple-Hyam||Alan Munro|
|2005||Masta Plasta||7/2||Howard Johnson||Robert Winston|
|2004||Blue Dakota||5/4||Jeremy Noseda||Eddie Ahern|
|2003||Russian Valour||4/1||Mark Johnston||Kevin Darley|
|2002||Baron's Pit||12/1||Richard Hannon Sr.||Richard Hughes|
About the Norfolk Stakes
Like many races during Royal Ascot, the Norfolk Stakes is one with a lengthy history. It first began way back in 1843 and was then known as the New Stakes.
Perhaps no longer seen as a fitting title for a 130 year old race, the event was renamed the Norfolk Stakes in 1973. It did so to honour the 16th Duke of Norfolk, who, between 1945 and 1972, served as HM’s Representative at Ascot.
Today the five furlong race is purely as a contest for two-year-old horses. Fillies, although not a large feature of the race, are free to take part.
The few that do go to post benefit from a 3lb allowance, something that Shang Shang Shang used to good effect in 2018 as she won by a nose. Female winners are a rarity in this Group 2 event though with the boys long the dominant force.
CURSE OF THE FAVOURITE
In a race that regularly features double digit fields, you don’t expect the favourites to win every time but you do expect them to at least win now and again. The Norfolk Stakes has been a particularly fruitless hunting ground for the shortest-priced horses though, with no favourite victorious since 2008. It’s hard to say very many since then have come too close either as the below chart shows.
BREEDERS’ CUP INVOLVEMENT
The Breeders’ Cup grew a little larger in 2018 thanks to the creation of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. In order to gain automatic entry to the five and a half furlong race, valued at $1m, a horse must win one of the four qualifying races. The first of the ‘win and you’re in’ races to take place is the Norfolk Stakes, something that has helped increase the stock of this sprint event.
BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE SPRINT QUALIFIERS (2020)
|Prix Morny||Deauville (FRA)||August|
|Speakeasy Stakes||Santa Anita Park (USA)||October|
|Indian Summer Stakes||Keeneland (USA)||October|
|Futurity Stakes||Belmont Park (USA)||October|
The move will also help sustain the American interest in the Group 2 event. Horses born across the Atlantic have won five renewals since 2008 alone and we could well see several more over the coming years.
PIGGOTT’S RECORD UNDER NO THREAT
No active jockey is remotely close to matching the number of victories Lester Piggott managed in this race. One of the all-time greats of racing won so many different races throughout his illustrious career but few as often as the Norfolk Stakes.
Between 1961 and 1992, the Berkshire-born jockey rode his horse to glory on nine occasions, often against the odds. His final hurrah in this race came on 1,000 Guineas runner-up Niche and footage of the close fought contest can be seen below.