Previews, tips and trends for major horse racing fixtures across the UK. Detailed day-by-day reports and info on horses, races, courses, events and more.

2024 Royal Ascot Betting Trends – Day Five (Sat 22nd June)

More top action in June as the horse racing bandwagon turns its attention to the 2024 Royal Ascot Meeting. The five-day meeting (Tues 18th to Sat 22nd June 2024) is always one of the highlights on the flat racing calendar.

Like all big race days, here at GEEGEEZ we've got it all covered with key trends and stats - use these trends to narrow down the field and find the best past profiles of recent winners - as the big meeting moves into day five on Saturday 22nd June 2024.

Royal Ascot Trends Day Five – Saturday 22nd June 2024

2.30 - Chesham Stakes (Listed Race) (CLASS 1) (2yo) 7f ITV

Chesham Stakes Recent Winners

2023 – Snellen (12/1)
2022 – Holloway Boy (40/1)
2021 – Point Lonsdale (10/11 fav)
2020 – Battleground (11/4 fav)
2019 – Pinatubo (3/1)
2018 – Arthur Kitt (13/2)
2017 – September (11/8 fav)
2016 – Churchill (8/11 fav)
2015 – Suits You (14/1)
2014 – Richard Pankhurst (10/1)
2013 – Berkshire (16/1)
2012 – Tha’ir (9/2)
2011 – Maybe (5/2 fav)
2010 – Zaidan (7/1)
2009 – Big Audio (22/1)
2008 – Free Agent (7/2 jfav)
2007 – Maze (11/2)
2006 – Champlain (7/2)
2005 – Championship Point (4/1)
2004 – Whazzat (7/1)
2003 – Pearl Of Love (11/10 fav)

Chesham Stakes Key Trends

20/21 – Had no more than 2 previous career runs
18/21 – Finished in the top 3 last time out
17/21 – Had just 1 previous career run
17/21 – Were foaled in March or earlier
16/21 – Ran over 6f last time out (10 won)
14/21 – Returned 7/1 or shorter in the betting
14/21 – Won their previous race
7/21 – Winning favourites (1 joint)
6/21 – Irish trained-winners (Aidan O’Brien, 4 of the last 8 winners)
2/21 – Trained by the Johnston yard
2/21 – Trained by Richard Hannon

Ryan Moore has ridden the winners in 2011, 2016, 2017, 2020 & 2021
15 of the last 18 winners came between stalls 1-8
7 of the last 18 winners came from stalls 1 (3) or 7 (4)
13 of the last 18 winners returned 10/1 or shorter
Trainer Paul Cole has won the race 4 times before

3.05 - Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2) (CLASS 1) (4yo+) 1m4f ITV

Hardwicke Stakes Recent Winners

2023 – Pyledriver (7/2)
2022 – Broome (6/1)
2021 – Wonderful Tonight (5/1)
2020 – Fanny Logan (17/2)
2019 – Defoe (11/4 fav)
2018 – Crystal Ocean (4/7 fav)
2017 – Idaho (9/2)
2016 – Dartmouth (10/1)
2015 – Snow Sky (12/1)
2014 – Telescope (7/4 fav)
2013 – Thomas Chippendale (8/1)
2012 – Sea Moon (3/1 fav)
2011 – Await the Dawn (4/6 fav)
2010 – Harbinger (8/11 fav)
2009 – Bronze Cannon (8/1)
2008 – Macarthur (11/8 fav)
2007 – Maraahel (10/3)
2006 – Maraahel (9/2)
2005 – Bandari (10/1)
2004 – Doyen (6/5 fav)
2003 – Indian Creek (14/1)

Hardwicke Stakes Key Trends

21/21 – Had won over at least 1m2f before
21/21 – Had won a Group 2 or 3 previously
18/21 – Placed last time out
18/21 – Had won over 1m4f before
15/21 – Had run at Ascot before
Michael Stoute (7)
14/21 – Returned 6/1 or shorter in the betting
13/21 – Had at least 2 previous runs that season
13/21 – Aged 4 years-old (inc 11 of last 13 winners)
13/21 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien (4), Johnston (2) or Sir
12/21 – Placed favourites
10/21 – Won their previous race
7/21 – Ran at Epsom last time out (Coronation Cup)
7/21 – Winning favourites
6/21 – Ridden by Ryan Moore

15 of the last 18 winners returned 8/1 or shorter
13 of the last 18 winners returned 6/1 or shorter
No winner from stall 1 in the last 18 runnings
8 of the last 18 winners came from stalls 2-5 (inc)
Sir Michael Stoute has trained 11 winners in total

3.45 – QEII Jubilee Stakes (Group 1) (CLASS 1) (3yo+) 6f ITV

QEII Jubilee Stakes Recent Winners

2023 – Khaadem (80/1)
2022 – Naval Crown (33/1)
2021 – Dream Of Dreams (3/1 fav)
2020 – Hello Youmzain (4/1)
2019 – Blue Point (6/4 fav)
2018 – Merchant Navy (4/1)
2017 – The Tin Man (9/2)
2016 – Twilight Son (7/2)
2015 – Undrafted (14/1)
2014 – Slade Power (7/2 fav)
2013 – Lethal Force (11/1)
2012 – Black Caviar (1/6 fav)
2011 – Society Rock (25/1)
2010 – Starspanglebanner (13/2 jfav)
2009 – Art Connoisseur (20/1)
2008 – Kingsgate Native (33/1)
2007 – Soldier’s Tale (9/1)
2006 – Les Arcs (33/1)
2005 – Cape Of Good Hope (8/1)
2004 - Fayr Jag (12/1)
2003 – Choisir (13/2)

QEII Jubilee Stakes Key Trends

19/21 – Previous distance (6f) winners
18/21 – Previous Group Race winners
16/21 – Aged 5 or younger
16/21 – Had run at Ascot before
15/21 – Failed to win their last race
14/21 – Won by a UK-based yard
10/21 – Returned a double-figure price
9/21 – Unplaced favourites
6/21 – Ran in the King’s Stand Stakes earlier at the meeting
5/21 – Winning favourite (joint)
2/21 – Trained by James Fanshawe
8 of the last 19 winners were Irish-bred
10 of the last 19 winners came from a low-figure draw
No winner from stall 1 in the last 19 runnings
8 of the last 19 winners returned a double-figure price

4.25 - Jersey Stakes (Group 3) (CLASS 1) (3yo) 7f ITV

Recent Jersey Stakes Winners

2023 – Age Of Kings (22/1)
2022 – Noble Truth (4/1 fav)
2021 – Creative Force (5/1 jfav)
2020 – Molatham (11/2)
2019 – Space Traveller (25/1)
2018 – Expert Eye (8/1)
2017 – Le Brivido (2/1 fav)
2016 – Ribchester (7/1)
2015 – Dutch Connection (14/1)
2014 – Mustajeeb (9/2 jfav)
2013 – Gale Force Ten (9/2 fav)
2012 – Ishvana (20/1)
2011 – Strong Suit (11/1)
2010 – Rainfall (8/1)
2009 – Ouqba (12/1)
2008 – Aqlaam (13/2)
2007 – Tariq (15/2)
2006 – Jeremy (9/2)
2005 – Proclamation (7/1)
2004 – Kheleyf (6/1)
2003 – Membership (20/1)
2002 -  Just James (20/1)

Jersey Stakes Trends

20/22 – Had at least 1 run already that season
18/22 – Had 4 or more career runs
13/22 – Had won over 7f before
13/22 – Had won a Listed or better class race before
11/22 – Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
10/22 – Ran at Newmarket last time out
10/22 – Had run at Ascot before
9/22 – Horses from stall 8 placed
8/22 – Unplaced favourites
8/22 – Returned a double-figure price in the betting
6/22 – Won their previous race
5/22 – Winning favourites
3/22 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien (4 wins in total)
2/22 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute (5 wins in total)
2/22 – Trainer by Charlie Appleby (2 of the last 3 runnings)

The Irish have won 4 of the last 12 runnings
The horse from stall 11 has finished 2nd in 5 of the last 16 runnings

5.05 - Wokingham Stakes (Heritage Handicap) (CLASS 2) (3yo+ 0-110) 6f ITV4

Wokingham Stakes Recent Winners

2023 – Saint Lawrence (22/1)
2022 – Rohaan (18/1)
2021 – Rohaan (8/1)
2020 – Hey Jonesy (18/1)
2019 – Cape Byron (7/2 fav)
2018 – Bacchus (33/1)
2017 – Out Do (25/1)
2016 – Outback Traveller (10/1)
2015 – Interception (10/1)
2014 – Baccarat (9/1)
2013 – York Glory (14/1)
2012 – Dandy Boy (33/1)
2011 – Deacon Blues (15/2)
2010 – Laddies Poker Two (9/2 fav)
2009 – High Standing (8/1)
2008 – Big Timer I (20/1)
2007 – Dark Missile (22/1)
2006 – Baltic King (10/1)
2005 – Iffraaj (9/4 fav)
2004 – Lafi (6/1 fav)
2003 – Ratio (14/1) / Fayr Jag (10/1)  (dead-heat)

Wokingham Stakes Key Trends

24/24 – Had won before over 6f or 7f
22/24 – Had no more than 4 runs that season­­
22/24 – Ran within the last 6 weeks
21/24 – Had won a race over 6f before
20/24 – Finished sixth or better last time out
20/24 – Aged 4 or 5 years-old
15/24 – Had at least 2 runs already that season
15/24 – Returned a double-figure price in the betting
15/24 – Had run at Ascot before (8 had won here)
12/24 – Ran at either Ascot, Goodwood or Newmarket last time
7/24 – Won their previous race
5/24 – Won by the favourite
12 of the last 18 winners carried 9-3 or less in weight
10 of the last 18 winners returned 14/1 or shorter
14 of the last 18 winners came from a double-figure draw
13 of the last 14 winners came from a double-figure stall
10 of the last 13 runnings - the top 2 finishers both came from double-figure stalls

Horse from stall 15 has been placed in 4 of the last 12 runnings
Since 1980 there have been only 9 winning favourites
Since 1980 there have been 34 winners returning a double-figure price

5.40 - Golden Gates Handicap (3yo) 1m2f ITV4

Just the 4 previous runnings
Burdett Road (20/1) won this race in 2023
Missed the Cut (5/2 fav) won this race in 2022
Foxes Tales (13/2) won this race in 2021
Highland Chief (20/1) won this race in 2020
Trainer George Boughey won this race in 2022
Trainer Andrew Balding won this race in 2021
Trainer Paul and Oliver Cole won this race in 2020
All 3 winners came between stalls 13-16 (inc)

 

6.15 - Queen Alexandra Stakes (Conditions Race) (CLASS 2) (4yo+) 2m5f159y ITV4

Queen Alexandra Stakes Recent Winners

2023 – Dawn Rising (2/1 fav)
2022 – Stratum (10/1)
2021 – Stratum (4/1)
2020 – Who Dares Wins (Evs fav)
2019 – Cleonte (7/2)
2018 – Pallasator (11/2)
2017 – Oriental Fox (10/1)
2016 – Commissioned (12/1)
2015 – Oriental Fox (4/1)
2014 – Pique Sous (11/4)
2013 – Chiberta King (8/1)
2012 – Simenon (11/4 fav)
2011 – Swingkeel (11/2)
2010 – Bergo (10/1)
2009 – Caracciola (6/1)
2008 – Honolulu (7/4 fav)
2007 – Enjoy The Moment (6/1)
2006 – Baddam (11/2)
2005 – Cruzspiel (10/1)
2004 – Corrib Eclipse (25/1)
2003 – Cover Up (4/5 fav)

Queen Alexandra Stakes Key Trends

18/21 – Finished unplaced last time out
13/21 – Had won over at least 2m on the flat before
13/21 – Had run at Ascot before
11/21 – Aged 4, 5 or 6 years old
9/21 – Won by a NH yard
8/21 – Irish-trained winners
5/21 – Winning favourites
5/21 – Ridden by Ryan Moore
4/21 – Trained by Willie Mullins
2/21 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
2/21 – Trained by the Johnston yard
2/21 – Trained by Andrew Balding
2/21 – Trained by Gordon Elliott
2/21 – Ridden by Joe Fanning

13 of the last 18 winners returned 6/1 or shorter
13 of the last 18 winners came from stalls 9-16 (inc)
12 of the last 17 winners came from a double-figure stall

 

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2024 Royal Ascot Betting Trends – Day Four (Fri 21st June)

More top action in June as the horse racing bandwagon turns its attention to the 2024 Royal Ascot Meeting. The five-day meeting (Tues 18th to Sat 22nd June 2024) is always one of the highlights on the flat racing calendar.

Like all big race days, here at GEEGEEZ we've got it all covered with key trends and stats - use these trends to narrow down the field and find the best past profiles of recent winners - as the big meeting moves into day four on Friday 21st June 2024.

 

Royal Ascot Trends Day Four – Friday 21st June 2024

2.30 - Albany Stakes (Group 3) (Fillies) (CLASS 1) (2yo) 6f ITV

Albany Stakes Past Winners

2023 – Porta Fortuna (5/1)
2022 – Meditate (5/2)
2021 – Sandrine (16/1)
2020 – Dandalla (13/2)
2019 – Daahyeh (4/1 fav)
2018 – Main Edition (7/1)
2017 – Different League (20/1)
2016 – Brave Anna (16/1)
2015 – Illuminate (4/1 fav)
2014 – Cursory Glance (14/1)
2013 – Kiyoshi (8/1)
2012 – Newfangled (7/4 fav)
2011 – Samitar (16/1)
2010 – Memory (15/2)
2009 – Habaayib (16/1)
2008 – Cuis Ghaire (8/11 fav)
2007 – Nijoom Dubai (50/1)
2006 - Sander Camillo (4/1 fav)
2005 – La Chunga (10/1)
2004 – Jewel In The Sand (10/1)
2003 – Silca’s Gift (5/1)

Albany Stakes Key Trends

22/22 – Had between 1 and 2 previous runs
22/22 – Never raced at Ascot before
21/22 – Finished in the top 3 last time out
18/22 – Won their previous race
16/22 – Won by either a Feb or Mar foal
15/22 – Placed favourites
11/22 – Previous winner over 6f
10/22 – Returned a double-figure price
6/22 – Winning favourites
5/22 – Won by trainers Channon (2) or Hannon (3)
3/22 – Ran at Sandown last time
2/22 – Trained by Roger Varian (2 of the last 10)
16 of the last 19 winners came from double-figure stalls
12 of the last 18 winners came from stalls 11-15 (inc)

3.05 - Commonwealth Cup (Group 1) (Class 1) (3yo) 6f ITV

Commonwealth Cup Recent Winners

2023 – Shaquille (9/1)
2022 – Perfect Power (7/2 jfav)
2021 – Campanelle (5/1)
2020 – Golden Horde (5/1)
2019 – Advertise (8/1)
2018 - Eqtidaar (12/1)
2017 - Caravaggio (5/6 fav)
2016 - Quiet Reflection (7/4 fav)
2015 - Muhaarar (10/1)

Commonwealth Cup Trends

9/9 – Won over 6f before
8/9 – Had run at Ascot before
7/9 – Drawn 8 or lower
7/9 – Won 3+ times before
5/9 – Ran in the last 4 weeks
4/9 – Rated 117 or higher
3/9 – Winning favourite
3/9 – Won last time out
2/9 – Came from stall 8

3.45 - Coronation Stakes (British Champions Series) (Group 1) (Fillies) (CLASS 1) (3yo) 1m ITV

Coronation Stakes Past Winners

2023 – Tahiyra (8/13 fav)
2022 – Inspiral (15/8 fav)
2021 – Alcohol Free (11/2)
2020 – Apline Star (9/2)
2019 – Watch Me (20/1)
2018 – Alpha Centauri (11/4 fav)
2017 – Winter (4/9 fav)
2016 – Qemah (6/1)
2015 – Ervedya (3/1)
2014 – Rizeena (11/2)
2013 – Sky Lantern (9/2 jfav)
2012 – Fallen For You (12/1)
2011 – Immortal Verse (8/1)
2010 – Lillie Langtry (7/2 fav)
2009 – Ghanaati (2/1 fav)
2008 – Lush Lashes (5/1)
2007 – Indian Ink (8/1)
2006 – Nannina (6/1 jfav)
2005 – Maids Causeway (9/2)
2004 – Attraction (6/4 fav)
2003 – Russian Rhythm (4/7 fav)
2002 – Sophisticat (11/2)

Coronation Stakes Recent Trends

22/22 – Had won over at least 7f before
20/22 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
17/22 – Had between 1 and 2 previous runs that season
17/22 – Had won a Group 1 or 2 previously
15/22 – Had won over at least a 1 mile before
10/22 – Ran in that season’s English 1,000 Guineas
10/22 – Winning favourites (1 joint)
9/22 – Had run at Ascot before (3 winners)
8/22 – Unplaced last time out
6/22 – Ran in that season’s Irish 1,000 Guineas
3/22 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
3/22 – Trained by John Gosden
2/22 – Trained by Jessica Harrington (2 of the last 6)

15 of the last 17 winners returned 8/1 or shorter
No winners from stall 1 in the last 18 runnings
14 of the last 18 winners came from stalls 5 or higher
10 of the last 18 winners were non UK-trained – French (4), Irish (6)

 4.25 - Duke of Edinburgh Stakes Handicap (CLASS 2) (3yo+ 0-105) 1m4f ITV

Duke of Edinburgh Stakes Past Winners

2023 – Okita Soushi (9/1)
2022 – Candleford (11/2)
2021 – Quickthorn (7/2 fav)
2020 – Scarlet Dragon (33/1)
2019 – Baghdad (7/2 fav)
2018 – Dash Of Spice (7/2 fav)
2017 – Rare Rhythm (20/1)
2016 – Kinema (8/1)
2015 – Arab Dawn (6/1 jfav)
2014 – Arab Spring (11/4 fav)
2013 – Opinion (8/1)
2012 – Camborne (11/2 fav)
2011 – Fox Hunt (12/1)
2010 – Cill Rialaig (16/1)
2009 – Drill Sergeant (14/1)
2008 – Sugar Ray (8/1)
2007 – Pevensey (8/1)
2006 – Young Mick (28/1)
2005 – Notable Guest (4/1)
2004 – Wunderwood (15/2)
2003 – Waverley (14/1)

Duke of Edinburgh Stakes Key Trends

20/21 – Aged 4 or 5 years-old
19/21 – Had won over at least 1m2f before
19/21 – Had at least 2 previous career wins to their name
17/21 – Carried 9-0 or more
15/21 – Placed last time out
14/21 – Had won over 1m4f before
13/21 – Had at least 2 previous runs that season
11/21 – Trained by Hughie Morrison (4), Johnston (3) or Sir Michael Stoute (4)
11/21 – Had run at Ascot before
8/21 – Returned a double-figure price in the betting
7/21 – Ran at either York or Epsom last time (inc 7 of last 11 winners)
7/21 – Unplaced favourites
6/21 – Ran at Newmarket last time
5/21 – Winning favourites
4/21 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
16 of the last 18 winners came from a double-figure stall

5.05 - Sandringham Handicap (Listed Race) 1m ITV

Sandringham Handicap Recent Winners

2023 – Coppice (6/1 jfav)
2022 – Heredia (7/2 fav)
2021 – Create Belief (6/1)
2020 – Onassis (33/1)
2019 – Thanks Be (33/1)
2018 – Agrotera (11/2 fav)
2017 – Con Te Partiro (20/1)
2016 – Persuasive (11/4 fav)
2015 – Osaila (13/2)
2014 – Muteela (9/2 fav)
2013 – Annecdote (11/1)
2012 – Duntle (4/1 fav)
2011 – Rhythm Of Light (8/1)
2010 – Timepiece (5/1)
2009 – Moneycantbuymelove (9/2 fav)
2008 – Festivale (10/1)
2007 – Barshiba (16/1)
2006 – Red Evie (5/1 co-fav)
2005 – Beautyandthebeast (9/2)
2004 – Celtic Heroine (11/1)
2003 – Hold To Ransom (11/1)
2002 – Tashawak (12/1)

Sandringham Handicap Trends

18/22 – Had between 2 and 4 previous runs that season
18/22 – Returned 12/1 or shorter in the betting
17/22 – Had never run at Ascot before
17/22 – Had won over at least 7f before
16/22 – Placed in their previous race
15/22 – Favourites that finished in the top 4
14/22 – Carried 8-11 or more
12/22 – Won their last race
9/22 – Returned a double-figure price
8/22 – Had exactly 3 runs already that season
8/22 – Winning favourites (1 co, 1 joint)
4/22 – Ridden by Jamie Spencer
7 of the last 10 winners came from stalls 11+
Charlie Fellowes has trained 2 of the last 5 winners
Richard Hannon has trained 2 of the last 9 winners
John Gosden has trained 2 of the last 8 winners

 

5.40 - King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2) (Colts & Geldings) (CLASS 1) (3yo) 1m4f ITV

King Edward VII Stakes Recent Winners

2023 – King Of Steel (11/10 fav)
2022 – Changingoftheguard (11/10 fav)
2021 – Alenquer (13/8 fav)
2020 – Pyledriver (18/1)
2019 – Japan (6/4 fav)
2018 – Old Persian (9/2)
2017 – Permian (6/1)
2016 – Across The Stars (7/1)
2015 – Balios (3/1)
2014 – Eagle Top (12/1)
2013 – Hillstar (15/2)
2012 – Thomas Chippendale (9/2)
2011 – Nathaniel (11/4 fav)
2010 – Monterosso (7/2)
2009 – Father Time (9/1)
2008 – Campanologist (9/1)
2007 – Boscobel (7/1)
2006 – Papal Bull (5/4 fav)
2005 – Plea Bargain (9/2)
2004 – Five Dynasties (11/4 fav)
2003 – High Accolade (5/2 fav)

King Edward VII Stakes Key Trends

20/21 – Had at least 2 previous runs that season
19/21 – Returned 9/1 or shorter in the
17/21 – Had never raced at Ascot before
15/21 – Finished in the top three last time out
15/21 – Placed favourites
13/21 - Had won at least 2 previous races during their career
12/21 – Had won over at least 1m2f before
10/21 – Had already won a Listed or better class race
8/21 – Winning favourites
3/21 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
3/21 – Trained by John Gosden
3/21 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
3/21 – Trained by the Johnston yard
Just 1 winner from stall 1 in the last 18 runnings
12 of the last 18 winners came from stalls 4-9 (inc)
15 of the last 17 winners returned 9/1 or shorter

6.15 - Palace Of Holyroodhouse Handicap (3yo) 5f ITV

Just 4 previous runnings
Rhythm N Hooves (12/1) won this race in 2023
Latin Lover (5/1) won this race in 2022
Trainer Harry Eustace won this race in 2022
Trainer Karl Burke won this race in 2021
Trainer Tim Easterby won this race in 2020
Trainer David Evans has a 50% record with his 3 year-olds at the track
Trainer Michael Dods has a 50% record with his 3 year-olds at the track

 

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Royal Ascot 2024: Day 4 (Friday) Preview, Tips

And so to the fourth and final quarter of the geegeez.co.uk daily race previews, Friday, Day 4. Two Group 1's, led out by the relatively new Commonwealth Cup and followed up with a cracking Coronation Stakes, are the features but there's plenty to go at from start to end, beginning with the...

2.30 Albany Stakes (6f, Group 3, 2yo fillies)

Presented by John Burke's "Victor Value" service

It's hard to believe we've already reached the fourth day of Royal Ascot — time certainly flies when you're having fun. This is my final day of previewing a daily race for Geegeez, and I've genuinely enjoyed it. I hope you've found my musings on the various contests both insightful and enjoyable.

On Wednesday, I tipped a 20/1 winner for Victor Value subscribers. Interestingly, if I hadn’t been previewing the juvenile races for this site, I probably wouldn’t have even looked at that race. So I owe a big thanks to Matt Bisogno for pushing me in the two-year-old direction. [You're welcome, John - just wish I'd given you the Windsor Castle for Wednesday! - Ed.]

Today, let's talk about the Albany Stakes, a prestigious Group 3. Here are some key details about the race: Run over six furlongs the Albany Stakes was inaugurated in 2002, making it one of the newer races at the Royal Ascot meeting. Initially classified at Listed level, it was promoted to Group 3 status in 2005, reflecting its growing importance and quality of participants.

Over the years, several winners of the Albany Stakes have gone on to achieve greater success in their racing careers, enhancing the race's reputation as a launchpad for future champions. For instance, the last two winners, Porta Fortuna (2023) and Meditate (2022), both went on to achieve Group 1 success. Winning or performing well in the Albany Stakes can significantly enhance the reputation and value of a filly, both in terms of racing and breeding potential.

The Albany Stakes continues to maintain its status as a key early-season race for two-year-old fillies.

Key Trends (Last 5 Years):

Last Time Out Track: Naas – 2 winners from 5 runners +40, 3 places

Last Time Out Placing: 1st - 5 winners from 86 runners, 15 places (non-winners last time are 0 from 33 runners, 4 places)

Key Contenders:

Fairy Godmother

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Fairy Godmother built on her debut promise by defeating five rivals in the Group 3 Fillies' Sprint Stakes at Naas last time. The daughter of Night Of Thunder is bred to be speedy and sets a high standard.

Heavens Gate

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Heavens Gate won a Curragh maiden over the distance 26 days ago. Like Fairy Godmother, she is open to further improvement. She has the rail draw in stall 17.

Mountain Breeze

Trainer: Charlie Appleby. Mountain Breeze looked impressive when winning at Newmarket last month. The daughter of Lope De Vega is now two from two and is poised for a big run, posing the main threat to the favourite in my view.

California Dreamer

Trainer: Adrian Murray. California Dreamer finished a length third to Fairy Godmother at Naas. This was a significant improvement from her Dundalk debut, indicating she has more to offer, although beating Fairy Godmother will be tough.

Twafeeg

Trainer: Archie Watson. Twafeeg showcased her speed by winning on debut at Doncaster 20 days ago. There is more to come from her, and an Archie Watson juvenile should never be underestimated at Royal Ascot.

Simmering

Trainer: Ollie Sangster. Simmering showed plenty of promise on her debut at York, finishing third behind Arabie, who has since won a Group 3 at Chantilly. Sent off the 3/1 favourite at York she must have been showing plenty at home. While beating top contenders like Fairy Godmother and Mountain Breeze will be tough, Simmering has room for plenty of improvement. With Jamie Spencer on board, she could get into the places.

Albany Stakes Verdict:

Fairy Godmother sets a high bar and will be tough to beat, but Mountain Breeze is also a strong contender and should provide a stern challenge. Twafeeg, coming off a recent win at Doncaster, has solid each-way claims. The most intriguing runner in the line-up is Simmering, who arguably has the most potential for improvement among the 17 fillies.

Betting Advice:

My idea of the winner is Fairy Godmother and 13/8 looks a fair price about her chance but if you’re looking for an each-way play at big odds I would consider Simmering if you can get 25/1 and four places.

Simmering: £2 each way – 25/1 @ bet365 (paying four places)

 

3.05 Commonwealth Cup (6f, Group 1, 3yo)

Preview by Matt Bisogno

Introduced in 2015, this six furlong Group 1 for three-year-olds only is a terrific addition to the Royal Ascot menu. It's been a slot where failed Classic aspirants have rediscovered their top class mojo over a more suitable trip; and where genuinely fast horses can show their (go faster) stripes. In its nine years to date, no trainer has taken the prize more than once, and no horse has returned greater than 12/1 in spite of big fields being commonplace.

Sheikh Obaid has a strong hand with, at time of writing, the first two in the betting. Inisherin was supplemented at some expense, even by a Sheikh's standard, after an easy score in the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock. He'd previously led the 2000 Guineas field to the quarter pole before the lactic acid kicked in and he checked out. Remarkably, and atypically, he'd never run shorter than a mile prior to the Haydock race. That's a bit of a question mark given it was soft ground there, and so more of an emphasis on stamina, whereas it will be fast turf here. Moreover, leading against milers who are saving something for the final two furlongs is different from trying to best the fastest and classiest speedsters of his generation. He has an obvious chance to win but looks opposable at the prices.

Arrow number two in Sheikh Obaid's quiver is Elite Status, who lived up to his name when hacking up in a Listed race over this trip at Newbury last time. Trained by Karl Burke, who has trained a Commonwealth Cup winner, he's had plenty of experience, with four wins from seven starts thus far. They include a second Listed score as well as a Group 3 but he was thumped in both the Prix Morny and Middle Park (both G1) at the end of last season. You could argue that he was over the top for them, but it is also not unreasonable to take a less charitable view of those no shows. Perhaps he's not quite at this level.

Jasour was beaten in that same brace of top level two-year-old sprints, and also bookended those heavy defeats with Pattern class wins: in his case he preceded them with a G2 victory and debuted this campaign with a G3, over course and distance in the trial race to boot. That was a notable career best and it's perfectly plausible that he's improved plenty from two to three. This, of course, will be the acid test. His trainer, Clive Cox, has, like Burke, won this race before so knows the formula.

Third to Big Evs and Valiant Force, both 2023 Royal Ascot winners, in the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, Starlust showed there that he could handle very fast ground. He was staying on over that turning five furlongs but has beaten plenty of times (eight, to be exact, from a dozen starts). Moreover, his best form is mostly at the minimum and he looks exposed in comparison with some of his rivals. That said, he does bring the highest official rating into the race, his 114 being earned with a nine pounds hike for an easy handicap verdict last time.

Givemethebeatboys was due to run in that Breeders' Cup race but was scratched by the Santa Anita vets the day before the race, a deeply frustrating experience for all involved, no doubt. Before then, he'd run creditably in the Phoenix and Middle Park Stakes, and holds Elite Status and Jasour on literal analyses of that form. He began 2024 with a Listed win at Navan before just failing to pass the intended but now absent Bucanero Fuerte in a Naas Group 3 last time. This stiff six looks ideal though he'll need to improve a good bit.

Archie Watson has an excellent record at Royal Ascot - three wins last year, just failed in the Coventry over course and distance on Tuesday - and saddles Evade, winner of the 7f Surrey Stakes last time. Trained prior to that Epsom race by Andre Fabre, he'd finished 2023 with a distant view of Rosallion's rump in the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. But it was a big step forward on Oaks day, where he was tardy from the gate but showed plenty of speed to move to the front of the field; he then battled gamely while seeming unbalanced on the camber and can arguably be marked up a touch.

Classic Flower runs for Patrice Cottier, who saddled Horizon Dore to run third in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales's Stakes on Wednesday. In the same ownership, this daughter of Calyx has been second on all three starts in '24, all on very wet turf. Her trainer must fancy her to show more on terra firmer, and she did win a Group 2 on good to soft last October. Her form is hard to peg - likely a beat below the pick of her rivals - but she is consistent, could conceivably step forward for fast turf, and her trainer is respected.

The rest of them probably have too much to find but I want to mention two highly progressive runners who wouldn't be total shock winners. Firstly, Stuart Williams trains Pandora's Gift, a filly that has raced exclusively on all-weather surfaces heretofore. Second on her debut as a 20/1 shot, she's won her other four starts, most recently when waltzing away with a Listed prize at Chelmsford. Prior to that she won in a manner rarely seen in a valuable all-weather handicap. She went up 12lb for that win and another 11lb for her Listed victory. If she can translate that level to turf, a further similar bound forward would put her bang there. If.

The twice-raced Kind Of Blue is the other worth noting. James Fanshawe has had some very good sprinters - remember The Tin Man? - and while it's very early to include this colt's name in the same sentence, he looked very good in the second of two novice stakes wins last time. That was good to firm ground on Doncaster's straight track, so no conditions fears, but this is a chasmic class rise. One to keep on side going forwards and it will be interesting, though not wager worthy, to see how he goes in this G1.

