The St James’s Palace Stakes is one of the most famous races of the whole meeting, as the classic generation of colts lock horns over the Guineas distance of one mile. Ordinarily this is the third and final of the Group 1’s on the opening day at Royal Ascot, following on from the Queen Anne Stakes and the King’s Stand Stakes.
The St James’ Palace Stakes was one of the races picked up by Frankel during his illustrious career, the roll of honour here reads like a who’s who of the greatest milers in the history of the sport including Rock Of Gibraltar, Giant’s Causeway and Brigadier Gerard.
St James’s Palace Stakes Course Map (Flat Course)
St James’s Palace Stakes Past Winners
|2021||Poetic Flare||7/2||Jim Bolger||Kevin Manning|
|2020||Palace Pier||4/1||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2019||Circus Maximus||10/1||Aidan O'Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2018||Without Parole||9/4||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2017||Barney Roy||5/2||Richard Hannon||James Doyle|
|2016||Galileo Gold||6/1||Hugo Palmer||Frankie Dettori|
|2015||Gleneagles||8/15||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2014||Kingman||8/11||John Gosden||James Doyle|
|2013||Dawn Approach||5/4||Jim Bolger||Kevin Manning|
|2012||Most Improved||9/1||Brian Meehan||Kieren Fallon|
|2011||Frankel||3/10||Sir Henry Cecil||Tom Queally|
|2010||Canford Cliffs||11/4||Richard Hannon Sr.||Richard Hughes|
|2009||Mastercraftsman||5/6||Aidan O'Brien||Johnny Murtagh|
|2008||Henrythenavigator||4/7||Aidan O'Brien||Johnny Murtagh|
|2007||Excellent Art||8/1||Aidan O'Brien||Jamie Spencer|
|2006||Araafa||2/1||Jeremy Noseda||Alan Munro|
|2005||Shamardal||7/4||Saeed bin Suroor||Kerrin McEvoy|
|2004||Azamour||9/2||John Oxx||Michael Kinane|
|2003||Zafeen||8/1||Mick Channon||Darryll Holland|
|2002||Rock of Gibraltar||4/5||Aidan O'Brien||Michael Kinane|
About the St James’s Palace Stakes
Colts have no shortage of top class races to choose from when they turn three years old. Not only can they compete in races such as the 2,000 Guineas and Poule d’Essai des Poulains but they enjoy exclusive access to the St James’s Palace Stakes, run during the opening day of Royal Ascot. For the horse first over the line during this prestigious Group 1 contest, they will bag their connections over £300k in prize money though this will be £148,000 in 2020.
It won’t be too long before the one mile race celebrates its 200th birthday. Introduced in 1834, the St James’s Palace Stakes, named after a royal residence during the Tudor period, is an event with a deeply rich history. It began on a less than impressive footing however with the first ever edition of the race a walkover, won by Plenipotentiary. He certainly wasn’t an unworthy champion however as the Derby winner was one of the best British horses of his era.
A 2,000 GUINEAS RE-MATCH
Both the 2,000 Guineas and the Irish equivalent take place earlier on in the flat season and many leading horses from them go on to featuring in the St James’s Palace Stakes. It’s really worth keeping your eye on the results of these two Classic events as several winners have often secured glory in this race too.
Since 1999, 27% of St James’s Palace Stakes winners have been 2000 Guineas Champions, 36% have been Irish 2000 Guineas Winners with 14% winners of both.
Sometimes strong performers in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains also make their way into the St James’s Palace although at the time of writing 2005 was the last time we had a double winner in the form of Shamardal when the race took place at York, Sendawar in 1999 the previous French 2000 Guineas winner victorious in this.
That said, of the three winners since 2018, none have competed in the British, French or Irish versions of the 2000 Guineas. Without Parole warmed up for his victory in 2018 by winning the Listed Heron Stakes at Sandown. Connections of Circus Maximus chose to compete in the Dee Stakes at Chester and the Epsom Derby. In a disrupted calendar in 2020, Palace Pier prepared for his win by easing to a three length Handicap win on the all-weather at Newcastle.
DON’T LOOK FAR DOWN THE BETTING
The bookies have done a pretty decent job of calling the winner of this race, certainly in more recent races. The favourite (or joint favourite) has won 12 of the last 21 renewals so it’s not been the most profitable of races for the bookmakers.
The only long-priced winners in the last decade came in 2012 and in 2019. When Circus Maximus won in 2019, it was on the back of a sixth placed finish in the Epsom Derby. When Most Improved (slightly unexpectedly) bounced back from a poor display at Chantilly in 2012, he did so during a particularly well-attended St James’s Palace renewal, one that saw 16 horses competing for glory over one mile.
O’BRIEN HITS TWO HAT-TRICKS
It’s hard enough for any trainer to win this race let alone with it on three consecutive occasions yet Aidan O’Brien has twice secured a hat-trick of victories. The County Wexford-born trainer saddled Giant’s Causeway, Black Minnaloushe and Rock Of Gibraltar to victory between 2000 and 2002 before doing the same again with Canford Cliffs, Henrythenavigator and Mastercraftsman between 2008 and 2010. He’s has added to these with victories in 2015 and 2019 with Gleneagles and Circus Maximus.
On all occasions the horses were at least part owned by Sue Magnier and husband John Magnier. It’s an especially impressive achievement knowing that no other trainer since the start of the 20th century has managed three consecutive wins in this race.
FRANKEL’S RARE MOMENT OF VULNERABILITY
The only time Frankel experienced a real scare in a Class 1 race was during the 2011 edition of the St James’s Palace Stakes. The once highest rated racehorse in the world approached his first Royal Ascot unbeaten in six starts was trading at a short 1/3 price to secure St James’s Palace success. Having been ridden hard by Tom Queally mid-race, the then three-year-old began to tire, allowing the chasing pack to close in. Aidan O’Brien’s Zoffany in particular was closing the gap at a rapid rate but the finish line came just in time to save the odds-on favourite, and spare the blushes of his jockey.