Coronation Cup: 21st Century Trends

Epsom’s two-day Derby meeting is perhaps the most significant fixture of the British Racing year. Ask any leading trainer which race they would most like to win with a colt or filly, and the chances are high that the Derby and the Oaks will feature at the top of the list.

The Classic contests quite rightly take centre stage at this June meeting, but they aren’t the only Group 1 events to take place over the twists, turns, and undulations of the most famous 1m4f course in the world. Acting as the chief supporting act on the opening day, the Coronation Cup gives the older horses, i.e. those aged four and above, their chance to shine.

Added to the Epsom menu in 1902, the Coronation Cup regularly attracts runners who lined up in the Derby or Oaks during their Classic campaign and boasts a roll of honour crammed with racing greats – Pretty Polly, Petite Etoile, Mill Reef, Rainbow Quest, Singspiel, and St Nicholas Abbey amongst the superstars to have landed the prize.

Offering £425,000 (2024) in total prize money, the race never fails to attract a selection of the most talented older horses in training, but other than class, what does it take to win? Here, we look back at the 24 editions of the race between 2000 and 2023 and pick out a few stats and trends which may assist in identifying the most likely contenders.

Age of Winner

Coronation Cup Age of Winner

French raider, Cirrus Des Aisles, became the joint oldest winner of the Coronation Cup when coming home in front in 2014. That result aside, the race has been dominated by runners falling towards the lower end of the age range. The five-year-olds have fared best, whilst 20 of 24 winners (83.33%) were either four or five years of age. 2023 heroine Emily Upjohn was the only filly or mare to lift the Coronation Cup in the period analysed.

Leading Trainers

Coronation Cup Leading Trainers

As is almost always the case in Group 1 middle-distance events, Ballydoyle supremo Aidan O’Brien sits atop the training tree – his tally of eight wins making him the most successful trainer in the history of the race. Sir Michael Stoute has fared best of the home team, with the Newmarket handler’s talent with older runners shining through in this event. Having also won in 1992, 1993 and 1997, Stoute has five wins in total.

Despite O’Brien’s record, British-based trainers led the way with 13 wins, compared to eight for Ireland, two for France, and one for Germany.

Top Jockeys

Coronation Cup Top Jockeys

The winners have been shared around more evenly amongst the jockeys, with all-time greats Ryan Moore, Frankie Dettori and Kieren Fallon sitting in a three-way tie for the 21st-century lead. Having also scored with Swain (1996) and Singspiel (1997), Dettori has the best overall record of that trio, but having relocated to the US, he is unlikely to add to that tally. Lester Piggot tops the all-time table with an impressive nine wins.

Leading Sires

Coronation Cup Leading Sires

The greatest sire of the modern era, Galileo, has a respectable record in the Coronation Cup but lies behind his own sire Sadler’s Wells and half-brother Montjeu. Montjeu’s place at the top of the table arrived courtesy of five winners between 2007 and 2013, including three in a row by St Nicholas Abbey (2011, 2012, 2013).

The Sadler’s Wells influence is strong amongst Coronation Cup winners. In addition to siring three winners, Sadler’s Wells was also the sire of Montjeu and Galileo, who in turn sired Frankel.

Finishing Position Last Time Out

Coronation Cup Finishing Position Last Time Out

A solid performance on their previous outing has been a positive in this race. 11 winners also scored last time out, whilst 20 of 24 at least finished inside the first three. Interestingly, three of the four winners who finished unplaced last time arrived on the back of a run in the Dubai Sheema Classic.

Most Informative Races

Coronation Cup Previous Winners

Whether they ran well or poorly, horses arriving from the Dubai Sheema Classic are well worth a second look in the market, with that Meydan event being the most common route to the race between 2000 and 2023. Newmarket’s Jockey Club Stakes, held in late April or early May, led the way among the domestic contests.

Fate of the Favourite

11 winning favourites from 24 editions represent a rock-solid strike rate of 45.83%, with the average across all races around 30%. However, with seven of the winning favourites returning an odds on SP, this still hasn’t been enough to eke out a profit; a £1 level stakes punt on the jolly over this period returned a loss of £2.77.

Overall, 22 winners returned a single-figure SP, including 15 at 4/1 or shorter. The biggest surprises came courtesy of 11/1 shots Pether’s Moon (2015) and Defoe (2019).

Other Stats

  • 23 of 24 winners had previously won over 1m4f or further. The exception, Yeats (2005), subsequently became one of the greatest stayers of all time.
  • 16 of 24 winners had previously won at Group 1 level. All 24 had at least a Group 3 win to their name.
  • 15 of 24 winners had run within the last 35 days.
  • Only six of 24 winners boasted a course win on their CV, including 2020 champ Ghaiyaath when the race took place at Newmarket.