This is quite difficult. I want to be against Inisherin, whose ability to lead may be compromised against genuine top class sprinters. Obviously, I expect him to win now. Elite Status made a big jump on figures on his sole three-year-old start and may have matured into a far better model, with similar comments applying to the slightly more lightly-raced Jasour; the latter is a bigger price and appeals as a bit of value at around 6/1. And at Hail Mary prices, I want to take penny flyers on the two fillies, Classic Flower and Pandora's Gift. There are reasons to believe both could step forward a chunk on what they've achieved under these markedly different conditions and, while they might fail badly, the price justifies small interest. Two fillies have won this in its short history so there are no reservations on that score: it's 'simply' whether they'll be remotely good enough!

If I'm wrong about the Sheikh Obaid pair, so be it, but it looks a more open contest than the top two to me...

Suggestion: 80% of a unit win Jasour at 6/1, 5% e/w Classic Flower 33/1 and 5% e/w 25/1 Pandora's Gift

 

3.45 Coronation Stakes (1m, Group 1, 3yo fillies)

Preview by Rory Delargy

Donnacha O’Brien’s Porta Fortuna is arguably more exposed than a few around her in the market for the Coronation Stakes, but she is proven at the highest level and her form stacks up well given she has previous at the track and the likely fast ground suits her ideally.

Porta Fortuna was a decisive winner of the Albany Stakes here twelve months ago, where she impressed with the way she moved through the race before taking it up at the furlong pole and repelling the challenge of Matrika. She was below form on softer ground in both the Phoenix Stakes and the Moyglare Stud Stakes (5¾ lengths joint-third to subsequent Irish 1000 Guineas winner Fallen Angel) but belatedly built on her Royal Ascot win when clocking a smart time in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket at the end of September, beating Rubies And Pearls by a length and a half on ground Timeform called good to firm.

She then ran a screamer in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf on her first try at a mile, and again shaped really well after an absence when second in the 1000 Guineas on good ground. She was forced to go earlier than ideal there in pursuit of Ramatuelle, and that pair gave Guineas winner Elmalka a target to aim at, with the margin between the trio at the line very small. The closing sectional suggesting that the winner was favoured by making her move latest of all.

The pair she split are both respected but I’m more than happy to continue to support Porta Fortuna, who has more than once shown herself to be very game under pressure. The fact that she is proven on track and ground is a big positive and the turning mile should suit better than the straight one at Newmarket given her tactical speed.

Ramatuelle could be considered an unlucky loser at Newmarket with plenty blaming Aurelien Lemaitre for kicking too soon but, while Lemaitre has made a couple of high-profile errors, I thought he gave the Justify filly an excellent ride, maximising her superior speed at a crucial part of the race and almost stealing it as a result. My view is that she barely stays 7f and that she will be vulnerable here where she has a draw in stall one which means she must either be ridden aggressively to get track position, or hope that others give her room which is far from certain.

Elmalka is unexposed and will be fancied by many to progress again, but we saw Notable Speech fail to match his 2000 Guineas effort in the St James’s Palace earlier in the week, and Ascot does present challenges of its own. As mentioned, I thought that while the ground she made up late looked remarkable she happened to be in the right part of the track the way that race unfolded, and I’m not sold on her superiority on the day.

Recommended: 1pt e/w Porta Fortuna @ 7/1 (general)

 

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4.25 Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes (1m4f, Class 2 handicap, 3yo+)

Presented by Sam Darby's "Winning Post Profits" service

This is probably my favourite race of the week and one of the best course and distances to have a bet on in big fields. That’s because there is a strong draw bias that is largely overlooked in the betting.

 

 

The line graph above shows the PRB3 performance by draw. It’s quite clear that the bottom eight or so stalls perform far worse than any higher stall and this trend is repeated with the win and place data too. The lowest seven stalls have won four handicaps on good or better ground whilst the next eleven stalls have won twenty times in the same time period.

The heat map shows draw and pace in combination and this is even more enlightening. There seems to be a fairly significant advantage in racing prominently or in mid-division from middle to high draws. Those run styles/draw combinations have accounted for 14 of the last 20 handicap winners in these conditions.

The only other ‘positive’ draw and run style combination is leaders from middle draws. The worst performing combinations are high drawn front runners and low drawn hold up performers.

It’s relatively easy to explain this draw bias. Big field mile and a half handicaps here can be really rough races where those on the rail often don’t get anything resembling a clear run. They don’t get long to sort themselves out in the straight so the horses that are a bit handier, and on the outside, are well positioned in relation to the lead and are pretty much guaranteed a clear run.

Fortunately, the one I’ve liked for this since the declarations first came out is a prominent racer and drawn high, which should see him to maximum effect. For quick reference, you can use the Geegeez Gold pace map below to see which horses fall into the likely advantaged category here.

 

 

On Tuesday I was strongly against Belloccio in the Copper Horse Stakes because Willie Mullins needed to suddenly improve the horse by 10lbs+ on turf for him to figure. Mullins worked his magic and the horse won well. My gripe with the Mullins horses is we know from previous experience that they are very likely to win or run well. At the same time, they often come here unproven over the trips at which they are running, unproven on the ground and their handicap marks are usually complete guesswork. That’s not the case with Ethical Diamond who ticks all those boxes and also even boasts some of my beloved ‘hot form’.

As a 3yo, before moving to Mullins’ yard he improved for the step up in trip from 10f to 12f, when beating a subsequently 94-rated runner up by 2 lengths giving her 5lbs. That run alone makes him look well treated as he is also rated 94 now himself.

He didn’t really fire over hurdles for Mullins but the ground was testing on all three occasions and he was very highly tried. The return to the flat in May did the trick, though, as he was beaten just a short head over 10f at Leopardstown. The winner has since won a handicap off an 8lb higher mark (admittedly over further) whilst the 3rd has since won a 19-runner handicap (admittedly over shorter).

Ethical Diamond has unfortunately gone up 5lbs for that effort but the form looks strong and he’s almost certain to improve for the step back up to 12f here. He likes to race prominently and is drawn in stall 18 (will probably be 16 by the time the reserves come out) so the only thing not to get excited about is the price. He’s around 5/2 at the time of writing and although that might seem short in a big field handicap, it looks pretty fair given how lightly raced he is and the scope there is for more to come stepping back up in trip.

If the race doesn’t go to Willie Mullins, it still looks more than likely it will go back to Ireland as they have a strong grip on this. Crystal Black is a very progressive rival, winning four of his last five starts. He’s been winning over a mile and also 10f and having that mile pace suggests he might not see out this trip. He’s also drawn in stall 4 which is another reason I'm happy to take him on.

Deakin represents last year’s winning trainer, Joseph O'Brien, and he was a neck behind Crystal Black over 10f last time out. Unlike Crystal Black, he’s very much proven over this trip and should have a good chance of reversing that form here considering the extra trip and also the fact he’s drawn in stall 21 (will be 18 after the reserves come out). He’s unproven on fast ground but has coped fine with good and looks a likely player.

Behind Crystal Black and Deakin last time out was Safecracker and he looks overpriced at 16/1 or so. He’s proven over this longer trip and, crucially, is also proven on fast ground. His run style isn’t ideal for the round course but I wouldn’t be surprised if he too reverses form with Crystal Black.

The home challenge is headed by Shadow Dance, a Roger Varian-trained 4yo who hasn’t run since finishing runner up in the Old Rowley Cup in October, traditionally one of the stronger 3yo races of the season (last year’s renewal has produced future winners yet again). Varian’s horses have generally been running to form first time out this season and Perotto had the same prep before finishing 3rd in Wednesday’s Royal Hunt Cup. He’s likely to be seen to best effect over further in future and I think he might end up poorly positioned so I’d be slightly again him here, but I fancy his chances of winning a decent 14f handicap before long.

La Yakel also reappears here after a break and, given he’s generally looked better over shorter and on softer turf, he is opposable from stall 1. Fairbanks and Sea King are both progressive and in form but stalls 2 and 6 could be a disadvantage for that pair. In any case, Fairbanks probably showed the handicapper too much when winning comfortably on his penultimate start, and Sea King might be better in smaller fields and when fresh.

Bague D’Or was one I liked for the Copper Horse earlier in the week but the main angle with him is his record over 14f on fast ground. Back in trip, I’m far less keen on him.

In summary, I think there is a good chance we see an Irish one-two in this year's Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes. I’m pretty keen on Ethical Diamond and I’m not put off by his price. Deakin is my clear next best and I might even have a little go on the forecast/exacta. I can see Shadow Dance and Safecracker finishing well from off the pace but they might be at a tactical disadvantage.

 

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5.05 Sandringham Stakes (1m, Class 2 handicap, 3yo fillies)

Presented by Josh Wright from "Racing To Profit"

These Royal Ascot handicaps do not get any easier and unfortunately for me it is not the strongest of trends races, not against the sort of pointers I use anyway.

However, it should be noted that the market has been some sort of guide with 13 of the 16 winners sent off 11/1 or shorter ISP, those sent off bigger, 3/251, 25p. Having said that, between 2017-2020, three of the four races were won by 20/1+ shots, two trained by Charlie Fellowes, who isn’t represented this year. Over the last three renewals, those sent off 12/1+ are now 0/65, 6p. It would make all our jobs a little easier if the market continued to be some sort of guide, even though I do like the odd big priced-poke in such races.

Ignoring the market for the moment, there are a couple of pointers which can help. Horses that had two or three runs in the previous 90 days, who’d won or placed at least once on their last two starts and who’d run at Class 3+ at least once in their career, would have found 13/15 of the UK/Irish trained winners (Wesley Ward winning this in 2017, not included in these stats).

If that profile was to hold we'd be left with a long list of 12, but without any pointers to narrow it further other than hoping the market is once again a guide. Those twelve are:

Everlasting, Zaynab, Flight of Fancy, Fair Angellica, Battle Queen, Cat Ninja, Asian Daze, Arisaig, Soprano, Marcella, My Margie, Raknah

Looking at horses representing trainers who have won this race previously can also be useful.

- John & Thady Gosden: Cat Ninja, Mrs Morrell, D Fawless, Strutting
- Charlie (and Mark) Johnston: Arisaig
- Johnny Murtagh: Asian Daze

Cat Ninja, Asian Daze, and Arisaig are the three horses to hit my trends profile and which represent yards who know how to win this race.

I'm going for two each-way bets from the trends list, with as many places as you can find, and hope that once again it's the turn of an outsider to take this race.

Arisaig - 25/1 - EW - Charlie Johnston's filly has been in decent form, and his dad knew what was required to win the Sandringham so hopefully that's rubbed off. Arisaig appeared to appreciate more patient tactics when last seen, having been ridden very aggressively at Newmarket the time before, but still running with credit. She showed an impressive change of gear at Lingfield and won like a horse on the upgrade. It was a performance to think that a fast run mile on this straight course with plenty of cover up the middle could be just what she wants. I always like the booking of Jamie Spencer on this track, where you can almost back him blind each way at the Royal Meeting for interest stakes; and he got the job done again yesterday with a 16/1 > 5/1 SP winner. He booted home 90/1 and 140/1 BFSP winners last year. Spencer will switch Arisaig off, get her in a rhythm and allow her to finish her race - I'd like to think that may be good enough to run into the places here, and who knows after that? Evidently she needs to step up again, but she's going the right way and her relative experience could be worth plenty here.

Soprano - 25/1 - EW - George Boughey's filly has been highly tried in her career to date - straight into Group 3s and Listed contests after her Newmarket maiden win - and this is her handicap debut having finished her juvenile season 'winning' her side in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes. She's been running with credit, but often running on in small fields with the leaders having set sail for home. It's her first attempt at a mile, and trying such a trip here is never ideal, but that's built into the price and is arguably a reason for a jolt of improvement. Like Arisaig, she may relish this strong pace, being covered up and running through tiring horses. She's related to a few milers on her dam side, so fingers crossed she appreciates the extra distance. Billy Loughnane was on the scoresheet on Day 1 and I'm hoping he'll be patient and try and thread his way through. The yard is in fine form also. Soprano has a touch of class and if seeing out the trip can hopefully grab a place at worst. As always, if you can grab a place, you can win, so fingers crossed.

Predicting any draw bias on this straight track appears impossible and so far this week it appears to have been riding fairly, more a case of where the sustained pace comes from. These two will have the option of staying up the middle, though Jamie could go low if he wishes and Billy could go high if wanted, so all bases covered there.

It could be the market has this right again, Indelible stepping out of maiden/novice company, but she does look very short to my eyes. Ralph Beckett is 0/10, 0p in the race also, which wouldn't fill me with confidence if wading in, but maybe she's just a cut above these - the market suggests so and given how good Ralph is generally, and especially with fillies, he will surely win this at some point.

I could name ten more horses and get nowhere near the winner, it's that sort of contest! However, Arisaig and Soprano are two lively outsiders who look overpriced to my eyes. Some bookies are paying as far down as eight places, which could help! Good luck with any bets.

 

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5.40 King Edward VII Stakes (1m4f, Group 2, 3yo colts & geldings)

Presented by Gavin Priestley's "Festival Trends" service

For the purposes of the trends we'll overlook the result from 2020 because, due to Covid, the Derby was actually run after Royal Ascot that year.

Traditionally sandwiched in the middle of the Epsom and Irish Derby's the 'Ascot Derby' is a pale shadow of either of those Group 1's, and the Epsom winner hasn't shown up here in a very long time although the Derby second did run, and win, last year. In fact, five of the last seven winners had their last start at Epsom where they had finished 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 10th (twice).

This year we have just two Derby runners taking part: Voyage, who was actually first past the post at Epsom but did so without a jockey having stumbled and unseated Pat Dobbs shortly after leaving the starting stalls, and Macduff who was quietly fancied for the race but pulled too hard and never got himself into a challenging position.

So, as is usual for the King Edward VII we have a field made up of a couple of also rans from Epsom, a few that missed it for one reason or another, a number of lesser lights from the O'Brien stable, a couple of winners stepping up from novice company and a few trainers tilting at windmills hoping to pick up some black type and place money. We do also have a couple of French raiders to spice things up this year, however, including the 5th from the Prix du Jockey Club.

The trends say we need a run as a 2yo, 1-3 seasonal runs, 2-7 career starts and the most recent within the last 12-56 days in a class 1-3 race where they finished in the first four (unless it was the Derby). All of the last nine winners were rated 103+ and, interestingly, 13 of the last 17 winners had yet to win a Group race. It also hasn't paid to get too fancy odds wise recently with four of the last five favourites winning and eight of the last nine winners returning 7/1 or shorter.

We can knock a few out on the trends for one reason or another but there are still plenty of the field that seem to tick all the boxes so I'm simply going to go with that recent trend regarding the Epsom runners and side with the horse that was down the field in the Derby.

MACDUFF did well as a 2yo and rounded off his season with a 4th in the Royal Lodge before shaping with promise in the Classic Trial at Sandown on his seasonal debut. He was a staying on second there behind Arabian Crown and, on the back of that run, he was nibbled at ante post at big prices for the Derby and was eventually sent off at 14/1. Taking a keen hold he never really got going and raced in rear throughout to come home a disappointing 13th of the 16 runners. Ralph Beckett now reaches for the first time cheekpieces in the hope they'll help settle him (Macduff not Beckett!) and I'm willing to give him another chance based on his earlier form. He wouldn't be the first horse to fail to handle Epsom before winning here, and he does seem a big price on what he had achieved before Derby day.

SELECTION: MACDUFF 1/2pt EW 25/1

 

6.15 Palace Of Holyroodhouse Stakes (5f, Class 2 handicap, 3yo)

Preview by David Massey

Pace. It’s important. We’re always told “pace yourself”, whether that’s life in general, or you’re on a three-day bender over a bank holiday weekend. (Please drink responsibly.) Without a certain amount of pace, we’d never get to where we want to go. And if it’s over five furlongs at Royal Ascot, you arguably need a bucketful of it, and that’s what this field has. And in spades, too. Buckets and spades...

Wherever you look here, there’s pace: seven of the nine runners drawn in single figures have led at some point in their last three runs, four from the middle and five from those drawn 20 and above. That’s pretty much half the field that like a view of the front, and unless one of them is an Art Power in disguise - remember him back in 2020, they came here instead of the Commonwealth Cup and he absolutely took them apart with a devastating display of front-running - I cannot help but think this will suit something that can travel in midfield and come through late to win it.

Step forward Blue Storm, who has already taken one big handicap this season after winning the 3yo Dash at Epsom last time out, reversing form with three of those that had finished in front of him at Chester on his seasonal reappearance the time before. He was nicely on top at Epsom late, and this stiffer track should suit even better. A 6lb rise for that is fair, he’s now proven himself in a full field, he’ll travel well in centre pack and has the strength late to play a part. He ticks a lot of boxes for a 14-1 chance, for me, and heads up my list.

Fantasy Master hit the frame in this back in 2021 for Mick Appleby and his Shagraan has a similar sort of profile. You’d be hard pressed to say he was unlucky against Equity Law at Sandown two starts back but I was impressed with the way he travelled there and, once he did find the gaps, he stayed on well for second. I thought at the time this might be the race for him after that effort. He did nothing to dissuade me when third to James’s Delight at Newmarket last time, form that’s already working out, and I think he can reverse placings with second home Two Tribes if given a more patient ride today. Mick seems to have rejuvenated the horse after he left Clive Cox, and I suspect he’s had this race in mind for some time. Stall 19 gives him options, too.

Speaking of Clive Cox, his Symbology is worth a mention at a huge price as well. The negatives aren’t hard to find - she’s not shown much in two starts this year, although in her defence, she’d probably have needed her first start of the year in the Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury after nine months away from the track, and then she got no cover at the weekend when well held in the Scurry Stakes. So, yes, you have to be forgiving, but here’s the figures bit - Clive Cox, when running his handicappers within seven days of their last run, is 9-46, which is pretty good on its own, but even better when the expected winners was just over six.

There’s a lot to take on trust and ideally I’d have preferred another furlong, but at 66-1 we don’t have to pay a lot to find out whether she can bounce back to form on a track for which she’s already shown a liking. (In fact, she’s the only horse in the whole field to have finished in the frame at Ascot previously. Another little plus…)

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And that, dear reader, is that. 28 races covered by seven writers, six of them guests, across four days; and a great smattering of winners already in their midst. Thank you for making geegeez.co.uk a part of your Royal Ascot 2024 experience and, if you like what we do and are not yet a member of our multi-award winning Gold racecards and form tools service, you can take it for a spin for as little as £1 at this link.

Thanks again, and be lucky.
Matt

p.s. What did you think of the previews this week? Did you enjoy them? And what was your personal highlight of the week so far? Please leave a comment below and let us know



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2024 Royal Ascot Betting Trends – Day Three (Thurs 20th June)

More top action in June as the horse racing bandwagon turns its attention to the 2024 Royal Ascot Meeting. The five-day meeting (Tues 18th to Sat 22nd June 2024) is always one of the highlights on the flat racing calendar.

Like all big race days, here at GEEGEEZ we've got it all covered with key trends and stats - use these trends to narrow down the field and find the best past profiles of recent winners - as the big meeting moves into day three on Thursday 20th June 2024.

Royal Ascot Trends Day Three – Thursday 20th June 2024

 

2.30 - Norfolk Stakes (Group 2) (CLASS 1) (2yo) 5f ITV

Norfolk Stakes Recent Winners

2023 – Valiant Force (150/1)
2022 - The Ridler (50/1)
2021 – Perfect Power (14/1)
2020 – The Lir Jet (9/2)
2019 – A’Ali (5/1)
2018 – Shang Shang Shang (5/1)
2017 – Sioux Nation (14/1)
2016 – Prince Of Lir (8/1)
2015 – Waterloo Bridge (12/1)
2014 – Baitha Alga (8/1)
2013 – No Nay Never (4/1)
2012 – Reckless Abandon (4/1)
2011 – Bapak Chinta (6/1)
2010 – Approve (16/1)
2009 – Radiohead (10/1)
2008 – South Central (11/4 fav)
2007 – Winker Watson (2/1 fav)
2006 – Dutch Art (11/4)
2005 – Masta Plasta (7/2)
2004 – Blue Dakota (5/4 fav)
2003 – Russian Valour (4/1)

Norfolk Stakes Trends

21/21 – Had at least 1 previous run
19/21 – Previous winners over 5f
19/21 – Had never raced at Ascot before
18/21 – Had a RPR of 105+
16/21 – Won their previous race
14/21 – Foaled in March or April
12/21 – Favourites placed
11/21 – Returned 6/1 or shorter in the betting
8/21 – Returned a double-figure (or triple) price
3/21 – Winning favourites
3/21 – Ran at Windsor last time out
2/21 – Trained by Wesley Ward
2/21 – Ridden by Ryan Moore

Aidan O’Brien has trained 2 of the last 9 winners
Richard Fahey have won 2 of the last 3 runnings
11 of the last 18 winners came from stalls 7-12 (inc)

3.05 - King George V Stakes (Handicap) (CLASS 2) (3yo 0-105) 1m4f ITV

King George V Stakes Recent Winners

2023 – Desert Hero (18/1)
2022 – Secret State (4/1 jfav)
2021 – Surefire (5/1)
2020 – Hukum (12/1)
2019 – South Pacific (22/1)
2018 – Baghdad (9/1)
2017 – Atty Persse (7/1)
2016 - Primitivo (13/2)
2015 – Space Age (9/1)
2014 – Elite Army (4/1 jfav)
2013 – Elidor (20/1)
2012 – Fennell Bay (12/1)
2011 – Brown Panther (4/1 jfav)
2010 – Dandino (7/1)
2009 – Cosmic Sun (66/1)
2008 – Colony (11/2 fav)
2007 – Heron Bay (20/1)
2006 – Linas Selection (9/2)
2005 – Munsef (14/1)
2004 – Admiral (9/1)
2003 – Fantastic Love (10/1)

King George V Stakes Trends

20/21 – Never raced at Ascot before
19/21 – Had at least 2 previous runs that same season
19/21 – Had between 2 and 4 previous runs that season
19/21 – Placed last time out
17/21 – Carried 8-13 or less
14/21 – Had won over at least 1m2f previously
12/21 – Returned 9/1 or bigger in the betting
11/21 – Favourites placed
11/21 – Won their previous race
6/21 – Won by trainers Sir Michael Stoute (2) or the Johnston camp (4)
4/21 – Ran at Haydock last time out
4/21 – Winning favourites (2 joint)
3/21 – Godolphin-owned (Charlie Appleby has trained 2 of the last 9)

11 of the last 18 winners came between stalls 10-20 (inc)
8 of the last 18 winners came between stalls 10-16 (inc)

 

3.45 - Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies) (CLASS 1) (3yo) 1m4f ITV

Ribblesdale Stakes Recent Winners

2023 – Warm Heart (13/2)
2022 – Magical Lagoon (11/4)
2021 – Loving Dream (18/1)
2020 – Frankly Darling (11/8 fav)
2019 – Star Catcher (4/1)
2018 – Magic Wand (10/3)
2017 – Coronet (9/1)
2016 – Even Song (15/8 fav)
2015 – Curvy (9/2)
2014 – Bracelet (10/1)
2013 – Riposte (9/2)
2012 – Princess Highway (17/2)
2011 – Banimpire (3/1 fav)
2010 – Hibaayeb (4/1 jfav)
2009 – Flying Cloud (5/1)
2008 – Michita (10/3 fav)
2007 – Silkwood (4/1)
2006 – Mont Etoile (25/1)
2005 – Thakafaat (22/1)
2004 – Punctilious (9/2)
2003 – Spanish Sun (9/2)

Ribblesdale Stakes Trends

18/21 – Had never raced at Ascot before
17/21 – Had at least 2 previous races that season
16/21 – Placed in their previous race
15/21 – Had won over 1m2f or further before
14/21 – Returned 5/1 or shorter in the betting
14/21 – Placed favourites
11/21 – Had exactly 2 previous runs that season
8/21 – Won their last race
8/21 – Irish-trained winners (7 of last 12)
5/21 – Winning favourites
4/21 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien (4 of last 10)
4/21 - Trained by John Gosden (5 wins in total)
4/21 – Ridden by Ryan Moore
3/21 – Trained by Saeed Bin Suroor (5 in total)
3/21 – Won by a Godolphin-owned horse

Just two winners from stall 1 in the last 18 runnings
9 of the last 18 winners came between stalls 3-6 (inc)

4.25 - Ascot Gold Cup (Group 1) (CLASS 1) (4yo+) 2m4f ITV

Recent Ascot Gold Cup Winners

2023 – Courage Mon Ami (15/2)
2022 – Kyprios (13/8 fav)
2021 – Subjectivist (13/2)
2020 – Stradivarius (4/5 fav)
2019 – Stradivarius (Evs fav)
2018 – Stradivarius (7/4 jfav)
2017 – Big Orange (5/1)
2016 – Order Of St George (10/11 fav)
2015 – Trip To Paris (12/1)
2014 – Leading Light (10/11 fav)
2013 – Estimate (7/2 fav)
2012 – Colour Vision (6/1)
2011 – Fame And Glory (11/8 fav)
2010 – Rite of Passage (20/1)
2009 – Yeats (6/4 fav)
2008 – Yeats (11/8 fav)
2007 – Yeats (8/13 fav)
2006 – Yeats (7/1)
2005 – Westerner (7/4 fav)
2004 – Papineau (5/1)
2003 – Mr Dinos (3/1)
2002 – Royal Rebel (16/1)

Ascot Gold Cup Trends

20/22 – Had no more than 2 previous runs that season
20/22 – Aged 6 or younger
19/22 – Had between 1-2 previous runs that season
17/22 – Had won over at least 2 miles on the flat before
17/22 – Favourites that were placed
17/22 – Won their last race
14/22 – Previous Group 1 winners
12/22 – Won by the favourite
11/22 – Aged 4 years-old (9 of the last 12)
9/22 – Irish-trained winners
8/22 – Won by trainer Aidan O’Brien
5/22 – Ran at Sandown last time out (Henry II Stakes)
3/22 – Ridden by Ryan Moore (3 of the last 11)

15 of the last 18 winners returned 7/1 or shorter in the betting
11 of the last 18 winners returned 7/2 or shorter in the betting
10 of the last 18 winners came from stalls 1-5 (inc) (6 of the last 7 winners came from stalls 7 or lower)
Godolphin won the race in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2004 & 2012
Aidan O’Brien has trained the winner in 2022, 2016, 2014, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006
John Gosden has trained the winner in 2018, 2019 and 2020
Since 1949 there have been 15 multiple winners of the race

 

5.05 - Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap) (Colts & Geldings) (CLASS 2) (3yo 0-105) 1m ITV4

Britannia Stakes Recent Winners

2023 – Docklands (6/1 fav)
2022 – Thesis (14/1)
2021 – Perotto (18/1)
2020 – Khaloosy (9/2)
2019 – Biometric (28/1)
2018 – Ostillo (10/1)
2017 – Bless Him (25/1)
2016 – Defrocked (13/2)
2015 – War Envoy (10/1)
2014 – Born In China (14/1)
2013 – Beauty Flame (20/1)
2012 – Fast Or Free (6/1 fav)
2011 – Sagramor (8/1)
2010 – Ransom Note (9/1)
2009 – Fareer (20/1)
2008 – Fifteen Love (28/1)
2007 – Eddie Jock (33/1)
2006 – Sir Gerard (9/2 fav)
2005 – Mostashaar (10/3 fav)
2004 – Mandobi (8/1)
2003 – New Seeker (16/1)

Britannia Stakes Trends

19/21 – Had no more than 3 previous runs that season
17/21 – Had won a race over 7f or 1m before
17/21 – Placed last time out
14/21 – Failed to win their previous race
14/21 – Carried 8-13 or less
13/21 – Had never run at Ascot before
13/21 – Returned a double-figure price
11/21 – Unplaced favourites
8/21 – Had exactly 2 previous runs that season
8/21 – Had only won over 7f previously
4/21 – Ridden by Jamie Spencer
4/21 – Winning favourites
3/21 – Ran at Haydock last time out
3/21 – Ridden by Ryan Moore

Just one top three finish horse from stall 1 in the last 18 runnings
14 of the last 18 winners came from a double-figure stall (2 of the last 4 winners from stall 19)

 

5.40 - Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3) (CLASS 1) (3yo) 1m2f ITV4

Hampton Court Stakes Recent Winners

2023 – Waipiro (7/1)
2022  - Claymore (7/1)
2021 – Mohaafeth (11/8 fav)
2020 – Russian Emperor (10/3)
2019 – Sangarius (13/2)
2018 – Hunting Horn (5/1)
2017 – Benbatl (9/2)
2016 – Hawkbill (11/2)
2015 – Time Test (15/8 fav)
2014 – Cannock Chase (7/4 fav)
2013 – Remote (9/4 fav)
2012 – Energizer (15/2)
2011 – Pisco Sour (20/1)
2010 – Afsare (9/4 fav)
2009 – Glass Harmonium (8/1)
2008 – Collection (13/2)
2007 – Zaham (7/2 fav)
2006 – Snoqualmie Boy (33/1)
2005 – Indigo Cat (3/1 fav)
2004 – Moscow Ballet (8/1)
2003 – Persian Majesty (8/1)

Hampton Court Stakes Trends

20/21 – Had not raced at Ascot before
18/21 – Had at least 2 previous runs that season
18/21 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
14/21 – Had either 2 or 3 previous runs that season
12/21 – Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
12/21 – Had won over 1m2f before
9/21 – Unplaced favourites
7/21 – Winning favourites
5/21 - Ran at Epsom last time out
4/21 – Won by trainer Aidan O’Brien
4/21 – Ridden by Ryan Moore
3/21 – Won by trainer Sir Michael Stoute

No winner from stall 1 in the last 18 runnings
14 of the last 18 winners came from stalls 5 or higher
11 of the last 17 winners came from stall 5-9 (inc)

6.15 - Buckingham Palace Handicap (3yo+) 7f ITV4

Buckingham Palace Handicap Trends

9/9 – Returned 12/1 or bigger in the betting
9/9 – Unplaced favourites
8/9 – Had run in the last 6 weeks
8/9 – Had won over at least 6f before
7/9 – Had run at Ascot before
7/9 – Carried 9-4 or less in weight
7/9 – Rated between 92-98
7/9 – Drawn in a double-figure stall
6/9 – Had 5+ wins before
4/9 – Bred in Ireland
4/9 – Aged 5 or 6 years-old
3/9 – Ridden by Neil Callan
2/9 – Trained by Richard Hannon (2 of the last 4)
2/9 – Came from stall 29
2/9 – Ran at Ascot last time out
0/9 – Winning favourites

2023: Witch Hunter (50/1), Richard Hannon, Jamie Spencer

 

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Royal Ascot 2024: Day 3 (Thursday) Preview, Tips

Eyes down look in for another full house: seven more devilishly difficult punting puzzles. And, as is the usual way of it during Royal Ascot, it's quality from top to bottom. The feature race of the day is the historic pinnacle of the whole week, the Gold Cup, a Group 1 contested over two and a half miles. Kyprios is a very warm order in his bid to regain a crown he was unable to defend last year. Before that, though, it's the flying juvies in the...

2.30 Norfolk Stakes (5f, Group 2, 2yo)

Presented by John Burke's "Victor Value" service

I’m writing this preview having just watched Electrolyte, my pick in the Coventry Stakes on Tuesday go agonisingly close at 40/1 SP. On we go...

