In horse racing, a selling race, also known as a ‘selling plate’, or ‘seller’, for short, is a low-grade race in which the winner must be offered for sale at public auction, subject to a minimum bid of £3,200, or more, at the discretion of the racecourse. Aside from the winner, beaten horses in a selling race may be ‘claimed’ for a value specified by the trainer of the horse in question when making the entry for the race.
Selling races can be conditions, or stakes, races, in which horses carry weight according to their age and sex, or handicaps, in which horses carry weight according to their official handicap ratings, as allotted by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), Either way, the prize money in selling races is generally poor and, prior to October, 2018, selling races were subject to varying amounts of commission, up to 50% above the minimum bid, from racecourse to racecourse. At that point, in a effort to encourage owners to run their horses in selling races, the BHA capped the maximum commission retained by racecourses at 10% of the sale price.
Royal Ascot, running for five days in mid June of each year (Tuesday 16th June – Saturday 20th June in 2020), is one of the most highly anticipated events in UK racing. With its royal connections and history dating back to 1911, it’s one to watch for all ardent horse racing fans.
As is the nature of racing, it’s impossible to totally rule out big raced winners, and over the years outsiders have won even the most prestigious of Royal Ascot races. I recall Arcadian Heights winning the 1994 Gold Cup on his third attempt as outsider at 20-1.
2020 was no exception for big priced winners. There were several horses winning at big odds with bookmakers over the five days (Onassis and Scarlett Dragon both won as 33-1 outsiders). As often happens though, racing saves the best for last. On the final day not only did Frankie Dettori pull off an impressive treble (which as an accumulator would have been 150-1), but it also brought us the biggest odds winner in Royal Ascot history, co-incidentally also 150-1, Nando Parrado.
Coming in at only fifth on his Newmarket debut earlier this month, Nando Parrado simply wasn’t on the radar, and left punters and bookmakers stunned with a performance that earned him the title of biggest price Royal Ascot winner in modern times. He looked to have serious ambitions as he started the Coventry Stakes, featuring prominently. Qaader put down a challenge but there was only one winner on the day, Nando Parrado, ridden by Jockey Adam Kirby. Prior to this the longest-priced outsider winner in Royal Ascot’s history was Flashmans Papers in the 2008 Windsor Castle and Fox Chapel in the 1990 Britannia Stakes.
After the victory Trainer Clive Cox was more inclined to say he was shocked by the 150-1 price, rather than the win, “I was just saying it is not a shock. The price was a shock. He is a proper horse and we loved him from the start. It was always the plan to come here, it was just a sideways step on his first run.”. Before 2020, the biggest priced winner(s) in the Coventry Stakes was just 20-1 (Chief Singer (1983), Landseer (2001), War Command (2013)). At 150-1 with bookmakers – and much bigger on the exchanges – Nando Parrado has set a Royal Ascot record that’s going to be hard to top.
The Queen was absent from the prestigious Royal Ascot event in 2020 due to the coronavirus. For many months, the global covid-19 pandemic removed the prospect of sport being held, and even upon its return it did so without crowds. Partly due to this, and also due to social distancing rules, it was simply not safe for the Queen to attend Royal Ascot 2020. She instead continued to isolate in Windsor castle.
Known to be an ardent racing fan (taking after her Mother), as well as a thoroughbred owner, the Queen penned a heartfelt message celebrating the return of racing, as well as commending those involved.
“I am sure… that with the valiant efforts of the organisers, owners, trainers and stable staff, it will remain one of Britain’s finest sporting occasions and a highlight of the racing calendar” she said.
Being just six miles from the course must have made the need to stay away all the more difficult for the 94 year old. Ascot Racecourse is on Crown Estate which is owned by the Queen. She’s had many winning horses over the years at Royal Ascot, including Gold Cup winner Estimate in 2013. Until 1945 the racecourse was solely used for royal meetings.
Although not quite in the same league as Brown Jack, who won the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot six years running between 1929 and 1934, Trelawny was, nonetheless, one of the most popular British racehorses of the early Sixties. Two years running, in 1962 and 1963, Trelawny won both the Ascot Stakes and the Queen Alexandra Stakes at the Royal Meeting and although failing to complete a third consecutive double in 1964, lost nothing in defeat. He was second in the Ascot Stakes, conceding an eye-watering 40lb, or 2st 12lb, to the winner and would have walked over in the Queen Alexandra Stakes had racing on Thursday and Friday not been abandoned because of the waterlogged state of the course.
Trelawny was trained by George Todd at Manton, near Marlborough, Wiltshire. Todd was renowned as a trainer of staying horses and an intrepid gambler; he bought the Manton Estate from Tattersalls in 1947 and reputedly paid off the balance – £47,000, or £1.85 million by modern standards – with the proceeds from a series of winning bets on Dramatic in the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster in 1950, which he carried to London in a paper bag. He would remain at Manton until his retirement in 1973.