The Group 2 Norfolk Stakes kicks off Day 3. It’s one of the highlights of the juvenile races at Royal Ascot, specifically showcasing two-year-old sprinters. Originally known as the New Stakes, it has a rich history dating back to 1843. It was renamed in honour of the Duke of Norfolk in 1973. The race has been a stepping stone for many future stars in the sprinting world. Trainers, such as Richard Fahey, Aidan O’Brien and Wesley Ward have had notable success in the race in the past decade.

Horses that have demonstrated early speed and can break well from the gates are often at an advantage in this fast 5-furlong dash.

The race is a 'Win and You're In' race for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.

Key Contenders:

Thirteen colts and geldings and one filly have been declared for this year’s renewal. We have a short- priced favourite in Whistlejacket. The Aidan O’Brien trained colt is a full brother to Little Big Bear who won the Windsor Castle Stakes for Aidan in 2022. Whistlejacket built on a promising racecourse debut when making all to win a Listed race (5f) at the Curragh. He finished 3¾ lengths in front of Arizona Blaze who has since gone onto win a Group 3 (6f), also at the Curragh. It’s hard to see Arizona Blaze reversing places with Whistlejacket.

Big spending Wathnan Racing have a couple of contenders in Shareholder and Aesterius. Shareholder, the choice of retained jockey James Doyle, looked a very well developed juvenile when overcoming greenness to win the Two Year Old Trophy at Beverley 12 days ago. He’s capable of better and should be in the mix. Aesterius knew his job when winning at Bath on his racecourse debut last month: despite being up with the pace all the way the colt was still strong at the finish. He looked a good prospect in victory and can improve further. Trainer Archie Watson went so close in the Coventry Stakes and Aesterius can do the same for him here.

Moving Force battled on well but was just touched off by Shareholder at Beverley. He was trying to give the winner 7lb so it was a good effort, and he can progress again. Trainer Richard Fahey saddled the winner in 2021 & 2022.

Saturday Flirt, trained by Wesley Ward, is the only filly in the line-up. The daughter of Mendelssohn came from off the pace to win at Keeneland (5½ f) on debut in April. She now runs in the colours of Mrs Fitri Hay and must be respected.

Tropical Storm left behind his debut effort when a much improved neck 2nd of 7 to The Actor at Newbury last month. He’ll need to step up again to win his but could well do so.

Norfolk Stakes Verdict:

It’s possible that Whistlejacket will prove much too good for his rivals. However, he’s plenty short enough for me and I prefer the claims of Aesterius, who is a standout 14/1 with Bet365 / William Hill and worth taking each-way.

Betting Advice:
Aesterius £4 each way – 14/1 @ Bet365.

 

 

3.05 King George V Stakes (1m4f, Class 2 handicap, 3yo)

Presented by Josh Wright from "Racing To Profit"

I’d be lost without my own trends and stats for these ‘festival’ handicaps and, having already served me well in this year’s Ascot Stakes with a 20/1 winner, hopefully they can help us out here. That’s even more true with a 3YO only handicap where the majority of runners seemingly arrive in decent form and are open to improvement. Let’s dive in…

16/16 were rated OR 95 or lower (0/38, 10p rated higher, small numbers and the placed horses suggest that may fall sooner rather than later, only three runners this year OR96+)

14/14 (of those with a career win) had won at Class 4 level or higher

14/14 (of those with a career win) had won at least once on their last two starts

Applying those pointers would leave us a short list of six…

Going The Distance, Fouroneohfever, Gallantly, City Burglar, Warda Jamila and Naval Force

I should add two further horses, both rated 95 or lower, who’ve yet to win in their career in the UK/Ireland, (my trends ignore form from other racing jurisdictions) … French Duke and Autumn Winter.

I will add one other stat, mainly as it’s a potential negative for City Burglar, but those drawn in stalls 1 or 2 in the period are now 0/30, 3p. I suspect said horses either use up too much gas trying to get a prominent position early, or end up behind a wall of horses as the race hots up. It’s sure to be broken one of these years, though, and not many fancied horses have had a go.

Now we just need to hope the trends profile holds, as that makes our job easier, with eight horses to focus on instead of twenty. Still, assuming the winner is in those eight, landing on the right one is still a challenge!

Where possible I don’t like applying too many trends to form a shortlist but with 15/16 winners being colts, if upholding that would leave Fouroneohfever, Gallantly and City Burglar, and the two who’ve yet to win a race… French Duke and Autumn Winter. All of those finished in the top three last time out which has been a big positive also.

The trainers…

Given racehorse trainers would tend to be creatures of habit, it can pay to focus on those handlers who have previously won said race, as they know the type required to get the job done and this may well have been the target.

The trainers who have won this race in the previous sixteen renewals, are represented by…
- Aidan O’Brien: Chantilly, Gallantly, Gasper De Lemos, Autumn Winter
- Ralph Beckett: Going The Distance, Poniros, City Burglar
- William Haggas: Glided Warrior

Cross-referencing the stats and the trainers gives… Going The Distance, City Burglar, Autumn Winter and Gallantly

For those of you who enjoy solving the puzzle hopefully the above may help.

So, where have my darts landed?

Looking at this race a couple of things strike me: firstly, no horse has yet won on officially Good to Firm ground and only City Burglar has even placed on such a surface, all bar three horses have yet to encounter fast ground – some of these are going to improve for conditions, and that could be a reason for something in here taking a massive step forward, notwithstanding this may be the most frantic gallop most of these have ever experienced.

The Geegeez Pace map suggests this could be frantically run with a few who like to lead and many who like to race prominently and push the pace. We’ll see how it transpires but this may go to a jockey who engages their brain and sits off the early fractions…

French Duke – 9/1 - the first of the two who are yet to win a race, but in this race that sort is 2/8, 3p +185 BFSP, so it’s certainly been no hindrance, and this son of Sea The Stars did all but win when last seen. He’s one of the few in here who could drop in, he’ll need some luck, but William Buick knows his way around this course and distance (5/26, 8p last five years) as does Roger Varian: while he’s only had two runners in this race previously, he’s 5/16, 6p +14 SP with all runners over this track and trip, and the yard are hitting form. French Duke is thoroughly unexposed, should strip fitter for his return run where he may have done too much too soon, and could improve for fast turf and this further step up in trip. I expect him to be running at them late, we’ll see if he gets the gaps.

Autumn Winter – 20/1 - the other one from my list yet to win a race, but Aidan O’Brien knows what’s required, his one winner of this returning 22/1 SP. The booking of Jim Crowley suggests he’s down the pecking order, but he makes handicap debut here after some promising maiden efforts, all in heavy ground. This Galileo colt could well transform for a sounder surface, and a half mile step up in trip. Given the longer race I hope his rider drops him in behind the pace.

Naval Force – 33/1 - one at an even bigger price here for Donnacha O’Brien, who had a group winner at last year’s meeting. There are plenty of unknowns about this son of Churchill also, his first go on faster turf which I think may well suit him, and again a step up in trip to the longest distance he’s faced. Donnacha wouldn’t send him simply for a day out, and he could be a lively outsider in a race where price has been no barrier to success.

Those three darts will do for me in an ultra-competitive handicap. I may not have mentioned the winner, or indeed picked the right ones from the trends list, but they’re the most interesting to my eyes and with any luck they give us something to cheer.

 

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3.45 Ribblesdale Stakes (1m4f, Group 2, 3yo)

Preview by Matt Bisogno

A Group 2 over the Oaks distance for Classic generation fillies, and a race that Teams Gosden and Ballydoyle have held in a half nelson since 2014. During that decade, only Jessica Harrington (2022) and David Wachman (2015) have encroached upon the duopoly. It may be little surprise then that those two powerhouse yards will saddle five runners between them, three for John and Thady, two for Aidan.

None of that quintet is favoured, however, that honour bestowed upon Diamond Rain, a gorgeous daughter of Shamardal out of Oaks winner Dancing Rain. Trained by Charlie Appleby she was unraced at two and, as a three-year-old this term, is unbeaten in two. The first of that pair of wins was here at a mile, the second a striking saunter in a noted Oaks trial at Newbury, Listed level. She skipped Epsom and steps up two furlongs and two grades to contest this. Drawn inside and a prominent racer last time, she's going to be very hard to beat.

Second in the betting lists is Kalpana, trained by Andrew Balding for Juddmonte. She's another who didn't race as a juvenile, but has had four spins in 2024 starting with a neck verdict at Wolverhampton in January. She then bumped into the very smart Inisherin (6th in the 2000 Guineas and now favourite for the Commonwealth Cup on Friday) over a mile at Newcastle before winning a nine-runner Newmarket handicap by ten lengths. Ten! Upped to Listed class last time, over the same ten furlong course and distance as her handicap stroll, she pulled a dozen lengths clear of the third but couldn't quite reel in Friendly Soul.

Aidan's pair are Port Fairy and Rubies Are Red. The former was just caught by the re-opposing Forest Fairy in the Cheshire Oaks last time; while Port F hasn't run since, Forest F rocked up in the Oaks, finishing 17 lengths behind the winner. That doesn't look like Ribblesdale-winning form even allowing for maybe not handling the track that day. Rubies Are Red was even further back at Epsom and is now a four race maiden, though she did run a solid race in the Lingfield Oaks Trial when second.

Best of the three Oaks fillies to contest this was You Got To Me, who finished fourth. She'd previously won half a length in the Lingfield Oaks Trial, a run that puts her close to Rubies Are Red. I think Ralph Beckett's filly is the better but I'm not totally sold on her stamina.

In third at Lingfield was Danielle, for the Gosdens. That is the best of her four efforts to date and she'd need to improve a stone to win. John and Thady also send Siyola, a twice-raced debut winner who ran third behind Diamond Rain in the Newbury Listed race. She was a bit keen in the race that day and, with this bigger field offering prospects of a bit of cover and settling better, she might be able to get closer to the winner there this time; they are both open to plenty of improvement.

Queens Fort rounds out the Clarehaven Stables trio. Another twice-raced filly, she was fourth in a mile and a quarter maiden here on her first run before taking a mile and a half maiden on the all-weather at Lingfield last time. It's a quantum leap from that to this but she's a Galileo out of a smart mare so she, too, could improve again (and she, too, will need to).

Lava Stream is a different model altogether. Trained by David O'Meara she's had six runs, losing the first three and winning the most recent three. Although not obviously bred for this far - by Too Darn Hot - there is stamina on the dam's side and she needed all of the ten furlongs to prevail at Goodwood last time in Listed class. She's a bit of a 'now' filly, improving fast this season, and I quite like her as a late runner to get into the frame. I can't make a case for any of Je Zous, Higher Leaves or Sheema's Rose, which is not to say they won't win of course.

From a betting perspective, she's not much of a price but 13/8 DIAMOND RAIN has looked all class in two starts to date. There's a very good chance she'll take this further step up - in class and distance - in her ample stride. In the each way markets, I can't resist a small play on 25/1 Lava Stream who was doing all her best work at the finish last time and looks deceptively progressive.

 

4.25 Gold Cup (2m4f, Group 1, 4yo+)

Preview by Rory Delargy

Some races are easier to analyse than others, and some are a nightmare, with little form to tie the contestants together. The Gold Cup falls into the first category but is no less intriguing for all that most of the major contenders have intertwined form. The best horse in the contest based on historical form is the 2022 winner Kyprios, but whether you judge him on that form or his runs since returning from an injury last autumn is the key debate to have.

Based on that stellar season where he racked up a series of Group 1 wins, including a career-highlight in the Prix du Cadran which he won by 20 lengths despite literally going walkabout in the closing stages, he will be hard to beat, and his odds are predicated on the notion that he’s as good as ever.

It is possible to argue that two workmanlike wins against inferior rivals this term are a fair bit short of the form he showed then, and he was turned over in the Long Distance Cup by Trawlerman on British Champions Day. The excuses that day were that he had an interrupted prep and that Frankie Dettori outrode Ryan Moore tactically, and there is some merit in both, but excuses are just that. Trawlerman won at level weights when the pair clashed last year and the Godolphin horse has improved markedly in the last 18 months, as shown by his latest third in the Dubai Gold Cup, a race he was well beaten in twelve months prior, before winning all three starts on British soil.

Winner of the 2022 Ebor, Trawlerman showed his liking for Ascot with a close third in the Long Distance Cup later that year, and his British form in the last two years has been progressive since being fitted with a hood, with form figures on home soil reading 113111. He failed to fire in the Middle East last year so his third to Tower Of London in the Dubai Gold Cup was encouraging, especially as he rallied late having been headed. The key feature of his win here on Champions Day was that he also rallied to regain the lead having been headed by Kyprios in the home straight, and he gives the impression that he will be even better suited by the longer trip of the Gold Cup.

I don’t really get why Trawlerman’s stablemate Gregory is a shorter price than him, with his best effort a win in the Queen’s Vase here last year. He’s lost all three subsequent starts by the guts of five lengths each time and while he may appreciate the longer trip, he needs to improve by 7lb to match the leading pair and I'm less convinced than others that he will relish the step up from 1¾m to 2½m at the first try. Vauban was in front of him in the Yorkshire Cup last time, but doesn’t look to be crying out for a stiffer test, and his win here last year was in handicap company over 1¾m which leaves him with a bit to find. It’s a similar story for last year’s Ebor runner-up Sweet William, who does at least hold Caius Chorister on Henry II Stakes form at Sandown.

Coltrane beat Caius Chorister the same narrow margin as Sweet William did when winning the Sagaro Stakes here and there is little between the trio, who have place claims but seem held on collateral form. Ironically, Trueshan proved he didn’t need softish ground when winning the Prix du Cadran last year and he also beat Sweet William at Doncaster prior to that. He could outrun his lengthy odds if allowed to run, for all his participation must be in doubt given previous late withdrawals from this race.

Recommended: 1pt e/w Trawlerman @ 8/1 (general – 3 places)

 

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5.05 Britannia Stakes (1m, Class 2 handicap, 3yo)

Presented by Gavin Priestley's "Festival Trends" service

There are some very strong trends associated with the Britannia handicap and hopefully they can narrow down the field sufficiently to help us find the winner. I'm going to ignore the result for 2020, due to the Covid outbreak, as Royal Ascot was run out of order with some of the major meetings that year and without the usual build up to the race for these 3yo's.

The most striking stat from the last 12 non-Covid renewals is that they had all finished top five on their last run (71 losers finishing 6th or worse last time out).

Looking at some other stats we can see that all of the last 12 winners had run in the previous nine weeks (63 days) with all 28 horses trying to defy such a break beaten (just two placed). Other types of runners that we can overlook in the Britannia include those dropping down in trip compared to their last run (55 losers in the last 12 years), those that last ran on the all-weather (34 losers / 4 placed), those that last ran in a maiden (all 17 such runners unplaced) and any rated under 87 or carrying less than 8-04 (all ten unplaced).

Unfortunately, this year those trends don't help us too much with only a handful of runners ruled out; but if we look at the other end of the weights we can see that only one winner has managed to carry more than 9-03 and only one winner has managed to defy a rating of 100+ (Aidan O'Brien's War Envoy in 2015) from the 55 to have tried over the last 12 years. In fact, since War Envoy won in 2015, all eight winners have been rated in the 90's (three of the eight were rated exactly 90).

A typical Britannia winner is also fairly lightly raced with ten of the last 12 winners having raced 3-6 times in their career and when coupled with what has been a fairly significant draw bias in the Britannia (high numbers have dominated this century including nine of the last 10 winners coming from a double figure draw) this would take us down to a shortlist of five: Involvement, Qirat, Artic Thunder, Mickley and Skukuza.

Of the five I quite like the look of ARTIC THUNDER who two starts back got within three lengths of the subsequent 2000 Guineas winner Notable Speech (didn't run his race in yesterday's St James Palace) at level weights, leading that race until the final furlong. He showed that performance was no fluke when going to Ascot to win a Class 2 handicap by a short head with the third horse 3 1/2 lengths back and, despite going up 7lb, could still be well in going by that Kempton run.

The step back up to a mile shouldn't be a problem as he was sticking on well at Ascot and always looked to have the measure of the runner up. It's a big field of mostly unexposed 3yo handicappers but his trainer did win this race in 2014 and the selection seems to fit the profile of a typical Britannia winner. He's worth chancing at the odds.

SELECTION: ARCTIC THUNDER 28/1

 

5.40 Hampton Court Stakes (1m2f, Group 3, 3yo)

Preview by David Massey

The only winning favourite in the last five years for the Hampton Court Stakes has been Mohaafeth, who had been due to run in the Derby before a last-minute injury kept him away from the race; but, equally, the biggest-priced winner in that period has been 7-1, which both Claymore (when defeating the long odds-on Reach for The Moon) and Waipiro were when winning in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

So we don’t usually have to look too far down the market to find the winner, and we might not have to look far at all if the fast-improving King’s Gambit takes another step forward after his easy Newbury win last time out.

It was hard not to be impressed with the manner of that win, showing a very smart turn of foot after being produced at the furlong pole, and the way he powered on to pull four lengths clear of the improving Poniros, with previous winner Chantilly back in third, was impressive.

The fact that connections weren’t trying to win clever with him rather suggested that further handicaps weren’t on their minds anyway: just as well as he received a 14lb fine for it, but rather that they knew they have a Group horse on their hands and one that will be stepping up in grade sooner rather than later.

All the metrics of that win stack up, form and time figures both impressive, and now he’s proven himself on quicker ground, it’s hard to find many negatives to his chance.

Technically speaking, First Look’s second in the Prix du Jockey Club is a better piece of form but all of his turf form to date has come on ground no quicker than good, according to Timeform, and by Thursday it’s going to be very quick. (I can tell you from walking the course Tuesday morning there’s no give out there, and it’s only going to get quicker.) That has to be a concern, and for all he’s respected, King’s Gambit looks the better option.

Taraj changed hands for a pretty penny earlier in the week, with Amo Racing going to £480,000 to get him on Monday, and they will be looking for an immediate return. His third to Los Angeles in the Leopardstown Derby Trial reads well enough, but it needs improving upon.

You can, if you are the forgiving sort, make some sort of case for Jayarebe from the outside stall 12, which might suit his front-running style given there's not that much pace on here. He looked a useful sort when winning the Feilden Stakes back in April, for all that Newmarket was suiting front-runners at the time, and it’s worth remembering he had Derby second Ambiente Friendly behind him that day. He ran to a similar level at Chester in the Dee Stakes despite pulling too hard for his own good for the first half of the contest; the key will be getting him to settle in front and saving something for the final stages. Both Brian Meehan and Sean Levey are off the mark for the week, and of those at double-figure prices, he makes a bit more appeal than most.

 

6.15 Buckingham Palace Stakes (7f, Class 2 handicap, 3yo+)

Presented by Sam Darby's "Winning Post Profits" service

I write this before any races have been run on Wednesday so it’s possible that, 13 races later when it’s time for the Buckingham Palace Stakes, there could be a fairly obvious draw bias. Despite being a little in the dark I’m relatively confident I know which side is going to be favoured here, and it’s not the side most of the market leaders have been drawn on…

 

 

Higher draws do have a better record over 7f here on fast ground but, quite remarkably, the main three pace angles in this race - and possibly the only three pace angles - will be emerging from stalls 1, 2 and 3. Arabian Storm is shown on the pace map as a potential leader from stall 15 but he’s a reserve and probably won’t get in.

Perhaps the ground will be faster on the near side by the time this race comes around and high draws might be favoured but it seems the lower drawn horses are going to get a much better tow into the race and I’m therefore largely attracted to lowish drawn hold up performers.

I do want to have Fresh on my side despite him exiting stall 30. He’s a three-time course winner and has also finished a close 2nd in the Wokingham previously. He might be a little regressive now at the age of 7, which is why he’s so well handicapped on older form (10lbs lower than his last win) but I’m a sucker for horses that perform very well in far from ideal circumstances (which he did), as it’s pretty certain they’ll run even better when getting the ideal setup.

He’s been slow to come to hand this season but he showed much more of his old sparkle last time at Haydock in a steadily run race over 6f where he was only beaten 1.5 lengths, and very much shaped as though a stiffer test would suit. If all the pace was on the near side I’d be having a hefty each way bet on Fresh but I think, in the circumstances, a small win only bet will suffice. Assuming he is drawn on the wrong side, he should be monitored in the near future as I think his turn is approaching.

The horses more likely to be well handicapped all seem to be drawn higher so I wouldn’t be surprised if the places are filled with big prices from the lower half of the draw. I was tempted by Greatgadian at 40/1, who might love a really well run 7f handicap having done most of his racing over further. He would have been a bet on his all-weather form but he does seem a better horse on artificial surfaces and for that reason I’ll leave him out of calculations from stall 4.

I’ve been watching Summerghand find the run of the race against him time and time again this season and the old boy has become extremely well handicapped again. He would have been my bet in the Wokingham had he looked likely to get in but the big question mark here is the trip. He’s always been a 6f specialist, though he was stepped up to 7f last time out at Newmarket and, because of his sole previous effort over this trip in the UK, I thought he had half a chance in that.

All the way back in 2019, Summerghand was 4th of 17 in soft ground in the Challenge Cup here off a mark of 102. Given he’s better on faster ground, that was an excellent effort and seemed to confirm that he gets 7f. But he got disappointingly outpaced last time at Newmarket though over the 7f trip and, whilst he finished well, he was never getting near the leaders. He’ll likely be better at this course but considering the winner was in a similar position to him about 3f out, the pace setup can’t be blamed for Summerghand’s performance there.

Still, I’m not sure the Rowley Mile course suits him so much these days so at 33/1 I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt slightly here from stall 13. He’s finished 2nd once, and 5th twice, in the Wokingham and he’s always been strong at the finish in those so must have some sort of chance from his lowest mark in over six years. If this isn't to be his day - he tends to show his very best form around August time - I expect him to take advantage of his slipping mark very soon.

Tacarib Bay has run in three handicaps at Ascot: he was 2nd to Tempus over a mile two years ago off a mark of 106; in the same year he was 3rd in the Balmoral off 104; and he was 6th (1st of 14 in his group) in last year’s renewal of this race off a mark of 103. All three of those runs make him look well handicapped off 99 here.

As recently as November he won a Listed sprint at Newcastle and, again over 6f at Newcastle in January, he was 5th off 106 in a hot handicap. He hasn’t beaten many home in three starts this season but headgear goes back on now suggesting this is either a bit of a plot, or a last roll of the dice. From stall 10, at 40/1, I’m willing to pay to find out.

In summary, the positioning of the pace makes the low draws too difficult to ignore. The more fancied runners mostly seem to be drawn high and I like the chances of Fresh on that side so I’m recommending a small win only bet on him (top price 20/1 at time of writing, similar available on Exchanges). I think low drawn horses at big prices could dominate the finish, though, and I’ll have further small win only bets on Summerghand (33/1) and Tacarib Bay (40/1). Low confidence, but saving stakes for a winner on Friday!

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2024 Royal Ascot Betting Trends – Day Two (Weds 19th June)

More top action in June as the horse racing bandwagon turns its attention to the 2024 Royal Ascot Meeting. The five-day meeting (Tues 18th to Sat 22nd June 2024) is always one of the highlights on the flat racing calendar.

Like all big race days, here at GEEGEEZ we've got it all covered with key trends and stats - use these trends to narrow down the field and find the best past profiles of recent winners - as the big meeting moves into day two on Wednesday 19th June 2024.

Royal Ascot Trends Day Two – Wednesday 19th June 2024

2.30 - Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies) 5f ITV

Queen Mary Recent Winners

2023 – Crimson Advocate (9/1)
2022 – Dramatised (5/2 fav)
2021 – Quick Suzy (8/1)
2020 – Campanelle (9/2)
2019 – Raffle Prize (18/1)
2018 – Signora Cabello (25/1)
2017 – Heartache (5/1)
2016 – Lady Aurelia (2/1 fav)
2015 – Acapulco (5/2 fav)
2014 – Anthem Alexander (9/4 fav)
2013 – Rizeena (6/1)
2012 – Ceiling Kitty (20/1)
2011 – Best Terms (12/1)
2010 – Maqaasid (9/4 fav)
2009 – Jealous Again (13/2)
2008 – Langs Lash (25/1)
2007 – Elletelle (20/1)
2006 – Gilded (11/2)
2005 – Flashy Wings (4/1 jfav)
2004 – Damson (11/2 jfav)
2003 – Attraction (13/8 fav)
2002 – Romantic Liason (16/1)

Queen Mary Stakes Trends

21/22 – Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
21/22 – Had between 1 and 3 previous runs that season
18/22 – Had won over 5f (or shorter) before
18/22 – Won their previous race
16/22 – Won by a horse foaled between Jan-Mar
16/22 – Placed favourites
9/22 – Won from non UK-based yards
8/22 – Winning favourites (2 joint)
7/22 – Returned a double-figure price
5/22 – Trained in the US
4/22 – Trained by Wesley Ward (including 3 of last 9 runnings)
2/22 – Won by trainer Richard Hannon
9 of the last 10 winners came from stalls 12+
5 of the last 10 winners came from stalls 20+

3.05 - Queen's Vase (Listed) (CLASS 1) (3yo) 2m ITV

Queen's Vase Recent Winners

2023 – Gregory (Evs fav)
2022 – Eldar Eldarov (5/2 fav)
2021 – Kemari (15/2)
2020 – Santiago (10/3)
2019 – Dashing Willoughby (6/1)
2018 – Kew Gardens (10/3)
2017 – Stradivarius (11/2)
2016 – Sword Fighter (33/1)
2015 – Aloft (5/2 fav)
2014 – Hartnell (7/2)
2013 – Leading Light (5/4 fav)
2012 – Estimate (3/1 fav)
2011 – Namibian (7/2 fav)
2010 – Mikhail Glinka (2/1 fav)
2009 – Holberg (7/1)
2008 – Patkai (6/4 fav)
2007 – Mahler (7/1)
2006 – Soapy Danger (4/1)
2005 – Melrose Avenue (4/1)
2004 – Duke Of Venice (9/2)
2003 – Shanty Star (7/2 fav)

Queen's Vase Key Trends

19/21 – Had never raced at Ascot before
15/21 – Placed last time out
13/21 – Had at least 2 previous career wins
13/21 – Had run over at least 1m4f before
12/21 – Placed favourites
7/21 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
7/21 – Ran at either Lingfield or Haydock last time out
8/21 – Winning favourites
5/21 - Trained by the Johnston yard
5/21 - Ridden by Ryan Moore
2/21 - Trained by Sir Michael Stoute (won it 4 times in all)
No winner from stall 1 in the last 18 years
The horse from stall 7 has been placed in 7 of the last 17 runnings (4 wins)
17 of the last 18 winners came from a single-figure stall
7 of the last 18 winners came from stalls 7 or 8

3.45 - The Duke of Cambridge Stakes (Windsor Forest) (Group 2) 1m ITV

Duke of Cambridge Recent Winners

2023 – Rogue Millennium (10/1)
2022 – Saffron Beach (5/2 jfav)
2021 – Indie Angel (22/1)
2020 – Nazeef (10/3)
2019 – Move Swiftly (9/1)
2018 – Aljazzi (9/2)
2017 – Qemah (5/2 fav)
2016 – Usherette (9/4 fav)
2015 – Amazing Maria (25/1)
2014 – Integral (9/4 fav)
2013 – Duntle (10/3)
2012 – Joviality (11/1)
2011 – Lolly For Dolly (11/1)
2010 – Strawberrydaiquiri (9/2)
2009 – Spacious (10/1)
2008 – Sabana Perdida (4/1)
2007 – Nannina (3/1 co-fav)
2006 – Soviet Song (11/8 fav)
2005 – Peeress (14/1)
2004 – Favourable Terms (13/2)

Duke of Cambridge Trends

19/20 – Had won over a mile (or further) before
18/20 – Had at least 1 previous run that season
17/20 – Won by a 4 year-old
16/20 – Finished in the top 3 last time out
15/20 – Had won a Group 3 or better race before
13/20 – Favourites that were placed
12/20 – Had run at Ascot before
7/20 – Had won at Ascot before
7/20 – Returned a double-figure price
6/20 – Winning favourites (1 co)
5/20 – Owned by Cheveley Park Stud
4/20 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
4/20 – Ran at Epsom last time out
4/20 – Trained by John Gosden (3 of the last 12 and 2 of last 4 runnings)
3/20 – Ridden by William Buick (3 of last 12)
2/20 – Ridden by Ryan Moore (2 of last 12)
2/20 – Won by trainer James Fanshawe
2/20 – Winners from stall 1

Only 5 placed horses (2 winners) from stall 1 in the last 20 runnings

 4.25 - Prince of Wales's Stakes (Group 1) 1m2f ITV

Prince of Wales's Stakes Recent Winners

2023 – Mostahdaf (10/1)
2022 – State Of Rest (5/1)
2021 – Love (11/10 fav)
2020 – Lord North (5/1)
2019 – Crystal Ocean (3/1)
2018 – Poet’s Word (11/2)
2017 – Highland Reel (9/4)
2016 – My Dream Boat (16/1)
2015 – Free Eagle (5/2 fav)
2014 – The Fugue (11/2)
2013 – Al Kazeem (11/4)
2012 – So You Think (4/5 fav)
2011 – Rewilding (17/2)
2010 – Byword (5/2 fav)
2009 – Vision D’etat (4/1)
2008 – Duke of Marmalade (Evs fav)
2007 – Manduro (15/8 fav)
2006 – Ouija Board (8/1)
2005 – Azamour (11/8 fav)
2004 – Rakti (3/1)
2003 – Nayef (5/1)
2002 -  Grandera (4/1)

Prince of Wales's Stakes Trends

22/22 – Had won over at least 1m2f before
21/22 – Returned 10/1 or shorter in the betting
21/22 – Won by a 4 or 5 year-old
18/22 – Finished in the top three last time out
18/22 – Had at least 1 previous run that season
15/22 – Were previous Group 1 winners
15/22 – Placed favourites
12/22 – Won their last race
12/22 – Had run at Ascot before
11/22 – Won by a non-UK based trainer
7/22 – Winning favourites
4/22 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien (3 of the last 12)
3/22 – Trained by John Gosden (5 wins in total)
2/22 – Won by a Godolphin-owned horse (5 wins in total)
3 of the last 16 runnings have gone to a French-trained horse

5.05 - Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap) 1m ITV

Royal Hunt Cup Recent Winners

2023 – Jimi Hendrix (22/1)
2022 – Dark Shift (13/2)
2021 – Real World (18/1)
2020 – Dark Vision (15/2)
2019 – Afaak (20/1)
2018 – Settle For Bay (16/1)
2017 – Zhui Feng (25/1)
2016 – Portage (10/1)
2015 – GM Hopkins (8/1)
2014 – Field of Dream (20/1)
2013 – Belgian Bill (33/1)
2012 – Prince Of Johanne (16/1)
2011 – Julienas (12/1)
2010 – Invisible Man (28/1)
2009 – Forgotten Voice (4/1 fav)
2008 – Mr Aviator (25/1)
2007 – Royal Oath (9/1)
2006 – Cesare (14/1)
2005 – New Seeker (11/1)
2004 – Mine (16/1)
2003 – Macadamia (8/1)
2002 – Norton (25/1)

Royal Hunt Cup Trends

20/22 – Had won over at least a mile before
19/22 – Aged 4 or 5 years-old
16/22 – Carried 9-1 or less
16/22 – Unplaced favourites
16/22 – Returned a double-figure price
14/22 – Had run at Ascot before
14/22 – Won by a 4 year-old (inc 11 of the last 14 runnings)
12/22 – Had 2 or 3 previous runs that season
6/22 – Won their last race
2/22 – Won by trainer James Fanshawe
2/22 – Won by trainer John Gosden
2/22 – Won by trainer Charles Hills (2 of the last 5)
1/22 – Winning favourites
Overall, high number stalls have dominated in recent years
14 of the last 18 winners came from a double-figure stall
We’ve seen 3 winners from stall 33 in the last 15 runnings

 5.40 – Kensington Palace Stakes (Handicap) (4yo+) fillies and mares 1m ITV

3 previous runnings
No winning favourite yet
All three past winners aged 4
All three winners drawn between 8-17
All three winners returned a double figure price
Villanova Queen (25/1) won this race in 2023
Rising Star (40/1) won this race in 2022
Trainer Mrs John Harrington won this race in 2023
Trainer Marco Botti won this race in 2022
Trainer David Loughnane won this race in 2021

6.15 - Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed Race) (CLASS 1) (2yo) 5f ITV4

Windsor Castle Recent Winners

2023 – Big Evs (20/1)
2022 – Little Big Bear (6/5 fav)
2021 – Chipotle (22/1)
2020 – Tactical (7/2 fav)
2019 – Southern Hills (7/1)
2018 – Soldier’s Call (12/1)
2017 – Sound And Silence (16/1)
2016 – Ardad (20/1)
2015 – Washington DC (5/1)
2014 – Hootenanny (7/2 fav)
2013 – Extortionist (16/1)
2012 – Hototo (14/1)
2011 – Frederick Engels (9/4 fav)
2010 – Marine Commando (9/2)
2009 – Strike The Tiger (33/1)
2008 – Flashmans Papers (100/1)
2007 – Drawnfromthepast (9/1)
2006 – Elhamri (20/1)
2005 – Titus Alone (11/4)
2004 – Chateau Istana (12/1)
2003 – Holborn (5/2 fav)
2002 – Revenue (14/1)

Windsor Castle Trends

22/22 – Had at least 1 previous outing
21/22 – Won by a foal born April or earlier
19/22 – Had 2 or 3 previous runs
16/22 – Had won over 5f before
16/22 – Placed last time out
16/22 – Had never run at Ascot before
12/22 – Returned a double-figure price (inc a 100/1 winner)
11/22 – Unplaced favourites
10/22 – Won their previous race
9/22 – Won by a Feb foal
5/22 – Winning favourites
2/22 – Trained by Wesley Ward
2/22 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien (3 of last 9)

Just 2 horses placed from stall 1 in the last 16 runnings
11 of the last 16 winners came from a double-figure stall

 

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Royal Ascot 2024: Day 2 (Wednesday) Preview, Tips

And so to the second finger of the geegeez.co.uk Royal Ascot KitKat: no Saturday here, that's for you. As you'll hopefully know by now, this week we're featuring guest previews from some trusted friends - and fine judges - alongside yours truly, starting today with John 'Victor Value' Burke in the Wednesday curtain-raiser, the...

2.30 Queen Mary Stakes (5f, Group 2, 2yo fillies)

Presented by John Burke's "Victor Value" service

The Queen Mary Stakes is one of the most prestigious races for two-year-old fillies at Royal Ascot. First run in 1921, this race often features the most precocious and speedy fillies of the season, and many past winners have gone on to achieve significant success in their racing careers.

Key Trends (Last 5 Years):

Stall 17+: 4 winners from 37 runners +4.5, 9 places. (Stalls 1-16: 1 winner from 74 runners -68.5, 6 places).

Odds: 9/1 or shorter: 4 winners from 21 runners +7, 11 placed.

USA Trained: 2 winners from 11 runners +4.05, 4 placed.

The Listed Marygate Stakes at York’s Dante Meeting has been a good pointer to the Queen Mary producing three winners since 2008. This year’s race was won by Betty Clover who takes her place in the line-up.

Surprisingly, Aidan O’Brien has never won the Queen Mary.

Top Contenders:

Make Haste heads the ante post betting after creating a good impression when successful on racecourse debut at Naas last month. A speedy daughter of Blue Point she produced a good change of gear to win at Naas and is open to further improvement. Could have handy draw in stall 18.

Aidan O’Brien saddles Truly Enchanting who overcame greenness to win at Tipperary (soft) on debut 22 days ago. Strong at the finish last time the daughter of No Nay Never should be fine on quicker ground and looks a good prospect. Can she give her trainer a first Queen Mary success?

Leovanni, trained by Karl Burke, looked a smart prospect when winning a Nottingham maiden 14 days ago. Capable of better, it was good to firm that day so quick ground won’t faze her and she should go well.

Enchanting Empress made it 3 from 3 when winning the Listed National Stakes at Sandown (soft) last time. A reproduction of her Sandown form would probably be good enough to place in an average Queen Mary. Yet to race on ground better than good to soft but if she handles it she won’t be far away from stall 25.

Betty Clover was a winner at Bath on her racecourse debut  and returned to winning ways in the Listed Marygate Stakes last time. Came from off a strong pace to win at York and should benefit from Ascot’s stiffer 5f.

Ultima Grace, trained by Wesley Ward, looked speedy when winning on the dirt on debut at Keeneland (4 ½ f) in April. A daughter of American Pharoah, she’s likely got the scope for further improvement and shouldn’t be underestimated for a trainer who has won the race three times since 2015. Said by Ward to have worked well on grass and could be nicely berthed in stall 17.

Miss Rascal built on her racecourse debut promise when winning a course and distance maiden last month. Looked very professional when successful last time which will hold her in good stead here. Tom Marquand stays in the saddle. Likely to go well if stall five isn’t an inconvenience.

Queen Mary Stakes Verdict:

The Queen Mary Stakes promises to be an exciting sprint with a blend of precocious talent and potential future stars. Based on pace maps, the race is likely to be strongly contested from the start. Ascot’s five furlongs favours those who race prominently, so I’m focusing on horses who are likely to be close to the speed.

Ultima Grace has shown good early speed and should thrive on fast ground, and Miss Rascal impressed with her recent win over the course and distance. But Make Haste has garnered significant attention with connections turning down substantial offers, indicating their confidence in her potential.

Betting Advice:

My main selection is Make Haste but I’m having savers on Miss Rascal and Ultima Grace

• Make Haste: £16 win @ 6/1 with William Hill
• Miss Rascal: £2 win @ 10/1 with William Hill & Ladbrokes
• Ultima Grace: £2 win @ 11/1 with William Hill & bet365.

 

3.05 Queen's Vase (1m6f, Group 2, 3yo)

Presented by Josh Wright from "Racing To Profit"

I’m gunning for HIGHBURY in this race, at around 7/2…

As always, let me start with some stats and trends… a historical ‘race profile’ points to previous winners having finished top 2 at least once on their last three starts, top 3 last time out, 0-2 runs this season, and having run over 1m4.5f or shorter last time out… this would have found 13 of the previous 16 winners, and 11 of the last 12.

IF this profile holds again, we’d be looking at a shortlist of just four… Illinois, Highbury, Grosvenor Square and Mina Rashid

It may also be worth noting that 15 of the last 16 winners were sent off 15/2 or shorter ISP, those sent off bigger in the period a miserly 1/143, 20p.

To the trainers…

Those handlers to have won this race in the last 16 renewals, and represented today, include Andrew Balding (Mina Rashid), John & Thady Gosden (Pappano) and of course Aidan O’Brien, who leads the way with six winners from 28 runners, 13 places (inc. the winners), four of those sired by the late great Galileo, who is the daddy of all four of Aidan’s runners this year.

Staying with Aidan for the moment, his runners sent off 5/2 or shorter ISP are a perfect 3/3, which as I type is a positive for Illinois, but maybe he and Highbury will flip around, we shall see. Those sent off 10/3 or shorter ISP are 5/9, 5p +10 BFSP. Aidan was responsible for the only 8/1+ shot winning in the period.

Evidently there are no issues with the yard form. I’m writing this before the team’s Day 1 runners strut their stuff, but in the previous 14 days the Master of Ballydoyle is 11/23, 15p, 79% of rivals beaten. They’re firing on all cylinders and couldn’t be entering the week in much better nick, no excuses on that score.

Highbury

He ticks a lot of boxes for me here and at 7/2 or so offers a shade of value, to my eyes at least. In truth I do not know if Ryan Moore had the choice here, he usually does however Wayne Lordan has been on for both his career runs, evidently knows him best and is 7/13, 8p when riding for his boss in the previous 14 days. He couldn’t be coming here in much better form, as now stable #2. Aidan’s ‘second’ and ‘third’ string jockeys have won this race a few times and it will be interesting to see what the market does as race time approaches.

Of all the O’Brien runners in the Queen's Vase this year, he has least to prove on the ground, supposedly Good to Firm when bolting up at Leopardstown 38 days ago over 1m4f. He travelled comfortably and won easily in a race that is working out very well: six horses have since run and all have either won or placed. He’s well drawn to race prominently, and the Geegeez Pace Map suggests team Ballydole may dominate from flag fall. I’d certainly expect Highbury to be in the top four after a furlong, in the perfect spot to pounce. There looks to be so much more to come from him, and he’ll no doubt relish this further step up in distance and bounce off the ground, which is a question for some. I’d make him favourite.

 

 

Ryan More rides Illinois, possibly why he’s favourite -I suspect were he on Highbury, they’d be the other way round. Or so I keep telling myself! That may be indicative of what the team expects but I’m not sure. In any case, Illinois looked uncomfortable around Lingfield on faster ground, his previous runs on a softer surface. He hung up the straight with an awkward head-carriage, and on that basis, at 2/1 or so, I wanted to oppose.

Maybe it was the undulating course, or an off day, but he looked far from happy and stayed on at the one pace, for all he beat the rest easily; and, of course, he bumped into The Derby runner-up. I wasn’t convinced he was crying out for further either, but I’m prepared to eat humble pie on that score. Aidan’s other two have questions on fast ground also, and I’d like to think that both the stable #1 and #2 can’t be wrong here, for all it’s happened before.

Having said that, Grosvenor Square has it in him to run into a place, entitled to improve on his effort at Chester which was his first start of the season. He shaped there as if he’d relish a stamina test, if handling Good to Firm, and I’d expect him to take a fair step forward. He may also be happier around this more galloping expanse.

Birdman could be staying on into the places if handling the ground, an unknown, but historically this goes to horses stepping up further in trip from their last start, who haven’t yet shown their hand over 1m5f+, which he did when winning a Listed race last time. Those running over such a distance when last seen are 0/29, 5p in this race, but that's clearly a stat which is there to be broken. I just feel there’s a chance he’ll lack the tactical pace required.

Mina Rashid could also make the frame for all, as previously discussed, historically this hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for bigger priced horses. The form of Chester is yet to be tested and I don’t like the fact he wears a hood – that suggests he could get worked up pre-race in this carnival atmosphere and you do not want to be pulling on your first start over 1m6f, in a Royal Ascot Group 2. It looks a fair step up, but Andrew Balding knows what’s needed to win this race - he took it with Dashing Willoughby in 2019 - which is worth something and, if settling, he could run a nice race if you prefer an each-way stab at something. At least we know he’ll handle the ground and he shapes like a stayer in the making. I wasn’t too taken with any others.

The more I look at this race, the more bullish I become on 7/2 Highbury’s chances, what could possibly go wrong?! Maybe Grosvenor Square or Mina Rashid will chase him home, for those who like to play the forecasts, but I'm try to get the current favourite beaten!

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3.45 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (1m, Group 2, 4yo+ fillies and mares)

Preview by Matt Bisogno.

The Duke Of Cambridge, formerly Windsor Forest, Stakes is a mile Group 2 usually run on the straight track for older fillies and mares. This year, it moves to the round course. Since its inception in 2004, 17 of the 20 winners were four-year-olds and only Aljazzi in 2018 has won for five-year-olds and up since 2008. This is interesting because the current joint-favourites are both aged five.

They are last year's winner Rogue Millennium and the Gosdens-trained Laurel. Let's cover the Rogue first. Naturally, course and distance are no problem but she came into the race in much better form twelve months ago; then, she was dropping back a quarter mile in trip having run second at a big price in the G2 Middleton Stakes at York. That extra stamina proved to be the clincher as she ground down Random Harvest by a neck at the line. This season, she's run just once, a taking enough prep at the Curragh over a mile (G2, good) when never nearer than at the finish; the stiffer test here will suit better and she ought to come on for the run, but with so many less exposed fillies in opposition she's hardly a value price.

In her third season racing and with just five career starts under her belt, one couldn't describe Laurel as a hardy type (see what I did there?!) but she is commensurately unexposed. Those five starts comprise a Newmarket fillies' novice debut score, two Kempton all-weather wins (one at Listed level), a close second in the Group 1 Sun Chariot and a clunk when last seen in the 2023 Lockinge. So, we've not witnessed her on track for over a year and she has only a single piece of form to justify her price; granted, it's a strong piece of form, but it was recorded in October 2022.

Let's cast the net across the four-year-old cohort as they're 8/1 and bigger as I write. And, with this stiff mile taking some getting, I like the 'turn back' angle: horses shortening in trip from their last run. Historically that has most often brought into play the Princess Margaret Stakes at Epsom and the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket. A filly who stepped out in both is Running Lion, who was a fair second on her seasonal bow at HQ having over-raced in that small field, before enduring a hideously luckless passage down the inner at Epsom on Derby day.

Trained by John and Thady, and ridden by Oisin, Running Lion hasn't tried as short as a mile in her last six outings but she was previously unbeaten in three at the trip. With enough pace around to help her settle and with the slightly wider track at Ascot to mitigate for traffic problems, she's an interesting player.

It might be that the Epsom race is queenmaker in this year's Duke Of Cambridge, with three of the first four home - respectively the winner, 3rd and 4th, Breege, Royal Dress and Julia Augusta - as well as Running Lion re-opposing. It was an archetypically messy race on the Epsom cambers and bears reviewing. The first image below is just inside the final quarter mile with Running Lion (all green) locked up on the rail, the yellow of Julia Augusta and the light green with lilac cap of Breege in the clear; red striped cap is Royal Dress having a shoulder barge with Chic Colombine, also in the highlighted box...

 

 

And this is at the furlong pole: Running Lion eased off, Julia Augusta no more to give, Breege - unimpeded - falls in for the win from the fast-finishing Chic Colombine and Royal Dress.

 

 

The question is, how would things have panned out granted smooth transit for all runners? It's a puzzle and obviously somewhat subjective; my feeling is that Royal Dress would have won. Placing Running Lion, beaten less than four lengths, is nigh on impossible. What is easier to posit is that Julia Augusta and Breege were least inconvenienced, the winner not being far enough clear of the third (and the eighth?) to expect to confirm placings. Claro?!

In any case, Breege's best form has come with some give and, as you can probably tell, I'm looking elsewhere for my play. Royal Dress, by Night Of Thunder out of a Dynaformer mare, is unexposed at a mile and her pedigree says she ought to keep rolling all the way to the Ascot lollipop. A slow maturing type she doesn't have an admirable win record but may have been waiting for a stiffer test of this nature. Having won a mile soft ground Listed race at Goodwood on her four-year-old debut she would have arrived here unbeaten in 2024 in more fortuitous circumstances.

The other 'turn back' filly is Sea The Lady, trained in France by Christopher Head (formerly of Big Rock and Blue Rose Cen fame). In what seems to be something of a carousel of comings and goings at Head's yard, this filly arrived from Yann Barberot's over the winter and ran an encouraging stable debut when third in a Longchamp Group 3 at ten furlongs. She travelled well and exhibited a nice gear change before flattening out there: perhaps that was lack of race fitness, perhaps stamina running out, perhaps the very soft ground, and most likely a combination of those factors.

Back in trip, with a race under her belt and for a trainer who has shown he can target big pots at Ascot, she's at least an interesting runner. There is the niggle, however, that having been bought by UK breeders for €300,000 as a broodmare prospect she could be a(n expensive) ticket for the very good owners' luncheon. In short, she's hard to weigh up, the balance of her form likely not good enough.

One to have plied much of her recent trade over further is Novus, beaten a whisker by Royal Dress last time in that Goodwood Listed contest. She has form to put herself on the podium but probably would have preferred softer turf. While, of the recent pure milers, Ocean Jewel won a Group 2 at the Curragh last time and was unlucky in the run on her first try at this trip in the G1 Matron Stakes last September. Unlucky she may have been but she was nearly ten lengths behind the winner, with Rogue Millennium some way ahead that day. Still, she's quite lightly raced and unexposed at a mile and, consequently, a player.

Orchid Bloom wasn't too far behind Ocean Jewel last time but I don't see why placings should be reversed, all other things being equal.

In the end, I'm going back to the beginning, and the Princess Margaret form: I think 12/1 Royal Dress and 14/1 Running Lion are both backable at those prices.

 

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4.25 Prince Of Wales's Stakes (1m2f, Group 1, 4yo+)

Preview by Rory Delargy

With warmer temperatures and a receding rain threat ensuring quick ground at Ascot, it’s hard to see a shock in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. The front pair in the market stand out on official ratings and both have shown their very best form on fast turf; so, while it’s tempting to find an each-way angle into races at the Royal meeting, sometimes you have to simply play the cards you’ve been dealt. In short, this looks a shootout between Auguste Rodin and Inspiral, and the former edges the verdict at the current prices.

White Birch seemed to beat Auguste Rodin on merit in the Tattersalls Gold Cup but while Joseph Murphy’s star is best with some cut in the ground, Auguste Rodin’s best form last year came when the turf was very quick. All three of his blowouts came on good or softer, including on watered turf at Meydan, whereas four runs on good to firm or firm resulted in wins in the Derby, Irish Derby, Irish Champion Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Turf. That’s quite a haul for a “twicer”.

It's hard to be certain that the ground is the reason for Auguste Rodin’s inconsistency and he obviously won the Group 1 Futurity on heavy as a juvenile; but it’s also tough to deny that his firm ground efforts have been those of a superstar, his form on softer of late not in the same class. He can have no excuses, it seems.

Inspiral has been rerouted here from the Queen Anne, and while I think that’s the right call given she seems best around a turn, there has to be some debate about her stamina for a stiff ten furlongs. She won the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf over this trip at Santa Anita, again showing her liking for fast turf and a turning track, but the sharp circuit in California would place less emphasis on stamina than Ascot’s more demanding track.

Her best form gives her every chance and her draw is a positive as long as Kieran Shoemark has the confidence to keep her wide, but I wonder whether the tactics will be to tuck in at the back of the field in order to attempt to conserve her stamina. I suspect that will indeed be the case and I’m not a fan of dropping in from a wide draw at this track, as it makes you a hostage to fortune.

Talking of the jockey’s confidence, I wonder whether Shoemark has had his dented by defeats on Inspiral in the Lockinge and Emily Upjohn in the Coronation Cup. He was outmanoeuvred tactically in both races but was riding mares who – by their trainer’s admission – were not fit to do themselves justice. Shoemark is filling big shoes at Royal Ascot this week, and I’d have preferred to see him ride a big winner to get the proverbial monkey off his back. I’d be genuinely pleased to see him do that here but the percentage call in a situation like this is to side with Ryan Moore, who certainly won’t be second guessing what defeat might mean.

Recommended: 1pt win Auguste Rodin @ 7/4 (William Hill)

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5.05 Royal Hunt Cup (1m, Class 2, 3yo+ Handicap)

Presented by Sam Darby's "Winning Post Profits" service

My biggest headache for every Ascot meeting is the straight track draw - and, in truth, I’m no closer to figuring it out. I will go through the data shortly but there is only so much it can tell you. Last year, and in 2021, the places were dominated by very high drawn horses, yet the winners in those years came from stalls 7 and 4.

Gone are the days where anything can be confidently ruled out because of the draw, but is there any advantage at all?

 

 

Concentrate on the blue line on the first graph above, taken from the geegeez racecard DRAW tab, which shows the PRB3 (average percentage of rivals beaten of a stall and its immediate neighbours) in big field mile handicaps on good or better ground. There are some peaks and troughs but the overall feel I get is that you can run well from pretty much any draw.

What we see in the draw and pace combination graph is far more interesting and useful. This shows that there is a significant pace bias towards those that are held up but it also tells us that if you are held up, or race in mid division, the draw seems to have almost no impact on your chance overall. That’s not to say that in every race the low draws have the same chance as the high draws, it’s more a case of the high draws are favoured just as often as the low draws. That’s an important distinction and it’s an acknowledgement that there can be biases from race to race, but they are difficult to predict.

The other takeaway from the above graph is that prominent racers and front runners tend to perform worse when drawn higher. My guess at an explanation for that would be you tend to see slightly more runners come near side and that perhaps creates more pace pressure and competition for the lead amongst those drawn higher. That may or may not be a factor.

There may be some draw bias clues from Tuesday’s races (the second and third races in particular) but without having seen those races at the time of writing, the best clue we may get about the draw bias is to see where the pace is positioned on the track. Here is the geegeez racecard PACE map for the Royal Hunt Cup.

 

 

It is interesting that there are only two real pace angles in here and the fate of the low drawn horses may well rest with what Neil Callan decides to do aboard The Gatekeeper from stall 14. Hollie Doyle is expected to simply pop Regheeb out from stall 31 and go straight forward, near to the near side rail, but Neil Callan will either stay in the middle or go nearside (he surely won’t switch to the far side?). If he traverses to the near side then the low draws are in very big trouble as they could end up in a small group headed by Thunder Ball and all the real pace will then be near side.

So, looking at the pace map, I wouldn’t be surprised if the middle and stands’ side groups merge into one in the final few furlongs (similar to 2022) and in that year the middle-ish draws seemed to do well with draws on the flank slightly underperforming.

If The Gatekeeper comes near side then I can see lower draws struggling so I’d say the safest area of the draw might be around the 19 mark, as that covers middle and high, but I may be wrong!

I’m never keen on unproven stamina in this race and that means I’m immediately putting a line through Wild Tiger, even if stall 20 might end up the almost ideal position. I also think Real Gain might be a little too slow for this and ideally suited by further so I’m against him too.

Things finally fell right for Sonny Liston last time out for him to get an overdue success but he’s 11lbs higher than when runner up in this last year so I’ve got question marks over how well handicapped he is now. He’s in stall 19 so could be well placed.

The ground might have been a bit too testing for Coeur d’Or in the Balmoral here last season but I’d still have expected him to perform better given he wasn’t far from the pace in a race where there was a massive bias in favour of those up there early on, so I’m not convinced he’s got what it takes to win this either.

Metal Merchant surely wants softer and Streets Of Gold looks a proper 7f horse to my eye whilst Aerion Power is 5lbs higher than when 4th last year and possibly badly drawn in stall 1. That’s quite a few of the fancied horses with some sort of negative against them (in my opinion).

I do like Beshtani, given he was beaten just a short head by a subsequent winner at Epsom and gets to race here off the same mark. He looks a winner waiting to happen but I think there is a bit of risk attached backing anything drawn in single figures here, although stall 9 is obviously the highest of the single figures. This will be the fastest ground he’s faced and he was ridden fairly prominently at Epsom, which could be a negative here, but I like his general profile. If I was having a a third bet in the race, he would be it, but he’s short enough so I’m going to recommend two ‘punts’ at bigger prices.

PEROTTO was sent off favourite for this last year off a 5lb lower mark and it’s not difficult to see why. He won the 2021 Britannia Stakes off 99 and, having lost his way under Marcus Tregoning, he’d made a promising debut for Roger Varian in the Victoria Cup off a mark of just 97 and been dropped a pound since then.

He was ridden too close to the pace in last year’s race and didn’t really fire, although finishing 10th wasn’t a terrible effort. He ran better in a first time hood on his next start at Sandown when winning a good handicap off a 7lb lower mark than today. The next three home all won shortly after so that was a very good effort.

He got bogged down in soft ground in the Golden Mile at Goodwood next time (also drawn badly in that race) but still ran okay, and then he showed his true form on better ground on the round course here on Shergar Cup day, doing well to chase down the leader in a very steadily run race.

He’s gone up 3lbs for that and hasn’t been seen since as he reportedly had a setback in the Spring, but Roger Varian has stated he’s happy with him and his runners don’t normally need a racecourse outing before they show their form so he should be fit enough. Stall 17 is probably a good draw but I’d definitely be going win only as he obviously comes with risks attached.

Hopefully Tom Marquand switches him off early and allows him to come through horses and if that happens the top price of 20/1 could look very good, with the more generally available 14s and 16s just about acceptable. If going win only though, you’ll likely get a much bigger price on the Exchanges (available at 25 at the time of writing).

One at a very big price I wouldn’t mind having a small each way bet on is SILENT FILM. He’s run some decent races here in the past, finishing runner up off a 2lb higher mark in a 7f cavalry charge just under 2 years ago and finding himself too poorly placed when 4th to Perotto at the Shergar Cup over the round mile last season.

He was 2nd to Ouzo in Meydan in January, who won again next time out, and I’m particularly interested in his 10f 3rd at Epsom in April in a race where the 1st and 5th have both won since and the runner up has filled that same spot again in a big handicap on Derby day.

It does concern me that his worst efforts have all come on good to firm but all his winning has been on good so I’m not sure if that’s just a bit of a weird coincidence. Something always tends to run into the frame (at least) at 33/1+ so I wouldn’t put anyone off a small bet at that price (50/1 top price).

In summary, all draws being equal, I’d say 12/1 Beshtani is the most likely winner of this year’s renewal but in search for a little bit of ‘value’ I’m going for a small win only wager on 20/1 Perotto (will be bigger on the exchanges) and a small each way bet on 50/1 Silent Film.

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5.40 Kensington Palace Stakes (1m, Class 2 Handicap, 4yo+)

Preview by our own David Massey

Two things you really should take note of when looking at this year’s renewal of the Kensington Palace Stakes are - one, it will take place on the straight course, which isn’t usually the case; and because of that, two, you’ll have had a pretty good clue as to whether there’s any draw biases as the Hunt Cup is the race on the card before this.

I suppose there’s a third thing as well, and that’s that there’s not a lot of pace on here, not on paper at least. Timeform suggest a very strong pace, but I don’t think it will be any more than evenly run. The geegeez pace map is below with, essentially, no horse in the 'led' column (which is to say, no horse has on average led in its last three starts - Moonspirit and Doha are the closest to that profile).

 

 

Top of my list is Ed Bethell’s Elim, who was progressive on the all-weather throughout the winter of 22/23 and came back from a year’s absence to be sent off favourite for what looked, at the time, an ordinary Redcar handicap a month ago. She did nothing wrong in finishing a close fourth, travelling well but just getting a bit tired late in the piece, looking very much like the run would bring her on.

As it turns out, that handicap has worked out better than expected, with winner Ron O following up in a warm race at York last week, and second, Arctic Mountain, after winning at Lingfield on next start, being sent off a very short price from a 5lb higher mark to also win at York last week. Sadly, tack issues meant we couldn’t see whether Arctic Mountain was well handicapped or not as he didn’t complete, but what we do know is that Elim races off the same mark as Redcar and looks potentially well treated here.

The nicely-bred Summer Of Love will probably want a bit further in time, but this stiff mile will suit, and don’t be put off by the fact she’s only seen the all-weather so far. I wrote an article last week about where last-time-out winners at Ascot come from, and the all-weather - particularly Newcastle and Kempton - comes out as a positive. All the same, 8-1 looks the rock-bottom price given her form is by no means the strongest in the race, and she does need to improve again.

Instead, let’s finish off with a couple of flyers at huge prices.

Farhh To Shy is going to be a 40-1 chance, give or take, and that’s the sort of price that, for a horse that will travel as well as anything, is going to give you a bit of excitement deep into the race. Watch her finish third to Cell Sa Beela here last October - sent off 14 on Betfair, she trades 6-4 at the furlong pole and you’d think it was a matter of how far she wins by. Sadly, she finds little off the bridle, not for the first time (or the last) and she does no more than hang on for third.

It was a similar story back at Ascot here in May, where again she travelled up like a good ‘un, but found three-fifths of naff all off the snaffle, and ended up sixth after looking like a place was far more likely. In truth, she’s a back-to-lay here for those so inclined, but one of these days she’s going to win a race without coming off the bridle and if there is more pace on here than I think there is, that can only be a help.

At 66-1, Canoodled is getting a fiver each-way lobbed in her direction too. There are too many moderate efforts on her report card to be confident about her chances, but there’s no way she can be the price she is based on her fourth in the aforementioned Ascot 7f handicap that Cell Sa Beela won last season (Farhh To Shy third), beaten just half a length and if it had been a mile and not 7f, I rather suspect she might have won. You can argue it was a muddling contest but she shapes like this stiff mile on quick ground is what she wants to showcase her talents. She ran on from the back at Epsom last time to finish midfield, but that track didn’t play to her strengths at all, whereas this will.

 

6.15 Windsor Castle Stakes (5f, Listed, 2yo)

Presented by Gavin Priestley's "Festival Trends" service

Since being upgraded to Listed status in 2004 all 20 winners have been male (just 2 fillies placed from 56 runners) who had run 1-3 times (44 losers had run 4 or more times) and had run in the last 43 days (23 losers had not). They had all finished top six last time out with all 20 horses that finished 7th or worse last time out also finishing unplaced here.

Only one winner had their last run on the all-weather (from the 34 to have tried) when the maiden Flashmans Papers caused a massive shock at 100/1 in 2008. He had though made his debut on turf at Windsor.

Maiden winners aren't that uncommon however with, as well as that 2008 winner, the 1997, 1999, 2002, 2019, 2020 and last year's winner Big Evs all scoring for the first time in the Windsor Castle. It's worth noting that they had all finished either second or third last time out. The last horse to win on debut was the Sir Michael Stoute filly Dazzle who scored as the 7/2 favourite back in 1996 when the race was run as a Class 2 contest.

15 of the last 18 winners had suffered a defeat at least once in their career with all 3 exceptions coming into the race having won their only start. The last 18 runners to have won both their last two starts have been beaten with just two making the frame.

Wesley Ward has won the race twice but all of his other 15 runners have finished unplaced including his last 12 runners (he last won the race in 2014), all of his 10 fillies and 13 of his 14 runners that were 10/1 or shorter in the betting.

Shocks are common in the Windsor Castle with the aforementioned Flashmans Papers at 100/1 and Wesley Ward's Strike The Tiger at 33/1 being the biggest priced winners this century. We've also had two 16/1 winners, three 20/1 winners and a 22/1 winner since 2006.

Horses drawn 12+ have won 10 of the last 14 renewals with three of the four exceptions coming from either stall 1 or 2.

Runners from Sandown's National Stakes have a good record since 2015 (32121400) with both 2017 winner Sound And Silence at 16/1 and 2021 winner Chipotle at 22/1 having competed in that contest. In fact in 2021 the Sandown race provided the 22/1 winner and 4th at 66/1 from just two qualifiers.

Inexplicably the 2nd and 3rd from the 2023 National Stakes disappointed badly in this race last year but I'm going to keep the faith with that trial race and go with a horse that will hopefully be going the other way round i.e. run well here having disappointed badly in this year's National Stakes.

Richard Hannon's HAWAIIAN was a ready winner of a maiden first time up at Newbury despite stumbling at the start. That race couldn't have worked out much better with the runner up winning by four lengths next time, the 3rd finishing second to Epsom Woodcote scorer Teej A on his next start, the 4th winning next time out before running third in a Listed race at York and the 5th came out to run The Actor to a neck in what has turned out to be a very hot Newmarket maiden. No wonder he was sent off a short priced favourite for the National where he was no bigger than 6/5 but ran no race at all and was beaten by the furlong pole. The trainer was happy to blame the soft ground that night and if we can strike a line through that run he could be a very big price given the form of his previous effort.

I'm also going to suggest a small bet on the Kevin Ryan runner END OF STORY who was another to win a maiden that has worked out very well but flopped next time when well supported in the betting. That run came in the Woodcote at Epsom where he led for a long way but didn't seem to see out the 6f and was beaten by the time they entered the final furlong. Back to a more conventional track and over 5f I think he could be worth another chance at a massive price.

SELECTIONS: HAWAIIIAN 1/2pt EW 18/1 / END OF STORY 1/4pt EW 50/1 (4 places)

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And that's half time in our quartet of daily previews. Hopefully we've - and you've - hit the target in the first half but, if not, there are 14 more conundrums to work through on Thursday and Friday. Join us for those!

Good luck.

Matt



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Royal Ascot 2024: Day One Preview, Tips

Where does the time go? Barely a week ago, or so it seems, we were cheering home the winner of the Cheltenham varietal of the Gold Cup and now, actually three months later, the Ascot iteration is upon us. No fences, and no racecourse prefix - it is, simply, the Gold Cup - but that's not until Day 3/Thursday, the cornerstone of five sumptuous afternoons of equine action fit for a King.

There are fewer overseas challengers this season, more's the pity, and some of the races look a little weaker than standard, truth be told; but those are the negatives done with. On the plus side, it's an uber competitive week of racing with a far broader array of trainers and jockeys likely to hit the limelight than was the case in mid-March for that other showcase event. And, in the Coronation Stakes, we have what looks one of the best renewals for many a year if they all, or nearly all, stand their ground. That, again, is for another day.

To Tuesday, Day One, and an overture that comprises a trio of Group 1 contests as well as the Group 2 Coventry Stakes: music to the ears, indeed.

After the success of last year's previews, where a nasty dose of the Covid lurgy necessitated a request for some assistance, I've again called in some crack writers to share the coverage of this year's Royal meeting. Specifically, I've asked six top scribes to share their thoughts on one race each per day Tuesday to Friday, leaving the seventh for me. That made for a lovely blend of styles last year, as well as some cracking winners (headlined by Gavin Priestley's excellent 33/1 shout - freely available for some time after publication - on Bradsell), and it's also an opportunity for a few of the best tipsters around to 'show and tell' their modus operandi.

As I always say when I write these mega-posts in the big meeting weeks, it's the same amount of effort that goes into the research whether the picks win or lose; so please try to keep an eye on each contributor's 'process' - how they present their case - as well as their performance in this tiny four-races-each sample.

If you like what you read, you can check out more of their work at the links provided; but, of course, this is the geegeez.co.uk Royal Ascot preview, so allow your editor to kick things off in the Queen Anne Stakes...

2.30 Queen Anne Stakes (1m, Group 1, 4yo+)

Preview by Matt Bisogno

A straight track mile Group 1 for older horses and one that has thrown its share of shocks amidst the shorties in recent years. To wit, in the last six renewals, we've had winners at 1/6 and 2/7, as well as two 33/1 bombs, most recently Triple Time last year. There was also 14/1 Lord Glitters in that list so, in the absence of anything remotely odds-on-looking, maybe we should aim for a bold start to proceedings...

Fourteen are declared, though not Inspiral, one time ante post favourite for the race. Her red, white and blue Cheveley Park Stud silks will instead by worn by Rab Havlin on Audience. The five-year-old gelded son of Iffraaj was last seen making all in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on his first attempt at a mile. Since 2011, Canford Cliffs, Frankel, Ribchester, Palace Pier and Baaeed have all completed the Lockinge-Queen Anne double but none started bigger than 11/8 for the second leg.

Audience is quite lightly raced for a five year old - just 13 starts to date - and his best form is on decent ground which, after a lot of heavy shower chat, looks like being the prevailing terrain for Tuesday. He's a front runner typically, which was how Circus Maximus got it done in 2020 under a masterful Ryan Moore ride; but, as far as I can tell, that's the only front-running winner since at least 2008. It's just very tough to lead all the way on the straight mile in a double-figure field.

One horse who managed to do that was Big Rock, a six-length winner of the QEII Stakes in a field of eleven on British Champions Day last October. The ground there was soft and he was trained by Christopher Head, who had a strike rate of 27% in France in 2023. The ground here is good and the trainer is now Maurizio Guarnieri, who has a strike rate of 7.5% in 2024 (9/119) in France. Big Rock's owner, Yeguada Centurion, under chief decision-maker Leopoldo Fernández Pujals, removed all of their horses from Head late last year, a migration that also includes Blue Rose Cen, entered later in the week.

Neither Big Rock nor Blue Rose Cen has yet come close to matching their form under Head for new handler Guarnieri, and that is a big concern. Big Rock was sixth, 15 lengths behind Audience in the Lockinge, having been sent off an 11/4 shot. It's a leap of faith to think he can reverse placings even allowing for the fact that he fluffed the start somewhat. In any case, a cleaner break would likely have resulted in him contesting the lead with Audience, an act in favour of neither of them in terms of their win prospects.

Facteur Cheval was the closest horse to Big Rock in the QEII, and his sole start since was a short head verdict in the Group 1 Dubai Turf (1m1f, good) at Meydan in March. He held several positions during the race before just getting the best of a duel in the final furlong. As mentioned, his sire Ribchester won this race, and as well as silver here last autumn, he was an unlucky second in the G1 Sussex Stakes last summer. He is a top notcher who handles most underfoot conditions, stays a straight mile well, is tractable in terms of run style, and may have improved from four to five.

Roger Varian saddles the progressive Charyn. Third in last season's St James's Palace Stakes on the round mile at the Royal meeting, he'd started to look exposed by late summer; but this season began with back-to-back scores at Doncaster and Sandown before a runner up slot behind Audience in the Lockinge. Although the form figures look good, however, there has been no breakout in his ratings: he looks a rock solid 115 (or so) horse. Maybe that will be good enough to win this year but there is also a slight niggle about his ability to handle good to firm, should it be that quick on the opening day. He's yet to race on it and, by Dark Angel, might just be better suited to a little ease.

Maljoom was a big sectional eye-catcher in the 2022 St James's Palace Stakes, as I flagged at the time. Alas, he was then not sighted for 15 months before running down the field in the G2 Joel Stakes (1m, good to firm) at Newmarket last September. On his only subsequent run, in the Queen Anne trial race at Ascot seven weeks ago, he was too keen and taken to the front before running out of gas towards the finish. A bigger field with some pace to aim at ought to see him settle better, though that '22 SJP was not a vintage renewal (though nor especially is the '24 QA).

Hayley Turner is almost as adept at riding this straight track as Jamie Spencer, and she executed the waiting tactics to perfection when bringing Docklands with the proverbial withering run to snaffle the Britannia Handicap a year ago. They almost repeated the feat in the valuable Balmoral Handicap last autumn but didn't get the clearest transit and had to settled for third of 20; that off a 10lb higher mark. This season, Docklands has run second in a pair of Listed contests, form which doesn't obviously translate to a podium finish in a Group 1. But we know the track and trip will suit, he's ground agnostic and will be given every chance; he just might not be good enough.

It's really tricky to know what to make of Dolayli. Francis-Henri Graffard's five-year-old has been running mainly on all-weather and over further in recent times and has yet to race on a quicker turf surface than good to soft. In spite of those imponderables, his form is decent: six wins from ten lifetime starts and a length fourth in the G1 Prix Ganay last time (1m1 1/2f, soft). I'd expect Mickael Barzalona to be patient with him and, if you don't believe Big Rock's official rating (I don't), then he's very little to find with the best of the rest. But this will be quite a different examination from those he's sat hitherto.

Poker Face looks relatively exposed but did get to within a length and a quarter of Charyn in a Sandown Group 2 this season, giving the winner three pounds; on that basis alone, a price disparity of 20/1 vs 3/1 might be wrong, though it's more an argument against Charyn's price than for Poker Face's in my book. PF was another far back in the Lockinge though he did win a mile Group 2 at Longchamp last September.

We're into the long grass now, where Brave Emperor was progressing nicely, from a German G3 to an Italian G2 to a valuable Qatari stakes race. The Hong Kong Champions Mile came next, and he was well beaten - eminently forgivable - before a slightly more difficult to excuse tail end finish in the Ganay. He wasn't beaten far there and may not get nine furlongs. Archie Watson is to be noted at the Royal meeting, with five winners to his name already, including three last year; but it's not easy to see this one getting his week off to a flyer.

Third in last year's 2000 Guineas, Royal Scotsman failed to back that effort up in three subsequent Group 1 races in 2023. Dropped to Group 3 level last time, he made all in the Diomed Stakes at Epsom. His run style is normally held up, however, and I expect Jamie Spencer will revert to type - for horse and rider - here. With plenty of Group placed form as a juvenile as well, he's not completely out of the question.

Like Docklands, Witch Hunter was a handicap winner at Royal Ascot 2023, in his case over seven furlongs in the Buckingham Palace Stakes. That man Spencer did the steering on the 50/1 shot then but he's deserted the Richard Hannon-trained five-year-old in favour of Royal Scotsman.

Karl Burke sends Flight Plan, winner of a Leopardstown Group 2 (1m, good) on Irish Champions Weekend. This chap was thumped on seasonal debut in the Lockinge before a slightly more hopeful performance when 3rd in a G3 over an inadequate seven furlongs. Upped to a mile here, he should do better; but he will have to do a good bit better.

And what of Cairo? He was 2nd in the Irish 2000 Guineas last spring when trained by Aidan O'Brien; but his best efforts since were a neck defeat to Brave Emperor in Doha and, since changing to the Alice Haynes yard, 2nd in a Listed race over a mile and a furlong at Leopardstown last time. He was unlucky in running there, without suggesting it would have changed the result, and he could conceivably travel well through the first half of the race. He has a good bit to find on the figures though.

And rounding out the field is Hi Royal. My first instinct was to strike a line through this fella's chance, but then a couple of things caught my eye. Firstly, he's a four-year-old and remains a colt where plenty in this field have been de-tackled. Second, and more interesting, is the record of his trainer Kevin Ryan with older horses at Royal Ascot. Since 2013, he's sent out 21 four- or five-year-olds that went off 33/1 or shorter. Six of them won and another four were placed. Of course, one of that sextet was 33/1 Queen Anne winner Triple Time twelve months ago.

 

 

As I write, Hi Royal is 66/1 so wouldn't fit the 'system' criteria, but he has a run two back that gives him a bit of a form squeak in any case. That was in the G3 Earl of Sefton over nine furlongs at Newmarket, where he was just run down late on. The drop back to a mile in the Lockinge last time saw him get closer than a number of better fancied rivals here having been agitated in the stalls and possibly losing his race there. He's ridden here, as he was at Newbury, by a certain Ryan Moore and I'm inclined to think he's worthy of a tiny speculative wager.

Queen Anne Summary

The opening race of Royal Ascot 2024, the Queen Anne Stakes, is a real headscratcher. The best form line by a way is Big Rock's G1 course and distance score last October; but the horse has run only once since - very moderately - and that on his debut for a new stable that generally fires at a much lower level, in terms of both quality and strike rate, than his previous conditioners. Taking Big Rock out of the equation, Audience recorded a breakout effort last time in the G1 Lockinge on his first try at a mile. It's possible he could continue to progress at the new trip but his run style - going from the front - is similar to Big Rock's and also Brave Emperor's on a track and at a trip that rarely favours contested early speed.

 

 

The solid one is Facteur Cheval, who comes here off the back of a Group 1 win, albeit over nine furlongs and in Dubai; but he can back that up with placed efforts in four straight European G1's beforehand. Therein lies his problem: he does tend to find one too good and, at a price unforgiving of such a trait, he may again frustrate win players. Meanwhile, Charyn has hit a winning groove and some consistency in his performance ratings: they're unsexy but might be good enough. I just don't like his price.

Bits and pieces of place cases can be made for almost all of the rest and it might be a race to bet a couple of rags at massive prices. Better that than have a good win bet on a fancied horse that finishes second in my book. As I say, you can almost pays your money and takes your chance, so it is in that "I'm sorry, I haven't a clue" context that I offer most tentatively 20/1 Royal Scotsman who comes here off a win and was 3rd in the 2022 Coventry; and 66/1 Hi Royal whose price demands a nicker each way - four places at least!

It will at least get ever so slightly easier on occasion after this...

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3.05 Coventry Stakes (6f, Group 2, 2yo)

Presented by John Burke's "Victor Value" service

First run in 1890 and named after the 9th Earl of Coventry, the Coventry Stakes is arguably the premier juvenile race at Royal Ascot. Winners of this race often go on to compete in higher-profile events later in their careers. Notable recent winners include Caravaggio (2016), Buratino (2015), War Command (2013), Dawn Approach (2012) and Canford Cliffs (2009).

Key Trends (Last 5 Years):

Previous Runs: All five winners and 14 of the 15 placed horses had run once or twice before the Coventry.

Trainer: Archie Watson has had 1 winner from 5 runners with 3 places, yielding an each-way return of +£8.80.

Draw Bias: Recent winners were drawn in stalls 3, 6, 17, 2, and 6, suggesting a slight preference for low to mid draws.

Top Contenders:

Camille Pissarro (Aidan O’Brien) - Impressive debut winner at Navan; narrowly beaten (a head) in the Group 3 Marble Hill last time. Strong credentials for top connections and likely to handle quicker ground well.

Cowardofthecounty (Joseph O’Brien) - Battled well to win on debut on soft to heavy ground at the Curragh. Needs to prove himself on a quicker surface but is open to plenty of improvement if he does.

Midnight Strike (Joseph O’Brien) - Stylish winner on debut; third in the Marble Hill (half a length behind Camille Pissarro) last time. Should be competitive if adapting to quicker ground conditions. Oisin Murphy is booked for the ride. Stablemate of Cowardofthecounty.

Andesite (Karl Burke) - Overcame greenness to win a York novice on debut last month, with the form holding up well. Ascot’s stiffer track could play to his strengths, and he’s the sole Karl Burke runner in the line-up.

Catalyse (Richard Fahey) - Easy debut winner at Hamilton 16 days ago. Steps up in class but looks open to significant improvement and is the pick of retained jockey James Doyle.

Electrolyte (Archie Watson) - Comfortable winner at Ayr on debut, handles good ground well. Solid contender despite retained jockey James Doyle opting for Catalyse. A good each-way contender for a trainer with an excellent race record.

Arran (Paul & Oliver Cole) - Front-running winner at Newmarket on debut in April; form boosted by subsequent winners. Has potential for further improvement and is another with each-way claims.

Coventry Stakes Verdict

The Coventry Stakes is always an exciting race, and this year is no exception. Among the favourites, I prefer Cowardofthecounty over Camille Pissarro. However, considering the current odds, I see the value in backing Andesite and Electrolyte.

Betting Advice: Initially, I considered Electrolyte for an each-way bet, but I've decided to keep Andesite onside as well.

Electrolyte: £3 each way at 28/1 (William Hill & bet365, paying 5 places)
Andesite: £11 win at 9/1

I wouldn't recommend taking lower odds than these. However, if Electrolyte places, a small profit is gained.

 

 

3.45 King Charles III Stakes (5f, Group 1, 3yo+)

Presented by Gavin Priestley's "Festival Trends" service

We have had 11 winners from the 27 renewals of the Kings Stand, now King Charles III Stakes, since 1997 that have been trained outside of the UK and Ireland (France, America, Hong Kong, Spain and Australia) making it the most 'international' race run at Royal Ascot in the last quarter of a century. This year Ascot has attracted a single overseas runner, Asfoora from Australia. Ireland's contribution in that time period consists only of dual winner Sole Power who is the one Irish-trained horse to win the Kings Charles III from the 33 runners to have tried; but I'm banking on that all changing this year with one of my best bets of the meeting.

VALIANT FORCE did me and my subscribers a big favour at this meeting last year when winning the Norfolk at an enormous price (150/1) and I think he can follow Bradsell's lead from this race 12 months ago and come back to win the Kings Charles III as a 3yo having won a 2yo race at the Royal meeting the previous year. He's been on my radar for this ever since that win last year and this 5f speedster has done little to change my mind in four starts since. He flopped on his run prior to the Norfolk last season when tried over 6f and found his stamina stretched again over that trip when trying the Group 1 Prix Morny on his first run after the Norfolk when only 5th to Vandeek.

We didn't see him again until the Breeders Cup when, back down to 5f from a wide draw, he flew home to get beat just 1/2 length by Big Evs, closing on the winner all the way to the line. He stayed in America after that run to join Jorge Delgado where he ran 2nd over 5f on turf and 4th over 6f on dirt earlier this year. He's recently re-joined Adrian Murray and makes his first start this side of the pond since the Morny run and first run for 94 days. There have been plenty of winners of this race coming off a break including the 3yo Dominica in 2002 who won on seasonal debut.

In one of the poorest renewals of the King Charles III for many a year (there's been at least one runner in the field rated 115+ since at least 2007), with just 3lb splitting the top eight runners on official ratings, he won't be lacking in class and has nothing to find with the favourite on that run at the Breeders' Cup last year, where he travelled noticeably further than the winner.

With the ground in his favour, the stable in form and a good draw (five of the last seven winners were drawn 10+) I think he has an excellent chance of repeating his course and distance win from last year.

SELECTION: VALIANT FORCE (EW) at 16/1 general / 12/1 6 places Skybet

 

4.25 St James's Palace Stakes (1m, Group 1, 3yo)

Presented by Josh Wright from "Racing To Profit"

To race four we hurtle and hopefully by this stage my esteemed blogging colleagues have got us off to a flyer. This preview is rather unoriginal in that I cannot see past the favourite, Notable Speech, who at 11/8 still looks good value to my eyes, but as I type that price is vanishing.

Before talking about the race in more depth, allow me to share some content that may be useful more generally, whatever the result of this race.

In what follows, I've had a look at all Royal Ascot Group 1s, for 3YOs only.

Since 2010, those horses officially rated 121+ (Notable Speech 122, next in 118) are 6 winners from 12 runners, 8 have placed (including all winners), for a Betfair SP Actual vs Expected of 1.17. Remarkably, they’re still performing above market expectations.

If we go back to the start of 2008 and look at Royal Ascot / Group 1s / 3YO Only / Top Rated on Official Ratings…
54 bets / 20 wins / 31 places (incl. wins) / 37% sr / +22 SP / +32 BFSP / BFAE 1.37

Not bad. Looking at those sent off 10/1 or shorter SP improves those figures to 20/47, 31p, +39 BFSP, and at the last three meetings, 6/9,8p, +16 BFSP.

Within those criteria, if we just focus on those that finished in the first two on their last start…
32 bets / 16 wins / 22 places / 50% sr / +27 SP / +34 BFSP / BFAE 1.47

This is a decent little micro angle to keep onside at the Royal meeting moving forwards, with this race, the Commonwealth Cup and the Coronation Stakes the 3YO races in focus.

Moving back to the St James's Palace Stakes...

Notable Speech – of course he hits this micro angle, and indeed horses in this race who were sent off favourite having been last seen winning the 2000 Guineas, are 2/3, 3p. Charlie Appleby has saddled two SJP favourites: Pinatubo, who finished 2nd, and last year’s winner Coroebus, sent off 10/11 fav. Notable Speech may end up such a price.

At the previous five Royal Ascot meetings it has paid to keep Charlie Appleby and William Buick close, especially with horses aged three and who won their last start… 4/12,7p, +11 BFSP.

The yard enters this week in blistering form: in the last 14 days, 4/10, 6p, 79% of rivals beaten, against a 365 day average of 66%. It’s not a bad time for the string the come alive!

The horse… it was hard not to be impressed by Notable Speech at Newmarket on his turf debut. He’d previously had three races on the AW, easily winning a conditions stakes at Kempton on his penultimate start, a performance which had the clock watchers and sectional timing maestros purring. In the 2000 Guineas, he settled very well, looked straightforward, and had to get himself into the race on the far side, on the wing, moving up effortlessly and putting the race to bed in a matter of strides. I suspect were he following Rosallion through that race he’d have been even more impressive. It was visually stunning and of course he’s still open to stacks of improvement.

He knows how to race around a bend from his Kempton sorties and has tactical speed – that could be a big advantage here in a race which doesn’t look likely to be strongly run, on paper anyway! Buick may not want to be as far back as he was at Newmarket, but he appears the sort who can race wherever his jockey wishes to place him, given his change of gears and the ease with which he moves through a race. This will be the fastest ground Notable Speech has faced, which is an unknown, but of course he may relish it. That is the only chink I think those opposing him may cling to.

However I’m struggling to find a negative or a substantive reason from which to oppose him. He’s the best horse on all the figures and brings the best piece of recent form to the table, Rosallion subsequently winning the Irish 2000 Guineas, having got closest to Notable Speech at Newmarket. Richard Hannon’s charge is the best he’s trained apparently, but I can’t see why he overturns the form here, assuming Notable Speech runs his race, of course. He has his own questions if this is a slow pace, as he can take a firm grip and will need to settle. Maybe he will be chasing the favourite home again, and the forecast, or reverse forecast could be a way to play, if wishing to get involved for interest.

Aidan O’Brien always has the capacity to crash the party, his Henry Longfellow currently third in the market as I type. The fast ground is an unknown to him, and there's a chance he may have preferred rain. With his trainer expecting him to leave behind his poor effort in French 2000 Guineas on 12th May, maybe the Ballydoyle team will have transformed Henry as they did City of Troy! On pedigree he should improve plenty for this 1m trip, but he needs to. I would like to think he’ll be battling it out for 2nd place with Rosallion, but I suppose this game is rarely that straightforward! We shall see.

I’m firmly in the NOTABLE SPEECH camp, which may be very unoriginal but I’m minded not to be overly creative for the sake of it. I think the latter two mentioned need the favourite to underperform, and the others require all the top three to have an off day, or to themselves step forward considerably on the evidence to date. The favourite could make 11/8 look value, if you don’t mind a short price. In any case, do note some of the stats above, as they’re sure to help you land on a few winners moving forward, whether during the rest of this week, or next year!

 

'Ever fancied owning a share in a racehorse? Josh now has 11 horses in training and over 170 shareholders.

Keep informed by joining his Racing To Profit Syndicate email list for free, HERE>>>

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If you're betting placepots or jackpots (or quadpots or Scoop6) at Royal Ascot, you're much better off using Tix - it's free so check it out today!

 

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5.05 Ascot Stakes (2m4f, Class 2, 4yo+ Handicap)

Preview by our own David Massey 

It would be easy enough, given that Ahorsewithnoname won this for Nicky Henderson last year, to think that this is a race dominated by jumps trainers; but that’s not really the case given Andrew Balding, Alan King and Ian Williams, twice, were also winners of this in the past five years. Granted, King and Williams are dual-purpose, but you get the drift.

The Irish trainers dominate the market this year, with Mullins, Elliott, O’Leary (sister of the suspended Tony Martin) and Jarlath Fahey training the first four in the betting; and, whilst the unexposed My Lyka is going to garner the majority of interest on what is only his second start for Willie, of that front four, if you had to have your house on one to run his race, it would have to be Pied Piper.

Far better known as a top-quality hurdler, he’s still a useful tool on the Flat and ran a cracker to be second to The Shunter in the Cesarewitch last autumn, staying on all the way to the line. He was trying to give the winner 2lb there, and it was merely another excellent effort in a raft of competitive handicaps, Flat and hurdles, that he regularly contends.

It’s worth remembering his sixth place finish in this two years ago when he didn’t get the best of runs: whilst by no means an unlucky loser, he’d surely have gone closer with a clear passage. He was trying to give winner, future Group 1 horse Coltrane, 3lb taking into account Callum Hutchinson’s 5lb on the day, hardly a shoddy effort.

Those looking for something at a bigger price might consider the evergreen Tritonic and another of the Irish contingent, Nusret.

Tritonic was third in this last year and is 5lb lower this time around. Two runs this season have been no more than satisfactory, although the sprint for the line at Southwell last time after they crawled through the race would definitely not have suited him. The question is whether he still wants to do it at the age of seven, and it’s a fair question to ask; but he’s got his conditions today, and maybe the reapplication of cheekpieces might just buck his ideas up. He has a decent draw to work from and could keep drifting in the market, as he’s not a sexy selection at all, so don’t worry if you don’t get BOG from your bookie - back it at Betfair SP.

Nusret is a useful dual-purpose sort for Joseph O’Brien and ran respectably when fifth at the Punchestown Festival, sticking well to his task in a Listed Handicap Hurdle. It’s worth remembering how very easily he won the Race To The Ebor Handicap at the Curragh last June; despite having to wait, and wait again, for the gap to appear, once it did he quickened through it and won a very comfortable half a length, looking like there was a lot left in the tank. He ran to a similar level at Leopardstown next time, the slight drop back in trip counting against him, and whilst this extreme stamina test is something new to him, he’s worth a crack at it. A mark of 91 is very workable if he stays.

 

5.40 Wolferton Stakes (1m2f, Listed, 4yo+)

Preview by Rory Delargy

The complicating factor for me in the Wolferton is the presence of my punting bête noire, Checkandchallenge, in the field. The son of Fast Company was last behind Mqse de Sevigne in the Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan last time, but was beaten less than 3¾ lengths in a tactical race, and the sixth that day, Marhaba Ya Sanafi, won a Group 3 at the weekend. William Knight has never had his horses in better form, and I can feel the inexorable cliff-horse pull. Must. Resist. Temptation.

Phew, that was close.

The draw is always worth a look at Ascot, irrespective of trip, and while this is a relatively new race at the meeting, there have been enough runnings to make a judgment. Despite the layout of the track suggesting low numbers should have the best of it, that hasn’t been the case, and the only horse to win from one of the two lowest stalls in the race’s history was 13/8 favourite Rainbow Peak in 2010 (he was drawn 16 of 16 back in 2010 before the numbering method changed). High numbers, especially those held up, can also struggle, though three winners in the last decade have come from stall 12.

In terms of pace, no horse has made all since 2006 when the race was run as a handicap, but even hold up horses can find trouble on the run to the bend with three getting the in-running comment “badly hampered” last year. Ideally, you want a horse with the relative early speed to take a handy position behind the leaders and be able to make a move early in the straight.

With the ability to cope with firmish ground (the ground will be quickening throughout the day) a prerequisite, it’s easy to make a shortlist and, being brutal about it, I’m down to two horses fairly quickly. Israr stands out in terms of recent form and race conditions, while he’s got the ideal run style to give him every chance. As such he’s a deserving favourite, and I’d not put anyone off his chances.

The other on my short list is Astro King who can be forgiven a rare below-par effort over 1½m at Newmarket last time. Twice placed at this meeting for Sir Michael Stoute, he’s an improved performer for current connections and ran a cracker to be second in the Group 3 Earl of Sefton Stakes on his return to the UK in April.

Both of Astro King’s wins for Daniel & Clare Kubler have come on good to firm ground and he is better at 1m1f/1¼m than a mile. His stall is the same one that Contributer, Addeybb and Royal Champion have scored from, and he should get a nice tow into the race from habitual front-runner Cemhaan, making him look a decent each-way bet at around 14/1.

Recommended: 1pt e/w Astro King @ 14/1 (general – 4 places)

 

6.15 Copper Horse Stakes (1m6f, Class 2 Handicap, 4yo+)

Presented by Sam Darby's "Winning Post Profits" service

This is still a relatively new race with only four previous renewals and, with this course and distance generally only seeing small field races during the rest of the year, draw and pace data remains relatively sparse. What data we do have (Geegeez Gold racecards, PACE tab) suggests that there is a slight advantage being drawn lower and you probably don’t want to be miles off the pace.

 

 

There doesn’t look to be much pace contention with A Piece Of Heaven probably the sole forward-going type. That factor, and the tendency for prominent racers to be advantaged, suggests anything that is held up in the rear here is going to need to be extremely well-handicapped, and lucky in the run, to win.

 

 

It’s difficult to make strong conclusions from the limited draw data but when sorting the dividual draw data table (Geegeez Gold racecards, DRAW tab) by PRB3 it seems telling that the top performing berths are the nine single-figure stalls and the seven worst performers are the double-figure stalls.

Stall 14 has previously won so it’s not as though we can just put a line through the higher draws, but we can probably slightly mark up those who have a lower stall.

On to the runners…

I’m always a little frustrated by these staying handicaps at Ascot as Willie Mullins tends to farm them with horses that are almost impossible to back. That said, I’m looking to bet him in one later in the week!

Generally they have little to no flat form in this country and often have something to prove on fast ground and over the trip they are running. This year’s favourite is slightly different, though. Belloccio is pretty exposed, having run fifteen times on the flat in the UK for David Menuisier. If you were building a profile for the horse from those runs you’d say he was a top handicapper around Kempton (Listed winner) but not a turf horse at all having beaten only ten rivals home in his last eight flat turf runs. If he was still with his old trainer he’d likely be an outsider for this.

So the big question is how magical is Willie Mullins at transforming horses? Belloccio won a maiden hurdle on his only start for his new trainer with a winning margin of nine lengths so suddenly things look more positive in regards to running on turf but I still have strong reservations. The runner up from that race was beaten three times as far next time out at the same level and the third was pulled up on his next start. Despite the impressive winning margin, a poor maiden hurdle score doesn’t necessarily prove he’s thrown in off a mark of 100 here.

He’s also seemingly been kept away from fast ground throughout his career which is another reason he’s opposable. Mullins had the one-two in this last year but if he ever had a runner at Royal Ascot that is opposable it's this horse. I’m not saying he can’t win, but I am saying he’s a terrible price.

Fox Journey is a horse I followed last year and his last run over this trip was an excellent 3rd in the Melrose Handicap behind Middle Earth. He seemingly took his form to a whole new level on his first start this season when winning a 12f handicap by 11 lengths, and the handicapper could have been a lot harsher than giving him only a 9lb rise for that. I have suspicions about the strength of that form so I’m not sure how well handicapped he is now but he at least seems to have conditions in his favour so could go well.

A Piece Of Heaven is another who won easily last time out and he showed plenty of versatility dropping back to 12f, having previously won over two miles. This looks a much tougher race than the last two he’s won and he’s gone up a total of 16lbs for those so I wouldn’t be especially quick to back him from stall 18, even if he could get across and secure an easy lead.

The one I like the most is Bague D’Or, but by the time you read this he’s probably going to have been balloted out of the race as he’s the first reserve at the time of writing. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that there’s a non-runner before the cut off because he remains unexposed at this trip with form figures of 1121 on good or better ground, including a course and distance success. His only defeat at 14f on decent ground came at the hands of Trawlerman, who went on to win the Ebor on his next start and subsequently rate 21lbs higher (and is a warm fancy in the Gold Cup market).

Bague D’Or won at Newmarket on his first start this season, in pretty comfortable fashion, and he can race mid-division to prominent so should be well placed in this from stall 9 if he does get a run. On the assumption he doesn’t get a run, we need a backup selection and conveniently there is a runner in this who was just two lengths behind Bague D’Or last time at Newmarket and is now 4lbs better off. That runner is Intinso and if the first time tongue tie can help with his habitual keenness he could have a massive chance here.

If both Bague D’Or and Intinso get to run I still prefer the former (they are both around the 12/1 to 14/1 mark) but you could argue that Intinso has a great chance of reversing Newmarket form. Intinso was probably unsuited by leading that day so can potentially be marked up a little and he’s also more lightly raced than Bague D’Or so could improve further, especially if settling better.

Intinso has run three decent races this year, winning easily at Wolverhampton before finding a tactical race over 11f at Kempton a bit too much, but he still stayed on into 3rd, doing best of those not up with the pace throughout. Then last time out he probably could have done with a lead when beaten by Bague D’Or.

He’s drawn in stall 2 and if he can settle on the rail, just behind A Piece Of Heaven, he may be ideally positioned turning for home and could be seen to very best effect. It’s also worth noting that Amtiyaz, who won this for the same connections in 2021, is a half-brother to Intinso.

So, to summarise, I’m pretty keen on an each way wager on 14/1 BAGUE D’OR if he does get a run (stakes returned if balloted out); but, in the likelihood he doesn’t get in, I’ll be having a small bet on 14/1 INTINSO instead at the same sort of price.

 

Sam Darby's Winning Post Profits

 

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And that's how our team sees the opening day of the 2024 Royal Ascot meeting. Lots of prices to go at and perfectly possible to have a complete wipeout, but one winner will likely cover the losers. Be lucky, and keep some powder dry for the battles to come!

Matt



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2024 Royal Ascot Betting Trends – Day One (Tues 18th June)

More top action in June as the horse racing bandwagon turns its attention to the 2024 Royal Ascot Meeting. The five-day meeting (Tues 18th to Sat 22nd June 2024) is always one of the highlights on the flat racing calendar.

Like all big race days, here at GEEGEEZ we've got it all covered with key trends and stats - use these trends to narrow down the field and find the best past profiles of recent winners.

Royal Ascot Trends - Day One, Tuesday 18th June 2024

2.30 - Queen Anne Stakes (British Champions Series) (Group 1) (CLASS 1) (4yo+) 1m ITV

Recent Queen Anne Stakes Winners

2023 – Triple Time 33/1
2022 – Baaeed (1/6 fav)
2021 – Palace Pier (2/7 fav)
2020 – Circus Maximus (4/1 fav)
2019 – Lord Glitters (14/1)
2018 – Accidental Agent (33/1)
2017 – Ribchester (11/10 fav)
2016 – Tepin (11/2)
2015 – Solow (11/8 fav)
2014 – Toronado (4/5 fav)
2013 – Declaration Of War (15/2)
2012 – Frankel (1/10 fav)
2011 – Canford Cliffs (11/8)
2010 – Goldikova (11/8 fav)
2009 – Paco Boy (10/3)
2008 – Haradasun (5/1)
2007 – Ramonti (5/1)
2006 – Ad Valorem (13/2)
2005 – Valixir (4/1)
2004 – Refuse To Bend (12/1)
2003 – Dubai Destination (9/2)
2002 – No Excuse Needed (13/2)

Queen Anne Stakes Trends

21/22 – Aged 4 or 5 years-old
19/22 – Previous winners over 1 mile
17/22 – Had between 1 and 2 previous runs that season
17/22 – Returned 13/2 or shorter in the betting
16/22 – Had already won a Group 1 race
16/22 – Won by a 4 year-old
15/22 - Returned 11/2 or shorter in the betting
11/22 – Trained by either R Hannon (3), A P O’Brien (4) or owned by Godolphin (4)
11/22 – Ran in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last time out
11/22 – Had never run at Ascot before
10/22 – Won their previous race
10/22 – Favourites that were unplaced
8/22 – Winning favourites

Godolphin have won the race 8 times in total
Only 2 winners from Stall 1 in the last 16 runnings
13 of the last 16 winners came from stalls 4 or higher

 

3.05 - Coventry Stakes (Group 2) (CLASS 1) (2yo) 6f ITV

Recent Coventry Stakes Winners

2023 – River Tiber (11/8 fav)
2022 – Bradsell (8/1)
2021 – Berkshire Shadow (11/1)
2020 – Nando Parrado (150/1)
2019 – Arizona (15/8 fav)
2018 – Calyx (2/1 fav)
2017 – Rajasinghe (11/1)
2016 – Caravaggio (13/8 fav)
2015 – Buratino (6/1)
2014 – The Wow Signal (5/1 jfav)
2013 – War Command (20/1)
2012 – Dawn Approach (7/2)
2011 – Power (4/1 fav)
2010 – Strong Suit (15/8 fav)
2009 – Canford Cliffs (7/4 fav)
2008 – Art Connoisseur (8/1)
2007 – Henrythenavigator (11/4 fav)
2006 – Hellvelyn (4/1 jfav)
2005 – Red Clubs (11/2)
2004 – Iceman (5/1 jfav)
2003 – Three Valleys (7/1)
2002 – Statue Of Liberty (16/1)

Coventry Stakes Trends

21/22 – Won their previous race
20/22 – Had never raced at Ascot before
19/22 – Had between 1 and 2 previous career runs
18/22 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
17/22 - Foaled in either Feb or March
16/22 - Came from the top three in the betting
13/22 – Won over 6f before
11/22 – Winning favourites (3 joint)
8/22 – Ran at either Newbury or Newmarket last time out
7/22 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
4/22 - Ridden by Ryan Moore (4 of the last 13)
2/22 – Trained by Richard Hannon
1/22 - Won by a Jan foal
13 of the last 16 winners came from stalls 6 or higher
8 of the last 16 winners came from stalls 9-19 (inc)

3.45 - King Charles III Stakes (Group 1) (CLASS 1) (3yo+) 5f ITV

Recent King Charles III Stakes Winners

Known as King's Stand Stakes prior to 2024

2023 – Bradsell (14/1)
2022 – Nature Strip (9/4)
2021 – Oxted (4/1)
2020 – Battaash (5/6 fav)
2019 – Blue Point (5/2)
2018 – Blue Point (6/1)
2017 – Lady Aurelia (7/2)
2016 – Profitable (4/1)
2015 – Goldream (20/1)
2014 – Sole Power (5/1)
2013 – Sole Power (8/1)
2012 - Little Bridge (12/1)
2011 - Prohibit (7/1)
2010 - Equiano (9/2)
2009 - Scenic Blast (11/4 fav)
2008 - Equiano (22/1)
2007 - Miss Andretti (3/1 fav)
2006 - Takeover Target (7/1)
2005 - Chineur (7/1)
2004 - The Tatling (8/1)
2003 – Choisir (25/1)

King Charles III Stakes Trends

21/22 – Aged 7 or younger
20/22 – Had won a Group race before
18/22 – Aged 4 or older
18/22 – Had won over 5f before
16/22 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
14/22 – Finished first or second last time out
14/22 – Had run at Ascot before (9 had won at the track)
12/22 – Favourites placed
12/22 – Won by a non-UK based trained horse
6/22 – Ran at either Flemington (3) or Chantilly (3) last time out
6/22 – Favourites that finished third
4/22 – Won by an Australian-trained horse
4/22 – Winning favourites
4/22 – 3 Year-old winners

A horse from stalls 9, 11 & 14 has been placed in 14 of the last 16 runnings

 

4.25 - St James´s Palace Stakes (Group 1) (Entire Colts) (CLASS 1) (3yo) 1m ITV4

Recent St James’s Palace Stakes Winners

2023 – Paddington (11/5)
2022 – Coroebus (10/11 fav)
2021 – Poetic Flare (7/2 fav)
2020 – Palace Pier (4/1)
2019 – Circus Maximus (10/1)
2018 – Without Parole (9/4 fav)
2017 – Barney Roy (5/2)
2016 – Galileo Gold (6/1)
2015 – Gleneagles (8/15 fav)
2014 – Kingman (8/11 fav)
2013 – Dawn Approach (5/4 fav)
2012 – Most Improved (9/1)
2011 – Frankel (3/10 fav)
2010 – Canford Cliffs (11/4 jfav)
2009 – Mastercraftsman (5/6 fav)
2008 – Henrythenavigator (4/7 fav)
2007 – Excellent Art (8/1)
2006 – Araafa (2/1 fav)
2005 – Shamardal (7/4 fav)
2004 – Azamour (9/2)
2003 - Zafeen (8/1)
2002 – Rock Of Gibraltar (4/5 fav)

St James’s Palace Stakes Trends

22/22 - Returned 10/1 or shorter in the betting
19/22 – Favourites that were placed
19/22 – Had won over a mile before
17/22 – Had either 2 or 3 previous runs that season
17/22– Previous Group 1 or 2 winners
15/22 – Previous Group 1 winners
15/22 – Returned 3/1 or shorter in the betting
13/22 – Winning favourites (1 joint)
13/22 – Won their previous race
11/22 – Ran in the Irish 2000 Guineas (Curragh) last time out (8 won it)
10/22 – Irish-trained winners
7/22 – Won by trainer Aidan O’Brien
6/22 – Had run at Ascot before

Just 3 winners from stall 1 or 2 in the last 16 runnings
6 of the last 16 winners came from stalls 4 or 5

5.05 - Ascot Stakes (Handicap) (CLASS 2) (4yo+ 0-95) 2m4f ITV4

Ascot Stakes Recent Winners

2023 – Ahorsewithnoname (7/1)
2022 – Coltrane (14/1)
2021 – Reshoun (66/1)
2020 – Coeur De Lion (16/1)
2019 – The Grand Visir (12/1)
2018 – Lagostovegas (10/1)
2017 – Thomas Hobson (4/1 fav)
2016 – Jennies Jewel (6/1)
2015 – Clondaw Warrior (5/1 fav)
2014 – Domination (12/1)
2013 – Well Sharp (9/1)
2012 – Simenon (8/1)
2011 – Veiled (11/2)
2010 – Junior (17/2)
2009 – Judgethemoment (13/2)
2008 – Missoula (20/1)
2007 – Full House (20/1)
2006 – Baddam (33/1)
2005 – Leg Spinner (9/1)
2004 – Double Obsession (25/1)
2003 – Sindapour (12/1)
2002 – Riyadh (7/1 fav)

Ascot Stakes Trends

19/22 – Carried 9-0 or more
16/22 – Had at least 1 previous run on the flat that season
16/22 – Won by a stable better known for their NH runners
15/22 – Had won over at least 2m on the flat before
12/22 – Aged either 4 or 5 years-old
12/22 – Returned a double-figure price in the betting
9/22 – Won their previous race
4/22 – Trained by Willie Mullins (4 of the last 12)
3/22 – Trained by the Pipe stable
3/22 – Ridden by Ryan Moore (3 of the last 12)
3/22 – Winning favourites
2/22 – Trained by Ian Williams

Just one winner (or placed) horse from stall 1 placed in the last 16 runnings

 

5.40 - Wolferton Rated Stakes (Listed Race) (CLASS 1) (4yo+ 0-110) 1m2f ITV4

Wolferton Rated Stakes Recent Winners

2023 – Royal Champion (16/1)
2022 – Dubai Future (20/1)
2021 – Juan Elcano (14/1)
2020 – Mountain Angel (8/1)
2019 – Addeybb (5/1)
2018 – Monarchs Glen (8/1)
2017 – Snoano (25/1)
2016 – Sir Isaac Newton (7/1)
2015 – Mahsoob (7/4 fav)
2014 – Contributer (9/1)
2013 – Forgotten Voice (12/1)
2012 – Gatewood (3/1 fav)
2011 – Beachfire (12/1)
2010 – Rainbow Peak (13/8 fav)
2009 – Perfect Stride (8/1)
2008 – Supaseus (12/1)
2007 – Championship Point (25/1)
2006 – I’m So Lucky (16/1)
2005 – Imperial Stride (25/1)
2004 – Red Fort (6/1)
2003 – In Time’s Eye (5/1)

Wolferton Rated Stakes Key Trends

16/21 – Had between 1 and 3 runs already that season
16/21 – Finished unplaced last time out
15/21 – Had won 3 or more races during their career
14/21 – Had won over 1m2f or further before
13/21 – Aged 4 years-old
12/21 – Had run at Ascot before
11/21 – Unplaced favourites
11/21 – Returned a double-figure price
7/21 – Ran at either York (4) or Goodwood (3) last time out
4/21 – Trained by John Gosden (4 of last 13)
4/21 – Trained at Kremlin House Stables (Roger Varian/M Jarvis)
2/21 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
2/21 – Winning favourites
14 of the last 18 winners returned 7/1 or bigger
4 of the last 8 winners came from stall 5

 

6.15 - Copper Horse Handicap (4yo+) 1m6f ITV4

Just four previous runnings
Vauban won the race in 2023
Get Shirty won the race in 2022
4/4 – Carried 9-1 or more
4/4 – Aged between 4-6 (2 winners aged 6)
2/4 – Winning favourite
Trainer Willie Mullins won this race in 2023
Trainer David O’Meara won this race in 2022
Trainer John Gosden won this race in 2021
Trainer Roger Varian won this race in 2020

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Taking on the World at Royal Ascot

There are plenty of ways to wager the Royal meeting. With bookmakers offering 'happy hour' enhanced odds, significant extended places each way, and a top hat-ful of specials and concessions, shopping around the firms is an obvious place to start. In his excellent Money Without Work series on geegeez, pro player Russ Clarke outlined the maths associated with bookie concessions and this is a must read for anyone even faintly serious about trying to come out in front. The series is here, and of specific relevance are parts 4 and 5; if you've not read those, go ahead and do that now - I'll wait 😉

That, of course, is if you can still get on with the bookies. Restrictions, the bane of millions of regular racing bettors, mean that such offers are a frustrating cocked snook: "I have thee not, and yet I see thee still".

Alternatives to traditional bookmakers

Happily, Royal Ascot is a meeting of global importance which bestows upon it more wagering pounds and dollars - Hong Kong, Australian, United States and other brands - than any other meeting in the British calendar. The eyes and wallets of the world are trained on these five days and that presents rare opportunity. Liquidity in UK racing markets is an ongoing challenge: the sharks have decimated the little fish on betting exchanges, and the dear old nanny goat (tote) continues to suffer from a historic lack of investment and promotion under previous stewardships. But both fight back during Royal Ascot week.

Exchanges

On Betfair, top sporting events bring far greater liquidity: backers and layers alike are prepared to risk more capital when they believe the playing field is even. So the exchanges are unquestionably a value option during a meeting like this, especially for win only players.

Keeping an eye on three price lists at once is not for everyone, but it can be a rewarding practice. In reality, of course, it is unlikely that starting price will be the best of the trio of SP, exchange SP and tote return; so unless you've played early with the Best Odds Guaranteed concession it's going to be a straight shoot out between 'the machine' and the nanny.

Their respective markets will be capitalised differently meaning different horses will be better or worse value in each. Here's why. Betfair, the major exchange player (though certainly not the only one in Royal Ascot week), does not allow the world to bet into a single win pool. So it is that UK and Irish punters will bet into one instance, and some overseas jurisdictions will bet into another: each will return a different SP for the race. Materially, plenty of geographies will be unable to (legally) bet on an exchange at all.

Tote / World Pool

Meanwhile, tote offers us World Pool. In partnership with a majority of the biggest international racing countries, including the aforementioned Hong Kong (whose ball it is that everyone plays with), Australia, US, Japan and on, World Pool means millions of quids and bucks and yens and euros are wagered into a single pot.

What that means is that there are blind spots in the markets. Much of the World Pool liquidity emanates from Hong Kong where, it's fair to say, they like a bet. But, as infrequent players on UK gee-gees, the general level of familiarity is commensurately sketchy. I hark back to some formative Saturday mornings punting Turffontein in South Africa, which typically meant no more form study than establishing which unknown equine Piere 'Striker' Strydom was aboard. He may have been the best rider (and he may not), but who knows what chance he had in any given race? I just didn't know about any of the other blokes (as it would have virtually exclusively been back then).

So it is with overseas punters in World Pool. It's a crying shame that there are relatively few international runners at the meeting this year because, as with Brits backing Brits at the Breeders', parochial punters are of the same stripe the world over. Hong Kong'ers will play HK runners, Aussies will back their Bruces and Sheilas, and our American cousins want to wager Wesley. That's human nature. And it is opportunity knocking.

I've managed to get hold of some great insights on last year's World Pool that reveal some of those trainers and jockeys which are overbet, and those which are underbet. More importantly, the logic around them is bombproof: overseas punters bet who they know. Duh.

So, even without Frankie Dettori or a proper away team in 2024, we still have to play Ryan Moore and William Buick, Neil Callan and Silvestre de Sousa, Hollie Doyle and Tom Marquand, as well as most likely Oisin Murphy, with caution on World Pool. The exchange will be a better option. Why? Ryan and William are the best known Euro jocks (and ride first string for the best known training and ownership firms); Callan and SdS were household names around Sha Tin and the Valley of Happy (at least in punting households) when plying their trade there; and Hollie and Tom have been highly successful in HK and Aus. Oisin has strong connections with Japan.

But, away from the international glare, prospects are rosy. The likes of Hayley Turner, Colin Keane, Billy Lee, Wayne Lordan, Kevin Stott, Kieran Shoemark, Clifford Lee, and Richard Kingscote... and, candidly, most of the very good 'stay at home' domestics... will be underbet on World Pool.

The same is true with trainers. Aidan O'Brien, Charlie Appleby, Dermot Weld, and Andrew Balding are no-no's. Big yesses are Eve Johnson Houghton, Jane Chapple-Hyam, George Boughey, and perhaps more surprisingly, the likes of Sir Michael Stoute, William Haggas and Willie Mullins. Loads of our big guns hiding in plain sight from overseas bettors.

 

How to play?

The easiest way to play this is to compare prices on horses you fancy (or on horses you don't, actually) between exchange and World Pool, and bet where the offer is healthiest. One of the great things about the World Pool is that it is far less susceptible to late price collapses; you'll still see instances of dividends being lower than the last 'show' before the off but it's rarely the deep frustration it can be in the tote payout queue on a rainy December evening at Southwell. A runner showing 12.0 as they enter the stalls is unlikely to return shorter than 10.5, say. If the last bookie show is 15/2 and the exchange shows 9.6, World Pool is the place to play.

It's not impossible that you could make underround books from this sort of cross-referenced cherry picking; or at least fashion a good edge from hedging the top of the market. If you're that way inclined. Me? I'm not especially that way inclined, but I do like an exotic...

...so what about playing combinations of the fancied horses with lesser known connections in the exacta and trifecta pools? Sure, this is a feast and famine existence, but if you hit one you'll likely be dining very well. And it will foot the bill for a lot of near misses and complete blowouts.

 

Examples

Win Pools

Let's take a couple of examples from last year, starting with the Queen Anne, arguably a bad example because the winner, 33/1 Triple Time, was not an easy one to find, here in Blighty at least. His Betfair SP was 36.45, about 10% better but pretty unsexy given his 'double carpet' starting price. On the tote, he paid £35.05, also pretty unattractive in terms of uplift against SP. But closer inspection reveals he was ridden by Neil Callan, one of the great 'clock' riders in Britain (and, day to day, just about the single most underrated in my view). Callan's ability was/is not lost on Hong Kong players whose wagering respect for him is greater than ours, a fact reflected in that return.

Compare that with the opening race on the Saturday, the Chesham Stakes, won by Snellen. Ridden by Gary Carroll and trained by Gavin Cromwell, names far from the overseas radar, he returned 12/1 at SP, 13.88 BSP, and £14.30 on World Pool. That was followed by the Jersey Stakes where Aidan O'Brien's second string, Ace Of Kings, ridden by Wayne Lordan, was a 22/1 scorer. He paid 34 on the exchange and £34.70 on World Pool, a 50% bonus against SP.

Exacta / Trifecta

In truth, it will often be the case that the best value close to the off is with the exchange if you're playing in the win markets. But what about the exacta/trifecta options? In these pools, which are not generally available on exchanges but compete directly with bookmaker-derived computer straight forecast (CSF) and tricast offerings, we have the chance to multiply lesser known connections. Again, a couple of examples will help.

In the Copper Horse Stakes, the closing 1m6f handicap on the 2023 Tuesday, Willie Mullins saddled a 1-2 with the even money favourite obliging ahead of his 5/1 stablemate. Even though this pair was ridden by Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori, essentially the two highest profile jockeys at the meeting, the World Pool exacta paid £15.20 against a miserly CSF of £6.11. That would have been one of the easier 14/1 shots we'll ever have the chance to find.

At the other end of the feasibility spectrum, we had the Norfolk Stakes on Thursday where 150/1 Valiant Force beat 66/1 Malc. What chance in the Norfolk? Norfolk and chance! Anyhoo, someone somewhere copped it (my mate Gavin Priestley who, after flagging 33/1 Bradsell for geegeez readers last year, will be contributing again here for Royal Ascot, also put up Valiant Force on his trends service!), and the CSF paid £3478.24. Decent and well earned. But the World Pool exacta came in at a mouth-watering £5369.60. ¡Ay, caramba!

Below is the full CSF/exacta 'tale of the tape' from last year's Royal meeting. I've rounded the computer straight forecast (CSF) and exacta dividends to the nearest pound, and in the final column have displayed a ratio of exacta to CSF. For example, in the Queen Anne, the opening race on Tuesday, the Exacta (313) paid 2.63 times as much as the CSF (119). Most  notably, from 35 races, only three paid more on the bookie version of the 1-2 bet. And the average uplift was around 77% in favour of the World Pool exacta. I'll be playing these next week. It won't be easy but there's enough reward to justify the risk...

 

You can read much more about the general appeal of exacta over CSF in a two-part article, part 1 of which is here. Part 2 is here.

Multi-Race Action

The placepot (find a placed horse in the first six races) and jackpot (find the first six winners) bets are not part of World Pool per se, but the place variant is an extremely liquid pool during Royal Ascot. Indeed, last year at the meeting the placepot pool was greater than half a million pounds on each of the five days. Dividends ranged from a relatively paltry £93.70 on Tuesday to an impossible-sounding £36,284.30 on Saturday. In the middle, on Gold Cup day, there was a gettable £1,244.80 payout.

A lot of my personal play will be in the multi-race pools, mainly placepot but the Tuesday card can often lend itself to a bold jackpot tilt. Of course, I'll be using Tix, the staking optimisation tool I built with my good friend Nigel Dove (who also built much of the geegeez racecard and form tool ecosystem).

With Tix you choose a unit stake, budget and the pool you want to play (Ascot placepot for example).

 

Then you pick your horses in each leg, adding them to either A, B or C ('A' being your strong fancies, 'B' warm fancies, and 'C' dark horses). You can have just 'A' picks if you like, and/or any combination of A's, B's and C's across the six legs.

 

Once you've done that, it's on to the TICKETS tab to decide which combo's you're playing and whether you want any multipliers. I almost always set mine up like this:

 

When you're happy with everything, hit PLACE ALL BETS (or you can place tickets individually).

You can then review your placed bets and download them to a spreadsheet from the BETS tab:

 

Tix is a free tool, and winning tickets receive a 5% bonus payout. So if you're due £100 back, you'll get £105 into your tote account for bets placed through Tix.

There's much more information here and you can put Tix to work for you here.

 

Closing Thoughts

It's often said about betting that you one needs to choose one's battles; but it is also essential to opt for the right battlefield to optimise winning chances. You don't need me to tell you that finding winners at Royal Ascot is difficult; it's one of the great wagering challenges of the year where good work on Tuesday afternoon can be a distant memory by Saturday evening, and vice versa. Every return counts, so it's crucial to get as much back in odds/dividend terms as possible (what you get back is directly proportionate to what you stake and that is of no consequence here).

Sadly, optimising returns, for many punters, is an epic fail. And, at the end of the day, or of a meeting like Royal Ascot, or of your punting accounting period, it can comfortably be the difference between winning and losing.

In that somewhat preachy (sorry) spirit:

- if you can get concessions with traditional bookmakers, DO!
- win dividends are typically best on the exchanges
- exacta and trifecta dividends are generally MILES better with World Pool
- certain jockeys and trainers - those known to overseas punters - are 'caution advised' in the pools

Bring it on!

p.s. Don't forget to check out Tix, not just for the big meetings but for jackpot, placepot, quadpot, Placepot7 and Scoop6 bets, too. Start betting smarter with Tix here >



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My 2024 Cheltenham Festival Betting P&L

As has become somewhat customary, I've taken a few moments to publicly critique the wagering positions from which I stood to gain or lose during that marvellous week of racing action, the 2024 Cheltenham Festival.

It won't be interesting to everyone, perhaps only to very few, and I publish not to boast/wallow (*delete annually as applicable) but to share my own lessons learned from this most immersive of punting processes. As ever, stakes are irrelevant - many bet more than me, many bet less, whatever; the key is how the journey went and, to a much lesser degree, what the destination looked like.

If that makes little sense, now is a good time to plug into the below. [Usual reminder that I speak kinda slowly, so feel free to use the little 'cog' icon bottom right to increase the playback speed to something more acceptable for your lugs].

Below the video are a few screen grabs of various bets just to show when they were placed (many at the time of publication of the posts in which they were nominated as suggestions). And if you want to review the previews, as it were, I've linked to those right here:

Day 1 preview      Day 2 preview      Day 3 preview      Day 4 preview

 

 

Selected bets

For those of you of a notably vicarious disposition, here are some slips...

The Good

A lot of the good stuff for me - in fact, pretty much all of the good stuff - happened in the novice hurdles this year. Slade Steel (Supreme), Ballyburn (Gallagher), Majborough (Triumph) and Stellar Story (Albert Bartlett) basically were the profit side of the ledger.

 

 

 

Stellar Story was, well, just that, especially as Gavin also tipped him on the preview. He returned a Betfair SP of 46, so I didn't get the value here - maybe it should go in the 'bad' section...

 

Plus Captain Guinness, who really only expunged the El Floppiolo entry (see The Ugly below)...

 

A saver on Jade de Grugy to place (see The Bad below)...

 

And Limerick Lace, an alliterative late lump of lustre on the ledger...

 

The Bad

Not bad in value terms, more like bad beats - though of course those wily bookie chaps usually know what they're about. I was lucky that Jade was the final leg (excluding WPM and Prestbury Cup which were nigh on certs) which made it hedgeable. Got a profit overall by laying Jade for a place - see above.

 

Nowhere to go with this, and I didn't even do the smart thing and back Absurde (who finished fourth behind these three last time out, and won the County Hurdle at 12/1, 15.5 BSP) for a couple of quid.

 

The Ugly

And this was an ugly one. Actually, only in terms of its predictable outcome was it disfigured; the double (2/5 and 2/9) paid 8/11 come the hour, and I'd secured 11/10 so it was a value play. As can be seen, I cashed a slice out when I first got a wobble about it; and as referenced in the video I hedged a little back, too, so it probably wasn't as ugly as I was thinking.

 

 

Doing debriefs can be very cathartic! [And absolutely objectifies what can be misguided subjective perspectives on the ledger - definitely worth your time to fill out the spreadie in my view]

 

Summary

Overall, it was a brilliant week from a sporting perspective though I (and I'm sure most readers) really felt for Nicky Henderson. That said, it's a strong case for making hay while the sun shines: the singular focus on the Festival is unhealthy and, when the horses are, erm, unhealthy during that week in March, there's no Plan B. Hoping at least some of those good horses will show up at Aintree and/or Punchestown.

Punting wise, for yours true it was very good - and a rarity to get quids on 'Give Back Friday'. This year, it was the bookies giving back to me. Nice. Normal service is expected to resume on Friday 14th March 2025.

Until then...

Matt

p.s. how was Cheltenham for you? Best sporting moment? Best bet / worst bad beat? Leave a comment and let us know.



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2024 Cheltenham Festival Trends: DAY FOUR (Fri 15th March 2024)

Each day of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival our horse racing trends experts will give you all the quick-fire positive and negative stats for EVERY race. Apply these to the final cards and you will build up a picture and a profile of which horses have historically done the best in recent renewals.

We hope they help narrow down the fields and also help pin-point plenty of winners at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival for you!

Onto 'DAY FOUR' and it's Gold Cup Day - did you know? All of the last 21 Gold Cup winners were aged 9 or younger.

You can also see the all the other daily Cheltenham trends 2024 below.

Cheltenham Day One Trends 2024
Cheltenham Day Two Trends 2024
Cheltenham Day Three Trends 2024
Cheltenham Day Four Trends 2024

Friday 15th March 2024 (New Course)

Cheltenham Festival Trends 2024

   

    1.30 - JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 179y ITV

2023 Winner: LOSSIEMOUTH (11/8 fav)
Trainer – Willie Mullins
Jockey – Paul Townend
UK/Irish: Irish

Pluses…..

  • 23 of the last 30 winners won last time out
  • 9 of the last 15 winners were unbeaten over hurdles
  • Irish have won 8 of the last 11 runnings
  • French-breds have filled 14 of the last 23 places (last 9 runnings)
  • 14 of the last 19 came from the top 4 in the betting
  • 13 of the last 16 winners returned 13/2 or shorter in the betting
  • Respect Henderson (7 winners), Nicholls, Hobbs and King-trained runners
  • The Spring Juvenile Hurdle is a good guide (2022 winner Vauban won that race and 2023 winner Lossiemouth was runner-up in it)
  • 10 of the last 13 winners ran in the Finesse, Adonis or Spring Juvenile Hurdles (8 of the last 12) last time
  • 10 of the last 12 winners had raced by Christmas time
  • 7 of the last 9 winners began their careers in France
  • Nicky Henderson has trained 7 winners of the race
  • Gordon Elliott has had 2 wins and 3 seconds in the last 10 years
  • Mullins and Rich Ricci has won the last 2 runnings
  • 5 winning favourites in the last 10 runnings (50%)

Negatives….

  • Take on horses that have won at 2m2f or further in the past
  • Avoid horses that last ran 56 days or longer ago
  • Avoid horses that had run 3 or more times over hurdles
  • Just 2 of the last 19 winner returned bigger than 12/1
  • Be careful of horses rated 138 or lower – no winner in the last 15
  • Willie Mullins has fairly poor record despite winning the 2020, 2022, 2023 races – currently 3-from-41 runners
  • Last 8 Adonis Hurdles winners (to have run in the race) have all lost (all unplaced too)

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2.10 – BetMGM County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 179y ITV

2023 Winner: FAIVOIR (33/1)
Trainer – Dan Skelton
Jockey – Bridget Andrews
UK/Irish: UK

Pluses….

  • The Irish have won 11 of the last 17 runnings
  • 8 of the last 9 winners were trained by Willie Mullins (4) or Dan Skelton (4)
  • Willie Mullins has won 6 of the last 14 runnings
  • 18 of the last 23 winners were novices or second season hurdlers
  • 14 of the last 18 winners were rated in the 130’s
  • 9 of the last 16 winners returned 20/1 or bigger
  • 7 of the last 15 winners had run in 6 or less hurdles races
  • 13 of the last 18 winners were aged 5 or 6 years-old
  • 12 of the last 25 winners aged 5
  • 7 of the last 10 winners had run at Cheltenham before
  • 11 of the last 17 winners Irish-trained
  • 9 of the last 16 winners started their careers in France
  • 14 of the last 18 winners were priced in double-figures
  • 13 of the last 20 winners began their careers on the flat
  • Look for Mullins, Skelton, AJ Martins & Nicholls-trained runners
  • Respect the Imperial Cup (Sandown Park) winner
  • 10 winners since 2002 ran in the Ladbrokes or Betfair Hurdles that season
  • 12 of the last 23 winners came from the top 5 in the betting
  • 12 of the last 17 winners DIDN’T win last time out
  • 5 of the last 8 winners hadn’t raced in the last 72 days
  • Paul Nicholls is 4 from 32 (+15pts)
  • Willie Mullins is 4 from 52 (+36.25pts)
  • Trainer Dan Skelton has trained 4 of the last 8 winners
  • 2 winning favourites in the last 10 runnings (20%)

Negatives….

  • Strangely, previous course winners have a bad record
  • Only 2 winners since 2000 winning with a mark of 150+
  • Gordon Elliott has a poor record (0-from-20) since 2011
  • Nicky Henderson has a poor record (0-36) this century
  • Horses aged 9+ are 0-from 38 in last 16 runnings
  • Since 1960 only 5 winners carried more than 11st 2lb
  • Since 1961, only 10 winners had run at the Festival before
  • Since 2005, just 2 winners rated 146 this season
  • Avoid runners that hadn’t raced at least 4 times that season
  • Avoid horses making their handicap debuts, although last 2 winners have defied this stat
  • Just 2 winning outright favourites in last 22
  • Just 3 of the last 16 winners returned a single-figure price

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    2.50 - Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 7f 213y ITV

2023 Winner: STAY AWAY FAY (18/1)
Trainer – Paul Nicholls
Jockey – Harry Cobden
UK/Irish: UK

Pluses….

  • 9 of the last 19 winners had run at Cheltenham over hurdles before
  • 16 of the last 19 winners contested a Graded Hurdle last time out
  • 7 of the last 19 winners won the Hyde or Bristol Classic that season
  • 16 of the last 19 winners won or placed in a Graded Novice before
  • 8 of the last 12 winners had won a Point
  • 7 of the last 10 winners trained in Ireland
  • 10 of the last 15 winners had won at least twice over hurdles
  • 9 of the last 13 winners had won or been placed in a bumper
  • 9 of the last 19 came from the top 5 in the betting
  • 10 of the last 19 winner ran 47 days (or more) ago
  • 15 of the last 19 had run in a race over 3m
  • 16 of the last 18 winners were aged 6 or 7 years-old
  • 15 of the last 19 winners were 1st or 2nd last time out
  • 17 of the last 19 winners finished in the top 3 last time out
  • 12 of the last 19 winners had 4+ runs over hurdles
  • 16 of the last 18 winners finished in the top 3 last time out
  • 4 of the last 18 favourites won
  • Respect Jonjo O’Neill runners (2 wins, from 2 runners!)
  • Trainer Willie Mullins has won 3 of the last 7 runnings

Negatives….

  • Horses that ran in the last 23 days haven’t fared well
  • Challow Hurdle winners have poor Festival record
  • Avoid horses that DIDN’T finish 1st or 2nd last time out
  • Be wary of horses that have raced less than 3 times over hurdles
  • Willie Mullins is 3 from 47 in the race, but has won 2 of the last 6
  • Gordon Elliott is 0-from-12
  • Be wary of ex flat horses (1 from 19)
  • Nicky Henderson is 0-from-14 in the last 11 years
  • 5 year-olds have a poor record (1 from 120)
  • Only 4 of the last 18 winners hadn’t raced that calendar year
  • 0 winning favourites in the last 10 runnings (0%)

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    3.30 - Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1) 3m 2f 70y ITV

2023 Winner: GALOPIN DES CHAMPS (7/5 fav)
Trainer – Willie Mullins
Jockey – Paul Townend
UK/Irish: Irish

Pluses….

  • 19 of the last 24 winners ran in the Savills Chase or King George that season
  • 20 of the last 23 finished 1st or 2nd last time out
  • 19 of the last 24 winners were 2nd or 3rd season chasers
  • 12 of the last 18 winners had run 9 or less times over fences
  • 23 of the last 24 winners were Grade 1 winners
  • Every winner since 2000 only had one season hurdling
  • 19 of the last 23 had won or placed at the Festival before
  • 19 of the last 23 winners hailed from the top 3 in the betting
  • 21 of the last 24 winners had raced no more than 12 times over fences
  • 14 of the last 16 winners ran 3 or less times that season
  • 17 of the last 27 winners were bred in Ireland
  • 17 of the last 23 winners won last time out
  • 11 of the last 21 winners were favourites (52%)
  • 14 of the last 19 winners yet to win beyond 3m 1/2f
  • ALL of the last 24 winners were aged 9 or younger
  • 23 of the last 24 winners aged between 7-9 years-old
  • 21 of the last 24 winners were in their first three seasons over fences
  • Horses placed in a previous Supreme Novices’ Hurdle have a good record
  • 5 of the last 13 winners ran in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase the previous season
  • Willie Mullins and Henry De Bromhead have won the last 5
  • Trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Paul Townend have won 3 of the last 5 runnings
  • 4 winning favourites in the last 10 runnings (40%)

Negatives….

  • Non-Grade One winners have a poor record
  • Just one past winner for Gordon Elliott
  • No winner older than 10 years-old since 1969 (0 from 74)
  • Just one winning 6 year-old since 1964
  • Horses rated 166 or less are only 6 from last 46
  • Avoid horses that had run on ‘heavy’ ground that season
  • Horses wearing headgear have a bad recent record
  • Only 3 winners since 2000 returned 9/1 or bigger
  • Just 2 of the last 16 winners had raced more than 3 times that season
  • Horses that were beaten in their first Gold Cup don’t fare well
  • Only 2 winners since 2000 had previously been beaten in the race
  • No winner since 2000 ran in that season’s Cotswold Chase

Cheltenham Gold Cup Stats: The Last 20 Years

  • 20/20 – Aged 9 or younger
  • 19/20 – Had raced within the last 3 months
  • 18/20 – Had run over fences at Cheltenham before
  • 17/20 – Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
  • 17/20 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
  • 17/20 – Had won over at least 3m (chase) before
  • 15/20 – Winning distance – 2 lengths or more
  • 15/20 – Won last time out
  • 14/20 – Placed favourites
  • 13/20 – Had won 5 or more times over fences in the UK or Ire before
  • 12/20 – Rated 170 or higher
  • 11/20 – Irish bred
  • 10/20 – Winning favourites
  • 9/20 – Irish-trained winners (6 of the last 7)
  • 8/20 – Had last raced in the previous calendar year
  • 8/20 – Had won over fences at Cheltenham before
  • 5/20 – Last race was in the King George VI Chase (Kempton)
  • 4/20 – Won the Denman Chase (Newbury) last time out
  • 3/20 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
  • 3/20 - Trained by Willie Mullins (3 of the last 5)
  • 2/20 – Ran in the Savills Chase last time out
  • 2/20 – Trained by Nicky Henderson
  • 2/20 – Trained by Henry De Bromhead (2 of the last 3)
  • The average winning SP in the last 20 renewals is 11/2

Other Cheltenham Gold Cup Stats

  • Only one horse (Kauto Star 2009) has ever regained the race
  • 28 of the last 29 winners have been aged 9 or younger
  • 9 of the last 21 winners came here fresh – did not race that same calendar year
  • 18 of the last 22 winners were rated 166 or higher
  • 22 of the last 24 winners had won a race already that current season
  • 16 of the last 22 winners had finished second or better at the Cheltenham Festival before
  • 11 of the last 23 winners had run in that season’s King George VI Chase (Kempton)
  • 22 of the last 23 winners had won a Grade One Chase contest before
  • The last winner aged older than 11+ was in 1969 (What a Myth, 12)
  • Just one 10 year-old winner since 1993 (Cool Dawn, 1998)

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   4.10 - St James's Place Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase 3m 2f 70y ITV

2023 Winner: Premier Magic
Trainer – Bradley Gibbs
Jockey – Mr Bradley Gibbs
UK/Irish: Irish

Pluses…..

  • 29 of the last 33 winners were aged under 11 years-old
  • 27 of the last 38 won last time out
  • The last 9 winners aged 10 or 11
  • 20 of the last 21 winners Irish or French bred
  • The last 17 winners were yet to win over this trip (rules)
  • 8 of the last 14 winners finished in the top 5 in the race last year
  • 9 of the last 15 winners came from the first 4 in the betting
  • 31 of the last 35 started out in point-to-point races
  • 14 of the last 18 winners ran 34 days or less ago
  • Respect the Irish runners (won 9 of last 13)
  • 5 of the last 12 winners ran in the Leopardstown Inn Hunters’ Chase
  • 13 of the last 18 winners were aged 8-10 years-old
  • 9 of the last 15 winners returned 15/2 or shorter
  • 14 of the last 16 winners finished in the top 3 last time out
  • 11 of the last 14 winners rated 134 or higher (7 of last 11, rated 138+)
  • 3 back-to-back winners in the last 12
  • Trainer Paul Nicholls has won the race 5 times

Negatives….

  • Horses that ran in a handicap race that season haven’t got a good record
  • Avoid horses that hadn’t won a race under rules
  • Just 2 winners in the last 47 years aged 12 or older
  • 30 of the last 37 horses aged 11+ (priced in single figures) have lost – but the 2019 winner – Hazel Hill – defied this trend
  • Just one 6 year-old winner in the last 36 runnings
  • Only 2 winners aged 7 since 2000
  • Avoid ex-handicappers rated 140+ in their careers
  • Avoid horses that raced 35 days or longer ago
  • British bred horses are 0-89 (last 21 runnings)
  • Just 2 winners since 2000 hadn’t run within the last 53 days
  • Horses aged 11+ are just 5 from 266 since 1990
  • Just 4 winners since 2000 didn’t finish in the top 3 last time out
  • 3 winning favourites in the last 10 runnings (30%)

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    4.50- Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase 2m 4f 127yds ITV

2023 Winner: IMPERVIOUS (1st 15/8)
Trainer – Colm Murphy
Jockey – Brian Hayes
UK/Irish: Irish

  • Only 3 previous runnings
  • Willie Mullins trained 2 winners
  • Willie Mullins has a good record in ‘mares’ only’ races at the Festival
  • All 3 winners have been 2nd favourite
  • All 3 winners won last time out
  • All 3 winners rated 150+
  • All 3 winners aged 7-8
  • All 3 winners had run well at the Cheltenham Festival before
  • 0 winning favourites in the last 3 runnings (0%)

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    5.30 - Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (0-145) 2m 4f 56y RTV

 

2023 Winner: IROKO
Trainer – Oliver Greenall & Josh Guerriero
Jockey – Aidan Kelly
UK/Irish: UK

Pluses….

  • 14 of the last 15 winners were 2nd season-hurdlers
  • 11 of the last 13 winners placed in the top 3 last time
  • All of the last 15 winners carried 11-1 or more
  • 3 of the last 6 winners had top-weight
  • All 15 winners aged 7 or younger
  • 9 or the last 12 winners rated 138+
  • 13 of the last 15 winners had 8 or less runs over hurdles
  • 6 of the last 10 winners were Irish-based Novices
  • Irish have won 8 of the last 13 (6 making handicap debuts)
  • 37 of the 39 win and place horses were 1st or 2nd season hurdlers
  • Look for Henderson, Nicholls, Mullins, Elliot-trained horses
  • 12 of the 15 winners were placed in the top 4 last time out
  • 8 of the 15 winners won last time out
  • 6 of the last 10 winners had run over a longer trip that season
  • 9 of the 15 winners were rated 133-139
  • 9 of the 15 winners returned at a double-figure price (11 of the last 15 were 16/1 or less)
  • 5 and 6 year-old have won 13 of last 15 runnings
  • Look for jockeys that have ridden 20+ winners
  • Willie Mullins is 4 from 25 runners in the race (won 4 of the last 13 runnings)
  • Respect any Gigginstown House Stud-owned runners (4 winners, 5 places)
  • Paul Nicholls has won the race twice in the last 11 years
  • Gordon Elliott has won 2 of the last 7 runnings
  • Trainer Joseph O’Brien has won 2 of the last 5
  • Nicholls, Elliott, Mullins and O’Brien have won 9 of the last 11 between them

Negatives….

  • Despite being named after his father the David Pipe stable has a poor record so far (0 from 23, inc 3 favs)
  • Horses aged 8+ are 0-from 63
  • Just 1 winning fav in the 15-year history (9-13 returned in double-figures)
  • Horses in headgear are currently 1 from 78
  • Only 4 winners have previous Festival experience
  • Horses with 11st or less are currently 0-from-100
  • 0 winning favourites in the last 10 runnings (0%)
  • 1 Winning fav since the race started in 2009

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Cheltenham Festival 2024: Day Four Preview, Tips

Cheltenham Festival 2024: Day Four Preview, Tips

It's been a weird, and occasionally unsatisfying, week with the abandonment of the Cross Country Chase and the lamentable early showings - and subsequent withdrawals - of Nicky Henderson's star players. But here we are, three down one to go and buoyed for a crack at the Foxhunters Gold Cup. If you're behind at this point, the good news is there is still time; the bad news is this is 'Give Back Friday'...

1.30 Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1, 2m1f)

Previewed by Matt Bisogno. Although Nicky has had to pull most of his star players, he does - at time of writing, Wednesday morning - still plan to run Sir Gino, strong Triumph Hurdle favourite heretofore but now drifting like The Drifters aboard the Kon-Tiki. Let's consider his form credentials before getting bogged down in the health of the yard. Unbeaten in three, Sir Gino was considered smart enough to debut in a Listed contest at Auteuil. Sent off at bigger than 20/1 on the Paris nanny, he scored by a bit less than two lengths.

Subsequently transferred to Seven Barrows, the first thing they did was give him a wind op (well, it probably wasn't the first thing, but you know what I mean). His breathing facilitated, he scooted up by half the track in a decent Kempton Introductory Hurdle; and he then buried the Burdett Road dream by bashing that one ten lengths in a Grade 2 on the Old course here. His form is miles clear of the rest of the home team, but that bug in the Henderson yard makes it very difficult to accept a shortish price.

That's all the more true when you see what Willie's bringing to the party. Perhaps Majborough will be the pick of his, perhaps he won't; but in time he very well might be, according to 'the vibes'. In any case, his close soft ground third to stablemate Kargese in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle on first start for over a year - he'd run as a three-year-old at Auteuil on 2nd April 2023 - was expected to blow away the cobwebs and it surely did.

Willie ran five in that race, Majborough only third choice in the betting, and the two ahead of him in the market filled the first two slots home. They were led by second favourite that day, Kargese, who looks a smart filly. Always prominent, she wasn't always fluent, but ran on well in a first time hood. She'll keep that pacifier on here and will again take on Majborough and the second from the Spring, Storm Heart. This ex-French flat horse won a maiden by 22 lengths before his G1 second, and he too retains plenty of upside. It is noteworthy that he's the choice of Paul Townend.

Willie ran five in the Spring Juvenile, and he saddles - wait, let me count them - sEvEn here! Seven. Out of the 14. I mean, what? As with the bumper, there's a chance he doesn't know the pecking order; but unlike the bumper, he's won this with his first string three times in the last four years. That points to Majborough in spite of having to turn the tables with both Kargese and Storm Heart. He's clearly held in high regard.

A quick whizz through the other four Willies - Bunting was fourth in the Spring Juvenile, only a bit more than two lengths behind the winner, and is another who on form could come out in front this time; Ethical Diamond was sixth there, and has five lengths to find - still not impossible; and High Wind was eighth at Leopardstown and ostensibly has plenty on to get past any of the aforementioned Mullins mob.

Meanwhile, Salvator Mundi hasn't run for eleven months since claiming argent at Auteuil in another Listed race. But here's the thing: he was second to none other than Sir Gino! The pair of them pulled ten clear of the third placed horse and, while Sir Gino, was value for a little more than 1 3/4 length margin, that obviously still makes Salvator Mundi 'live' in here if he's fit after that long layoff.

Nurburgring is quite battle hardened but I'm not sure his form with Kala Conti is quite as strong as some of the Closutton collective, or that he has the upside of them.

Back in Blighty, Salver has been winning and winning. He served up (geddit?!) in the G2 Finale at Chepstow having already won his two prior hurdles in lower class; then he won the Victor Ludorum at Haydock. A feature of his most recent brace of scores was very wet underfoot, so conditions ought not to be a concern - whether he's as good as the Irish and/or Sir Gino remains a concern!

I'm struggling to make cases for the rest, though Peking Opera was a very good flat horse and Ithaca's Arrow ploughed through the Newbury mud last time (he also ploughed through quite a few of the hurdles). Fratas has been off for a long time. And I backed Mighty Bandit a long time ago at a shorter price than he is now. He's moved from Elliott to Greatrex and has a clunk last time on his scorecard, though he was clearly wrong that day. He's a lot harder to fancy for that water under the bridge since my guessy ante post voucher, but he did look very good on his first hurdling start.

Triumph Hurdle Pace Map

Bound to be pacey early, with something from the Willie phalanx locking horns most probably with Salver and perhaps Fratas.

Triumph Hurdle Selection

Very tricky in light of the issues surrounding the jolly. He can't possibly be a bet as things stand, which makes punting a guess up. Paul Townend has ridden the three recent Mullins winners, but Mark Walsh is retained by JP McManus for Majborough. Townend rides Storm Heart and that one could be a bit of each way value in a race where there's not a lot between many of them. I'd love to see Salver win.

Suggestion: Try Storm Heart each way at 11/1 or so.

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2.10 County Hurdle (Grade 3 Handicap, 2m1f)

Previewed by Rory Delargy.

I was a bit miffed when Dan Skelton (handicap genius or barefaced cheat – you decide) said he was going to miss the County Hurdle with 2023 winner Faivoir as I’d availed myself of some 28/1 ante-post on the basis of his eye-catching run in the Betfair Hurdle when fifth behind Iberico Lord. Stablemate L’Eau du Sud was runner-up that day and Skelton seemed adamant that the latter would carry his hopes in the County.

I was even more miffed when, hoping to cash in, I napped Faivoir in the Imperial Cup only to see him beaten a nose by Go Dante. He’s clearly well handicapped, and Skelton has decided to let him run again. I thought initially that this sounded like a bad-beat declaration, but my friend Mr Massey mentioned the stable’s record when turning runners out quickly in handicaps. Naturally, I headed over to geegeez.co.uk (pint please, Matt) to double check.

True enough, Skelton’s record with quick turnarounds is excellent with two wins and a second in the last two years from just seven runners, including Heltenham’s 17/2 score at Newbury recently. Looking back further his figures are even better for hurdlers alone with five winners from 12 runners turned out less than a week from a previous start. That’s enough to make Faivoir interesting again even if he did have a hard race at Sandown and presumably he won’t run if there are signs he’s not fully recovered.

L’Eau du Sud ran a stormer in the Betfair and while the form was let down by the winner in the Champion Hurdle, I think we all know that the Henderson lurgy was responsible for that, and ditto Betfair fourth Doddiethegreat’s late capitulation in the Coral Cup. The form of that race is clearly strong, as it always is, and the only negative about L’Eau du Sud is the price, with every man and his dog having hitched on to the Skelton bandwagon.

The other good trial for this race is the 2m Listed handicap hurdle at the DRF which this year was won by Lord Erskine from Magical Zoe and Zenta with a number of horses taken out of the race in what we affectionately refer to as a “shemozzle” at the penultimate flight. One of those brought down was Bialystock, who was travelling well and improving on the inner at the time. I think that trio are all of interest, and while a 7lb rise for the first two seems a little harsh at first glance, Bialystock is only 1lb higher and that also makes him of interest here.

Both Zenta and Magical Zoe were relatively handily placed off the turn, and out of trouble wide on the track, but it’s possible that both went slightly too early as 50/1 winner Lord Erskine was produced very late to swamp them from the final hurdle. One can knock the form because of the odds of the winner, but I think it’s very solid and Lord Erskine came in for a really well judged ride, finding the best of the ground wide on the track and delaying his challenge until late.

In short, there is nothing between Magical Zoe and Zenta on Leopardstown form and the pair can be expected to play a big part in the finish if held on to for slightly longer, while Bialystock is weighted to beat them if you take the view that he would have finished off as strongly as he travelled there. On that point, Ruby Walsh feels that Bialystock needs a fairly sharp 2m to show his best given he’s very speedy and was concerned about the stiff 2m1f here when I mentioned Bialystock as a County possibility. That’s a warning worth heeding but he still merits his place on the list.

Of the others King of Kingsfield and Absurde were third and fourth behind Ballyburn and Slade Steel and are of obvious interest dropping into a handicap from that Grade 1 contest which has thrown up two impressive winners in the big novice hurdles this week. Both are worthy of consideration, but both are also well found already in the market.

County Hurdle Pace Map

Another almost guaranteed quick pace though it's not clear from where the early dash will emerge. Aucunrisque looks a likely but Westport Cove is the only other to have led in its most recent three spins. A handful of others led four back. I still reckon it'll be quick but could be wrong as I don't know who goes on!

County Hurdle Selection

In terms of the final call, price will be crucial, and the favourite is a tad short now for all he could ease on the day. Faivoir is 16/1 in a couple of places which is very fair given the stats quoted above and his attractive mark, while even Ruby’s words don’t completely put me off Bialystock after his eye-catching run at Leopardstown.

Suggestion: Try Faivoir at 16/1 and/or Bialystock at 11/1 each way with as many extra places as you can find.

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2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1, 3m)

Previewed by Gavin Priestley, FestivalTrends.co.uk.

All of the last 14 winners had their last run over 2m3f-3m 1/2f.

All of the last 14 winners had their last run in the previous 26-90 day period.

12 of the last 13 winners had finished top 3 last time out.

All of the last 12 winners with an official rating were rated 136+.

9 of the last 10 winners returned 11/1 or bigger.

12 of the last 13 winners had raced 7 or fewer times over hurdles.

12 of the last 14 winners were aged 6 or 7yo.

11 of the last 14 winners had won at 2m4 1/2f+.

11 of the last 14 winners had their last start in Graded company (8 in a Grade 2).

10 of the last 14 winners were Irish Bred.

9 of the last 14 winners finished Top 3 in a Graded hurdle last time out.

8 of the last 14 winners had won a Graded hurdle previously.

4 of the last 14 winners returned 33/1 or bigger.

3 of the last 14 winners had raced 15 or more times in their career.

Willie Mullins had 22 straight losers between 2010-2016 but has now won 3 of the last 7.

8 of the last 12 winners had won an Irish PTP.

4 of the last 9 winners wore a tongue tie.

All 6 female runners have finished unplaced.

Only 1 of the last 13 winners had their last race in a handicap (27 such runners).

The sire Oscar has 2 wins and 3 places from 16 runners since the races inception.

The Grade 2 Lyons Of Limerick Jaguar Land Rover Novice Hurdle is a decent Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle trial given that the 2015, 2017 and 2021 Albert Bartlett winners had all taken part in the race prior to winning at Cheltenham, while Fury Road (third by a neck in the 2020 Albert Bartlett) had won that trial back in 2019. This Season's winner, Loughlynn, had looked a progressive horse prior to this win but has been pulled up since in a Grade 1 and gives the race a miss. The runner up at Limerick is here though and Gordon Elliott's 7yo STELLAR STORY looks just the type to go well in this.

A winning Irish pointer who is also a two time NH Flat winner, from three starts, he beat Ile Atlantique and Caldwell Potter on his third bumper start which is cracking form, that pair subsequently doing very well in Grade 1 company over hurdles and the former running third in Gallagher Novices' Hurdle on Wednesday. Stellar Story won first time up over hurdles this season and was then done for pace against a couple of speedier types in a Grade 2 at Navan over 2m4f at the start of December. He was then second in that Limerick Grade 2 Hurdle before staying on late in 4th in the big 2m6f Grade 1 Novice at the Leopardstown Festival a couple of weeks ago. I think he's crying out for this step up to 3 miles and the form of that NH flat race at Naas last February has worked out really well. He ticks all the boxes for Cheltenham, has form on soft ground and given the history of outsiders running well in this race I'm certainly not put off by his price. I like his chances a lot.

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Pace Map

Quick, and attritional, as it usually is in 'the potato race'. Giggy may get jiggy on the lead, with some help from Wiggie Willie.

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Selection

Suggestion: Back STELLAR STORY 1pt EW at 25/1.

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Festival Trends

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3.30 Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1, 3m 2 1/2f)

Previewed by Matt Bisogno. A Gold Cup shorn of one of its stars as Shishkin has succumbed to the mystery ailment afflicting Seven Barrows in recent days, but of course the show must go on. We still have the champ, Galopin Des Champs, back to defend a crown he acquired with a seven length beating of Bravemansgame twelve months ago.

Galopin was subsequently beaten not once but twice - either side of his seasonal break - by perrenial rival Fastorslow, before exacting revenge last time in the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival. It is widely assumed that that finishing order will be maintained, but the market has arguably over-stated that. Regardless, GdC looks on top of his game and his top form is the best in the race. He's a logical and worthy favourite.

Fastorslow has a few less notches on his bedpost, and had something of a bridesmaid look having run up to Corach Rambler in the Ultima last term and also been second in the Coral Cup the year before. He's since, erm, 'got married' (note to self, don't start analogies that will go nowhere) twice in Grade 1 company before that reverse at the hands of Galopin. [*trying desperately to crowbar in the old joke: "I've got two wives, do you think that's bigamy?" "I think that's very big of you!" - there, I did it, apols also for that]

Getting back on track, Bravemansgame was just that one spot away from winning the Blue Riband a year ago, and he's having another crack now. Why wouldn't he? Since then, he's had more seconds than a minute, running up to Gentlemansgame, Royale Pagaille, and Hewick respectively. The most recent was in the King George and that, again, is top form, albeit in defeat. Soft ground would hold no fears though he's unproven on heavy bar a Listed bumper flop at Ascot way back in 2019; that shouldn't be over-factored.

Staying with Team GB, L'Homme Presse will surely be a different dude this time from the shadow of himself that showed up in the Grade 1 Ascot Chase: never put in the race that day (pocket talk, sigh) he finished well enough over a clearly inadequate trip. Lest we forget, he was the 2022 Brown Advisory winner and though I didn't like it at the time, that was a belting prep for this.

Most of Gerri Colombe's best form has been on a sounder surface - Grade 1 Mildmay, Grade 1 Scilly Isles - but he's also got G1 verdicts on soft and soft to heavy. He was duffed up by Galopin Des Champs at Christmas, beaten 23 lengths there, and we've not seen him since. That'd be a worry for me although he's obviously a very talented chap at his best.

And then there's the fairytale ownership story that is Hewick. Bought for £12.50 (or thereabouts), he's won a bet365 Gold Cup, a Galway Plate, an American Grand National, an Oaksey Chase, and a King George. And the Durham National! Wowzers. And he actually cost €850. Just incredible - good luck to those very, very, very lucky owners and the astonishing journey this horse has taken them on. But can he win a Gold Cup?

Well, the answer to can he win a Durham Nash was probably 'no', as it was to 'can he win xyz other big race?', so let's break with that errant tradition and say, yes, he can win a Gold Cup. Whether he will or not is another question entirely. He jumps well and he stays very well so those are great credentials, as is his obvious will to battle and win, but there is a rather large fly in the ointment. ALL of his best form is on quick ground. It will not be that here, "and so I'm out" (said in my most earnest Deborah Meaden voice).

Ground would be a small niggle for Corach Rambler, too. Yes, he won a four runner novice hurdle on heavy back yon, but he will have outclassed his rivals there; and yes, he won the Ultima on soft last season. I actually really like him as a 'running on' play - maybe a place lay to back, or some such - and if I can get four places I'm bound to back him for a little bit. Because he's actually very good. Two wins here in the Ultima and a Grand National triumph tell us that; and he's surely had his mark managed as far as possible hitherto this campaign with a view to a repeat National bid. Those shackles now off he'll bring his A game here.

I can't have any of the rest. Fishcake Monkfish has been fragile and largely absent since his brilliant novice chase season, failing to win in three starts since; it's tough to envisage that streak being broken on his fourth go, in the Gold Cup. Nassalam does love the mud - he blitzed them in the Welsh National on heavy - so if it was a really, really wet day he'd enter minor calculations. Former Brown Advisory winner The Real Whacker has been missing since and isn't for me; and while I respect everything Henry de B runs at the Festival, even I'm having a hard time magicking a case for Jungle Boogie.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Pace Map

Quite a tough one to call pace wise, with a feature of most of the runners being their run style versatility. Galopin Des Champs has led in small fields the last twice but might take a lead here, while the Games - Bravemans and Gentlemans - could also get an early call. Should be a good even gallop and may the best horse win.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Selection

It might be that Galopin Des Champs just wins or that, if he doesn't, Fastorslow does. I'll probably do that 'no brainer' exacta which will pay 5/1 or so. But I kind of like L'Homme Presse as a sleeper in the field and he'll be my each way play. Lower down, Corach Rambler will be running on and can hit the extended frame; and if it's very wet - it might be! - Nassalam could surprise a few.

Suggestion: Try a little on L'Homme Presse each way, and perhaps Corach Rambler (not too wet) or Nassalam (biblical rainfall) with as many places as you can get. But, obviously, no surprise whatsoever if the top of the market outclasses them.

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4.10 Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase (Class 2, 3m 2 1/2f)

Previewed by John Burke, VictorValue.co.uk.

As ever I will begin with a look at a few general race trends:

Ten year-old’s have won six of the last ten renewals of the race – six winners from 47 runners +130.63, 12 placed with the A/E=1.86.

Nine of the last ten winners have been aged 10 or 11.

Favourites are three winners from ten runners -0.24, six placed. But five winners were returned between 16/1 & 66/1.

Eight of the last ten winners had won between 2m7f and 3m2½f.

There have been a number of repeat winners of this race, with Salsify, On The Fringe and Pacha Du Polder enjoying back-to-back successes since 2012.

To the form and the first thing you notice is the number of declared runners. This year’s renewal has attracted just a dozen hunters. 23 ran last year and the race average since 2008 is 22.75. Hopefully it’s a case of quality rather than quantity but I suppose it may also say a lot about the direction of travel of the hunter chase game.

I'll admit that if Matt hadn't asked me to preview the race, I probably wouldn't have given it much attention. However, I'm glad I did because despite the small field, I believe it could be an interesting contest.

Ferns Lock, Its On The Line, Premier Magic, and Samcro all share the top spot on official ratings.

Ferns Lock, although making his first appearance at Cheltenham, is a proficient jumper and a strong traveller. If he manages to stay the extended 3m2f distance, he's the most likely winner, although that's not certain given his racing style.

Its On The Line, recently acquired by JP McManus and trained by Emmet Mullins, boasts a solid record with three consecutive wins in hunter chases. He battled to victory over one of today's rivals, Billaway, in his last outing at Naas and is a strong stayer who could challenge Ferns Lock on the run-in.

Premier Magic secured victory in last year's race and followed up with another win at Cheltenham in May. Although he held off Its On The Line by 1¾ lengths last year, the latter has gained experience since then, and Premier Magic might find it tougher to repeat his success.

Samcro has shown revitalised form in point-to-point races, winning four times between October and November. While he might struggle against the likes of Ferns Lock and Its On The Line, he can't be completely discounted.

Billaway, winner of this race in 2022, fell twelve months ago but showed promise in his recent runner-up finish at Naas. Although his jumping isn't as polished as some of his rivals, his staying power keeps him in the mix.

Quintin’s Man found 2m6f an inadequate stamina test when 3rd of eight at Haydock last month. He won a course and distance hunter chase here last May so the return to today’s trip appears more suitable. He’s going the right way but would need to improve plenty to trouble the principles.

Sine Nomine delivered an improved performance to win a heavy ground hunter chase at Wetherby last month. The mare is now three from five under Rules and, whilst she needs to improve again to even get into the places, she might be capable of doing so.

Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase  Pace Map

The map only shows Rules form, so ignores point to points. As such, it's not to be trusted for all that it implies a fair gallop set by one or both of Billaway and Ferns Lock with possibly 14yo Shantou Flyer wanting a piece, too, if he can keep up!

Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase Selection

The battle seems to be between Ferns Lock and Its On The Line. If Ferns Lock conserves his energy early on, he’s the most likely winner, but Its On The Line is a strong finisher. Premier Magic, last year's winner, can't be dismissed, and for those seeking a value bet, Sine Nomine will hopefully be available at decent each-way odds.

That's a wrap for me. I've thoroughly enjoyed sharing my race previews with you, and I hope you've found them enjoyable and informative. Until next time, happy racing!

Suggestion: Try Ferns Lock to win at 11/4 and/or Sine Nomine each way at 16/1 or bigger.

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4.50 Mares' Chase (Grade 2, 2m 4 1/2f)

Previewed by Matt Bisogno. Ah, the Mares' Chase. An 'after the Lord Mayor's Show' of a race if ever there was. Or maybe 'After the Lord Mares' Show'. Perhaps not. Let's get on with it, shall we?

It's 20/1 bar four and that's mainly because Dinoblue, even money, is in the field. Her form in front of Gentleman De Mee and closest to El Fabiolo the last twice is the best by a margin; but she's only run once at this twenty furlong range, a ten length fourth in a Fairyhouse G1 novice hurdle. She kept on that day, and doubts about stablemate Lossiemouth's stamina for a similar step up were unambiguously dispelled on Tuesday. She'll probably win - she's a really smart mare.

But what if she doesn't stay? In such a scenario, Gavin Cromwell may hold the key. He runs two, Limerick Lace and Brides Hill. Limerick Lace handles soft and heavy ground, stays very well (keeping on second in the three mile Thyestes Chase) and bolted up in a Listed mares' race at this trip in Doncaster last time. I'm not convinced she's quick enough but I'm certain she'll handle conditions.

Brides Hill is on a four-timer, and she looks a trip specialist. She, too, has soft ground form, though not heavy ground form, and she's had a lot of races. She'd not be near the top of my list.

Another with conditions in her corner is Allegorie De Vassy, twice a winner on heavy in her last three starts, both in Listed company. She finished second in this last year and may again have to settle for minor honours, though she probably will go close.

Making a case for anything else is probably folly, but at a massive price Marsh Wren is better suited to conditions than most. Still a novice, she's a winner of eight of 13 starts, three of four in chases, and went to Ireland to beat some of their Listed class mares last time. She has a chunk to find on the book but goes from the front and will, as they say, "give a bold sight".

Mares' Chase Pace Map

This should be a proper test at the trip which may or may not find out the best mare in the field. Kestrel Valley and Marsh Wren, along with Dinoblue's stablemate, Instit (pronounced Ansty, apparently), will be the trailblazers.

Mares' Chase Selection

Dinoblue has to show she stays, and she might. If we knew she did, she wouldn't be evens, I guess, but I still don't like that price given the unanswered question. Limerick Lace is probably quite solid for all that she's probably quite slow (might be what's needed if it's wet) and Allegorie De Vassy is another the market (and I) expect(s) to be on the premises. If you want to go mad - we might need to by this point - Marsh Wren without the favourite, could sneak a minor placing.

Suggestion: I'm going to try to get Dinoblue beaten, which will be a waste of time if she stays. In that context, back Limerick Lace to win at 9/2.

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5.30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3, 2m 4 1/2f)

Previewed by David MasseyThis year’s Martin Pipe is a slightly strange affair, with a less compressed look to the handicap than is normally the case. It tends to be a 0-145 handicap where the bottom in is usually around the low 130’s but this time around you’ve a few below that mark and bottom weight Russian Ruler, for the not-in-form Nicky Henderson (it has to turn, doesn’t it?), is rated just 122. 

The lowest rating for anything winning this in the last decade is 135, and most of the unexposed ones that tend to do well in the race are 130+, and I think we’ll find the winner there. 

Ocastle Des Mottes is one of the Willie Mullins plots for this and he has a touch of the Galopins about him. The future Gold Cup winner had been sixth in a Grade 1 on his previous start before winning this in 2021 and Ocastle Des Mottes, whilst not competing at that level last time, still went off favourite for the Betfair Hurdle last month. Perhaps all the pre-race shenanigans when he had to be re-shod didn’t help his cause, but he was a little disappointing all the same in finishing eighth. I feel that, given the level of support he had that day, he must be capable of better, and I’d not be writing him off on the back of one run. 

Willie’s Quai De Bourbon is the one that’s come in for all the support ever since the market opened, but he looks underpriced on what he’s achieved so far. His defeat of stablemate Westport Cove looks solid enough, with the runner-up going on to be beaten 12 lengths by Tullyhill at the Dublin Racing Festival, and a mark of 140 looks fair enough. He has one of the most experienced jockeys on board in Michael O’Sullivan and he has plenty of upside to him. The market has him well found, all the same. 

Gordon Elliott has twice won this in recent years and of his battalion Better Days Ahead is the one that makes the most appeal. He didn’t shine in the Champion Bumper last year but has shown steady progression in four hurdles starts, coming up against Slade Steel at Navan two starts ago (not knocked about as the stable’s second string that day, but still not beaten far) and then second to Asian Master over a trip too short at Navan last time. Those two pieces of form look all the stronger after the Supreme and, with the useful Danny Gilligan in the plate, he just about heads up my shortlist. 

It isn’t a totally one-sided affair, as the British have won the Martin Pipe twice in the last four years, with Iroko last year and the game Indefatigable four years ago (seems like yesterday, that) but the home team is not a strong one. You’d like to think at some point David Pipe might win the race named after his father but he’s 0-23 despite chucking some decent ammunition at it over the years. Thanksforthehelp was probably trying to get himself qualified for the Pertemps at Chepstow last time; that failed, and this looks more in hope than any great plan. 

The one I could throw a few quid at each-way from our side is Gary Moore’s Teddy Blue. I’m not entirely convinced he’s in the right race today - the County would have been my preference -  but regardless, he’s developed his own ideas about the game and isn’t one to fully trust. That’s fine if he’s a 40-1 shot, as you don’t have to pay a lot to find out what side of bed he’s got out of, but his recent form is decent enough. He travelled up well to throw down a challenge in the Lanzarote before fading late and, at Ascot last time, was only beaten five lengths in a competitive affair. He will hang left under pressure, and the hope is a fast-run affair will keep him on the bridle long enough before he realises he’s in a race and by then, he’s hopefully got the place part of the bet wrapped up.  

Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle Pace Map

Again, not obviously stacked with pace but hard to see that it won't be truly run. Gordon runs seven so one will likely go on, most likely either or both of Better Days Ahead or Mel Monroe.

Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle Selection

Suggestion: Two bets for me - each-way 10/1 Better Days Ahead and a little win and place at 50/1 Teddy Blue.

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And that, as they say, will be that. I hope that you're having a great week, be it only in sport or with some wagering success too, and wishing you all the best with your Friday plays. Thanks a million for following geegeez this week, and special thanks to the great writing assistance I've received from David, Rory, Gavin and John - top men, all. Do check out their links in the above if you've appreciated their work as much as I have.

Be lucky.

Matt



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2024 Cheltenham Festival Trends: DAY THREE (Thurs 14th March 2024)

Each day of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival our horse racing trends experts will give you all the quick-fire positive and negative stats for EVERY race. Apply these to the final cards and you will build up a picture and a profile of which horses have historically done the best in recent renewals.

We hope they help narrow down the fields and also help pin-point plenty of winners at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival for you!

Day Three at the Cheltenham Festival features the Grade One Ryanair Chase - a contest that 15 of the last 19 winners had won at Cheltenham before.

While we've also got the Grade One Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle - a prize we saw Sire Du Berlais grabbing a shock win in 2023 and is back for more at the age of 12.

You can also see the all the other daily Cheltenham trends 2024 below.

Cheltenham Day One Trends 2024
Cheltenham Day Two Trends 2024
Cheltenham Day Three Trends 2024
Cheltenham Day Four Trends 2024

Thursday 14th March 2024 (New Course)

Cheltenham Festival Trends 2024

  

    1.30 - Turners Novices' Chase (Grade 1) 2m 3f 166y ITV

2023 Winner: STAGE STAR 15/2
Trainer – Paul Nicholls
Jockey – Harry Cobden
UK/Irish: UK

Pluses….

  • 9 of the 13 winners were Irish-trained
  • 12 of the last 13 winners were aged 6 or 7 years-old
  • Willie Mullins has trained 4 of the last 13 winners
  • 9 of the last 13 winners had won a Graded Chase before
  • 12 of the last 13 winners ran in a Graded Novice Chase last time
  • 9 of the last 13 winners won a Graded Novice Chase last time
  • 10 of the last 13 winners had 7 or less runs over hurdles
  • 11 of the last 13 past winners had run at the Festival before (5 had won)
  • 12 of the 13 winners came from the top 4 in the betting
  • 9 of the last 13 winners came from the top 2 in the betting
  • 12 of the last 13 winners finished 1st or 2nd last time out
  • 11 of the last 13 winners returned 15/2 or shorter
  • 9 of the last 13 winners returned 4/1 or shorter
  • 3 outright winning favourites in the last 9 runnings
  • 10 of the last 13 winners won last time out
  • 12 of the last 13 winners French (4) or Irish (8) bred (7 of last 8 Irish bred)
  • 5 of the last 13 winners ran at Leopardstown last time out
  • 7 of the last 13 winners ran between 47-54 days ago
  • 7 year-olds have won 9 of last 13 renewals
  • 8 of the last 9 winners rated 151+
  • 3 of the last 13 winners owned by Gigginstown House Stud
  • Gordon Elliott is 2 from 6
  • JP McManus has owned 2 of the last 5 winners
  • 4 winning favourites in the last 10 runnings (40%)

Negatives….

  • Be careful of horses rated 146 or less
  • Just 4 British-trained winners so far, but one was last year (Stage Star)
  • The top-rated horse is just 1 from 13
  • Since 1990 all Festival Novice Chase winners have been aged 8 or younger
  • 4 winning favourites in 13 runnings (1 co)
  • 5 year-olds are 0-from-7
  • Just 2 of the last 12 winners had less than 3 career chase starts
  • Just 3 winners had been off for more than 54 days

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    2.10 - Pertemps Network Final (Handicap Hurdle) (Grade 3) 2m 7f 213y ITV

 

2023 Winner: GOOD TIME JONNY (9/1)
Trainer – AJ Martin
Jockey – Liam McKenna (5lbs)
UK/Irish: Irish

Pluses….

  • Irish have won the last 7 of last 8 runnings
  • Last 12 winners aged 8 or younger
  • Sire Du Berlais has won 2 of the last 5 runnings
  • 9 of the last 16 winners placed in their last race (5 won)
  • 11 of the last 23 winners were from outside the top 5 in the betting
  • 12 of the last 13 winners were rated 138 or higher
  • 12 of the last 17 winners were rated between 132-142 (inc)
  • 11 of the last 13 winners were rated between 138-148
  • 12 of the last 19 winners had won over at least 2m7f
  • 9 of the last 12 winners had run 10 or less times over hurdles before
  • 6 of the last 11 winners ran 7 or less times over hurdles
  • 8 of the last 10 winners returned 12/1 or shorter
  • 8 of the last 23 winners won their last race
  • 6 of the last 8 winners ran at Leopardstown last time out
  • 3 of the last 15 winners finished in the first 5 in the Betfair Hurdle
  • Look for Jonjo O’Neill, Twiston-Davies and Pipe-trained runners
  • Respect JP McManus-owned horses – won it again in 2019 and 2020
  • Trainer Gordon Elliott has won 3 of the last 6 runnings
  • Respect horses with headgear (8 since 2000)
  • 7 of the last 8 winners wore a tongue-tie
  • 7 of the last 8 winners Irish-trained
  • 6 of the last 8 ran in the Leopardstown Qualifier (Christmas)

Negatives….

  • Avoid horses with less than 6 runs over hurdles
  • Willie Mullins has never won this race
  • Horses that have won 3+ times that season have a poor recent record
  • Since 2000 only 1 winner didn’t have a run that calendar year
  • 5 year-olds have won just twice since 1973
  • Just 1 horse rated 150+ since 2000 has finished in the top 2
  • Only 2 winning favourites in last 18 years
  • Just 1 winner in the last 41 years aged 10+
  • Paul Nicholls is currently 0 from 19 (One third and two 2nds in the last 10 runnings)
  • Horses aged 7 or younger and priced in single-figures are just 3 from 50
  • 2 winning favourites in the last 10 runnings (20%)

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    2.40 - Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f 127y ITV

2023 Winner: ENVOI ALLEN (13/2)
Trainer – Henry De Bromhead
Jockey – Rachael Blackmore
UK/Irish: Irish

Pluses….

  • 15 of the 19 winners had won at Cheltenham before
  • 7 of the last 11 winners were 2nd season chasers
  • All 16 winners (since getting G1 status) had won over 2m4f
  • 12 of the last 16 winners had won a Grade 1 Chase before
  • 13 of the last 16 had won or placed at the Festival before
  • The King George VI Chase is often a good guide (8 from 30) (Envoi Allen 2023 ran in that season’s KG 7th)
  • The previous year’s renewal is often a good guide
  • 16 of the last 19 winners returned 13/2 or shorter
  • 9 of the last 12 winners were aged 7 or 8 years-old
  • 15 of the last 16 winners were rated 161+
  • Horse rated 170+ have won 4 of the last 6
  • 4 of the last 19 winners were placed in the top 3 in the Ascot Chase last time out
  • 14 of last 19 winners were fav or 2nd fav
  • 11 of the last 16 winners finished 1st or 2nd last time out
  • 16 of the last 19 winners came from the top 3 in the betting
  • 9 of the last 12 winners had 11 (or less) runs over fences
  • Trainers Jonjo O’Neill, David Pipe & Nicky Henderson are respected
  • Respect first time headgear (3 from 12)
  • 10 of the last 16 winners DIDN’T win last time out
  • Last 10 winners were French-bred
  • All winners ran 5 or less times that season
  • 5 of the last 8 winners trained by Willie Mullins
  • Last 12 winners aged 9 or younger
  • The Irish have won 7 of the last 8 runnings
  • 5 winning favourites in the last 10 runnings (50%)

Negatives….

  • Avoid horses priced 7/1 or bigger
  • No winner aged 11 or older
  • Only 1 of the last 15 winners aged 10
  • Just one winner rated 160 or below
  • Just 6 of the last 16 won last time out
  • No winner was having their Festival debut

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    3.30 - Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 7f 213y ITV

2023 Winner: SIRE DU BERLAIS (33/1)
Trainer – Gordon Elliott
Jockey – Mark Walsh
UK/Irish: Irish   

Pluses….

  • 13 of the last 19 won last time out
  • 7 of the last 10 winners were second season hurdlers
  • 20 of the last 24 winners finished 1st or 2nd last time out
  • 30 of the last 34 winners aged between 6-8 years-old
  • 18 of the last 23 winners came from the top 4 in the betting
  • 18 winners since 2000 returned in single-figures
  • 9 of the last 22 were French Bred
  • Respect the Cleeve Hurdle and Long Walk Hurdle form
  • 8 of the last 17 winners ran in the Cleeve Hurdle last time out
  • 19 of the last 24 winners finished 1st or 2nd in all their hurdling runs that season
  • 14 of the last 19 winners started 10/1 or less in the betting
  • Respect past winners of the race
  • 18 of the last 27 winners had won 7 or less times over hurdles
  • 3 of the last 6 winners ran in the Albert Bartlett the previous season

Negatives….

  • Avoid horses that didn’t finish either 1st or 2nd last time out
  • A 5 year-old is yet to win the race
  • Horses that have lost previously in the race don’t fare well
  • Trainer Willie Mullins has only won the race twice
  • The Irish are have won the race just 6 times since 1995 (but have won the last 3)
  • Avoid horses that were beaten in the race before
  • Horses wearing headgear are 1 from 79
  • Just 3 winners aged 9 in the last 34 runnings
  • Horses aged 10 or older have just one win since1986 (1 from 65), last year’s winner Sire Du Berlais (11)
  • 2 winning favourites in the last 10 runnings (20%)

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4.10 - TrustATrader Plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m 4f 166y ITV

2023 Winner: SEDDON (20/1)
Trainer – John C McConnell
Jockey – Ben Harvey (5lbs)
UK/Irish: Irish

Pluses….

  • 28 of the last 36 winners were officially rated 140 or less
  • 12 of the last 15 winners carried under 11-0
  • Look out for French-breds
  • 14 of the last 19 winners had run from 25th Jan onwards
  • 11 of the last 20 winners had won a race in Feb or March
  • Venetia Williams & Pipe-trained runners should be noted
  • The Pipe yard have won 7 of the last 26 runnings
  • 18 of the last 23 winners returned at double-figure odds
  • 23 of the last 32 winners had run at the Festival before (but 8 of last 12 were having Festival debut)
  • 23 of the last 24 winners had run in no more than 16 chases
  • 9 of the last 14 winners had 9 or less chase runs
  • 19 of the last 24 winners came from outside the top 4 in the market
  • 7 of the last 8 winners were novices or second season chasers
  • 18 of the last 20 winners had raced that calendar year
  • Respect Gigginstown House Stud horses
  • 5 of the last 8 winners won last time out
  • The last 5 winners had won at Cheltenham that season

Negatives….

  • Avoid horses that are yet to win at Class 3 or better
  • Willie Mullins has never won this race
  • The Irish have only sent out 5 winners since 1982, but could be turning with these all coming since 2016
  • Only 3 of the last 20 winners had run more than 12 times (fences)
  • Just 4 winning favourites in the last 18 years
  • Only 5 of last 29 winners won with 11st+
  • Just 2 winners older than 9 in the last 11 years
  • Only 2 of the last 20 winners hadn’t run that calendar year
  • 3 winning favourites in the last 10 runnings (30%)

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    4.50 – Ryanair Mares' (Dawn Run) Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 179y ITV

2023 Winner: YOU WEAR IT WELL
Trainer – Jamie Snowden
Jockey – Gavin Sheehan
UK/Irish: UK

Pluses….

  • A new race (Just 8 renewals)
  • All 8 winners aged 5 or 6
  • 6 of the last 8 winners trained in Ireland, but last 2 UK trained
  • Favourites have won 3 of the 8 runnings
  • 5 of the last 8 winners won last time out
  • 4 of the 8 winners were French-bred
  • 5 of the last 8 winners were top or 2nd top rated
  • 5 of the last 8 winners returned 5/1 or shorter
  • 5 of the last 8 past winners started their careers in France
  • 6 of the last 8 winners had run at least 4 times over hurdles
  • 4 of the 8 winners were unbeaten that season
  • Sullivan Bloodstock owners have won 2 of the 8 runnings (just 4 runners)
  • 4 of the 8 winners have been aged 5 years-old
  • Willie Mullins won the race in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020
  • Owner Mrs Susannah Ricci has won 2 of the last 8 runnings
  • 3 winning favourites in the last 8 runnings (38%)

Negatives….

  • British trained runners are 2-from-57
  • British bred mares are 1-from-28
  • Nicky Henderson is currently 0-from-12
  • JP McManus owned are 0-from-9
  • 7 year-olds or older are 0-from-24

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    5.30 - Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase 3m 2f RTV

2023 Winner: ANGELS DAWN
Trainer – S Curling
Jockey – Mr PA King
UK/Irish: Irish

Pluses….

  • Respect horse aged between 7-9 year-olds
  • 11 of the last 16 winners failed to win earlier that season
  • 10 of the last 12 winners ran off a mark of 137 or more
  • 10 of the last 12 winners rated between 137-143
  • 9 of the last 14 winners returned 9/1 or shorter (top three in the betting)
  • 9 of the last 14 winners carried 11st 5lbs+
  • 8 of the last 13 winners hadn’t won that season
    11 of the last 15 winners ran in February
  • Look for Elliott, McCain, Pipe and Henderson-trained runners
  • Look for horses in the top half of the handicap
  • 20 of the last 24 winners ran over at least three miles in their last race
  • Look for non-claiming amateur riders
  • 8 of the last 13 winners wore headgear
  • 12 of the last 15 winners came from the top 6 in the market
  • Jockey Derek O’Connor 2nd 3 times and 1st in 2019
  • Owner JP McManus often does well in the race (3 of the last 12)
  • 19 of the last 21 winners DIDN’T win last time out

Negatives….

  • Just 6 Irish winners in last 40 years (but have won 6 of the last 10)
  • Horses that fell or unseated that season have a poor record
  • Avoid Paul Nicholls-trained horses – he’s just 1 placed horse from his last 24
  • Trainer Willie Mullins has a poor record in the race (never won it)
  • Horses carrying less than 10-10 have a poor record
  • French breds are 1 from 80 since 2005
  • Jus 2 of the last 19 winners aged 10+
  • Avoid claiming jockeys – 3 from 108 since 2009
  • Just 2 of the last 21 winners won last time out
  • 1 winning favourites in the last 10 runnings (10%)

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Cheltenham Festival 2024: Day 3 Preview, Trends, Tips

Cheltenham Festival 2024: Day 3 Preview, Tips

Day Three, Thursday, and it's out with the Old (Course) and in with the New (Course). Fresh ground then, but plenty of precipitation has tumbled over it so mud lovers aforethought perhaps...

1.30 Turners Novices' Chase (Grade 1, 2m 4f)

Previewed by Matt Bisogno. The Turners is an intermediate distance novice chase and one which, unlike other intermediate distance races, tends to detract from the Arkle and Brown Advisory without ever really establishing its own identity. For some that will be a harsh interpretation but, besides a couple of arguable exceptions (Vautour, Chantry House, Stage Star - I told you they were arguable), there's little on the roll of honour to get the pulse charging. No matter, for every race needs a winner, and I'd be better investing your reading time in that challenge than navel-gazing about the right for this contest to exist.

This season's renewal fits that 'not quite as good as it ought to be' bill to a nicety. The betting is headed by Grey Dawning, trained by Dan Skelton. A 14 length winner of the G2 Hampton Novices' Chase at Warwick last time, he was flattered greatly by that margin: Broadway Boy and Apple Away went at it from the get go, trading blows as though this was a mile and a half sprint. It wasn't, and they cooked each other allowing GD to plod past exhausted rivals.

Still, he must be a good horse, and his previous second to Ginny's Destiny perhaps holds the key to unlocking this race. That was here but on the other track, but Ginny's has run his last four races - all over fences - here, winning the most recent three including one on this exact track/trip. Paul Nicholls will saddle him and Harry Cobden will steer, and he's very likely to try to make all. But perhaps Grey Dawning handles really deep ground better? Certainly his more patient run style could be favourable.

Pick of the Irish is expected (by the market, at least) to be Facile Vega. Trained by Willie and ridden by Paul Townend, he won the Champion Bumper in 2022 and was second to Marine Nationale in the Supreme last year. That form entitles him to win this, except that over fences he's been a couple of beats slower: having won his beginners' chase on soft to heavy, he's been turned over in a brace of Grade 1's on quicker ground. This will be a first run beyond 2m1f for him and, if he stays - the million dollar question - he's got a right chance.

Iroko was presumed out for the season but returns here for a first run since early November. He was a good winner of last year's Martin Pipe and made a highly promising chase debut on his sole spin this term; but that layoff is a big niggle for me.

Gordon Elliott sends Zanahiyr to this, having pulled stumps mid-season on a hurdling campaign and got two chases into him. The first was a novice-y round behind Fact To File, form which might not look too bad after the Brown Advisory - and, actually, doesn't look too bad anyway; and the second was a hard fought verdict over Aspire Tower over a trip too short. Both those races were beginners' chases and this is a big step up in class, for all that he's mixed it with the best hurdlers for three and a half seasons. His fencing inexperience is a concern and he might be slightly better on a sounder surface.

Venetia sends Djelo here. He started off beating Master Chewy in a handicap chase and then won two more chases, the last of which was a G2, before having no chance when completely buggered up by Matata's errant transit at Lingfield in January. Since then, Djelo ran second to the very talented (and probably under-rated) Nickle Back in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Chase: that was on good ground and he was ridden patiently, never able to reel in the runaway winner. But that form fits here, and he's probably a touch over-priced.

I'm struggling to make much of a case for the remainder.

Turners Novices' Chase Pace Map

Ginny's Destiny probably leads, with a few close up, but I'm expecting an even gallop.

Turners Novices' Chase Selection

Grey Dawning is clearly a talented horse and he migh just win, but I don't like his price. Similarly, Ginny's Destiny has a small question to answer on the ground for me and his price doesn't allow for that. I think Facile Vega could take a big step forward for the extra three furlongs, and he's a win only play in case he simply doesn't stay. But Djelo looks the one who will appreciate conditions and is a fat price.

Suggestion: Try Facile Vega win only at 10/3 or Djelo e/w at 16/1.

TIX PIX: 'A' banker and maybe couple of C's

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2.10 Pertemps Final (Grade 3 handicap, 3m)

Previewed by Rory Delargy. The first thing to look for in the Pertemps Final is what runs for Gordon Elliott. He’s had 19 runners since 2017 (including one putatively trained by Denise 'Sneezy' Foster) and has saddled three winners and three seconds in that time. All of those horses were priced at 10/1 or shorter, so we must have maximum respect for the Elliott first string, Cleatus Poolaw.

Cleatus Poolaw has the right profile for a handicap hurdle winner here, being an unexposed novice arriving on the back of a career-best effort when 3½ lengths second of 14 to Noble Birth in the recent Naas qualifier. He’s 9lb higher for that which seems fair given that was his first handicap outing and he ought to progress for it. He has a remarkably similar profile to Delta Work, who won this as a novice in 2018 before quickly proving himself a Grade 1 performer. I don’t think Cleatus Poolaw is in that category, but he’s certainly a must for the shortlists in a race with extra places on offer.

Gaoth Chuil is a second-season hurdler who has run really well upped to 3m on her last two starts at Leopardstown and remains unexposed as a stayer. The British handicapper hasn’t been harsh on her considering she may well have won last time but for a late error, and she is in shrewd hands with Ted Walsh as wily as they come. The one off-putting thing is that the only time she has travelled to the UK, she ran her only poor race at Aintree last spring. Plenty of horses dislike travelling and it’s possible that she’s one, for all a sample size of one is hardly enough to make a conclusion.

Le Milos may prove best of the Brits, with Dan Skelton clearly feeling the return to hurdles could pay dividends with last season’s Coral Gold Cup winner. Of similar merit over hurdles and fences when with Tim Vaughan, he has improved markedly for Skelton and is lower in this sphere than over the larger obstacles, opening up the possibility that he could be well treated. He qualified with a low-key run at Market Rasen and was given a strangely (!) negative ride at Ascot last time. There is no better trainer at playing the handicap system at this meeting than Dan Skelton, and Le Milos is following a typical Skelton route of keeping under the radar before the big meeting.

Cuthbert Dibble is a really likeable sort for Nigel Twiston-Davies, and the trainer has won this race twice before, but the last time was in 2008 and his record of a win and six places from 52 handicap hurdle runners in the last two decades is slightly off-putting. Cuthbert Dibble has won both starts over hurdles this term, but that is not a positive historically, with only Presenting Percy since 2010 having won more than once in the current season (and that wasn’t by design!). It’s also unusual for the winner of this to have won a qualifier with only one of the last 22 winners having done so. In short, Cuthbert Dibble’s connections have been too honest in his campaigning, which is why I’d love to see him win.

Kyntara is one to consider at bigger odds, for all he’s shown his hand to a greater extent. Well suited by soft or heavy ground, he has only had nine starts over hurdles and has looked most reliable, only finishing out of the frame once. Second in the Warwick qualifier, he improved again when runner-up to Emitom last time, and while he’s not had his handicap mark minded, he could still run well for Mel Rowley, whose horses are in good nick at present.

Nicky Henderson has a good record at getting his horses into the frame in handicap hurdles at this meeting, but the abject form of the yard suggests that his runners in this may be pulled out; that said, he’s kept some in on Wednesday, and it’s possible that those (housed away from those who have been running poorly, perhaps?) will perform better, which would shed a new light on things. In the meantime, they need to be left alone.

Pertemps Final Pace Map

Plenty of pace on, as you'd expect.

Pertemps Final Selection

Shortlist: Those highlighted in bold, with Le Milos just getting the nod at current prices.

Suggestion: Try Le Milos at 12/1 each way with extra places.

TIX PIX: A's and B's and C's

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2.50 Ryanair Chase (Grade 1, 2m 4 1/2f)

Previewed by Matt Bisogno. One shy of a dozen very good, but maybe not great, horses line up for this year's Ryanair. The best of them is probably Banbridge, but he's got a problem: the celestial taps appear stuck in the 'on' position and that's simply no good for him. In fact, he probably won't run. If he does line up and it's wet, he's a lay.

The reigning Ryanair champion is Envoi Allen, and he's back to defend his crown. Last season he won a G1 at Down Royal before a no show in the King George en route to this gig; this time he flunked in a Gowran pipe opener and was pipped in the Down Royal G1. His trainer, Henry de Bromhead, will have him at concert pitch now and the long absence wasn't an issue twelve months ago. Now ten, he's not getting any younger, mind.

Stage Star looked to have assumed the mantle vacated by the same yard's Frodon this season. He runs most of his races at Cheltenham, mixing handicaps with Graded chases and winning them all... until New Year's Day, when he pulled up on heavy ground. He'd won the Turners last season and the Paddy Power Gold Cup (handicap) this season, so if you can forgive that P last time he's a player.

Gordon Elliott brings Conflated to this party, dropping back from three miles after two last fence unseats in a row. He also fell in this race two years ago, his most recent attempt at the trip, but he wasn't out of the reckoning at that point. A clear round makes him a win only player, but he's obviously a risky conveyance in that regard.

Winning the 3m1f Cotswold Chase is an unorthodox prep for a tilt at the Ryanair, but that's the path plotted by Capodanno's connections. He'd previously been third to Galopin Des Champs in the G1 Lexus (three miles) and ran in last year's Grand National. Eh? Turning back the clock a little further, Capodanno was 2nd to Bob Olinger over this trip in a soft ground Punchestown novice chase, and if it's really testing ground and they go quick, it could bring him into calculations. There are quite a few if's there, however.

Fil Dor, another for Gordie, has the opposite range problem: he's been racing at two miles since his very high class juvenile days, two sorties beyond 17f yielding a couple of clunks, in the Coral Cup and a Grade 2 hurdle at Fairyhouse. Although he finished well on the first of his two chase starts this term, he just doesn't look to have the requisite stamina.

If you're starting to see a pattern whereby horses that are too slow for the Champion Chase or not stout enough for the Gold Cup drop in here, the presence of Protektorat will do little to disabuse you of that notion. He's run over at least 2m6f on his last ten racecourse visits, and beyond three miles in eight of those. Two and a half miles it is then... To be fair to him, he's been third and fifth in the last two Gold Cups, but he's not an obvious Ryanair winner to my eye.

Jamie Snowden has Ga Law, winner of the Paddy Power a year before Stage Star and, therefore, similarly proven in today's conditions. Stage Star was rated 155 to Ga Law's 142, though. This fella had a quintet of clunks on his CV post-Paddy Power but arrested the decline in style with a win on Trials Day here in January. He's never quite convinced as a Grade 1 horse and one of the Festival handicaps might have been a better play, for all that such a plan was probably blown with the last day verdict.

Hitman's best form is at least at two and a half miles, as when he was second in the G1 Melling Chase at Aintree two years ago. He was also third in this race last year when sent off 22/1 and he handles muddy turf. I can see him skulking around out of the way before running on quite strongly, and maybe nicking a place at a big price.

And what about Ahoy Senor? Well, I'm afraid, what about him? He's not looked the force of old this season and he's little to no form at the trip. He could have a part to play, however, if he gets embroiled in the early pace; such an act might be a hindrance to the chance of Stage Star who habitually goes forward himself.

In the long grass lies Fugitif, trained by the slightly unfashionable Richard Hobson and second in the Plate last year. He's a two-and-a-half-miler through and through, and he has been campaigned almost exclusively at Cheltenham for two seasons now. During that time, his track record is 222413, all but the most recent figure achieved in handicap company. Then, on Trials Day, he ran in the two mile Clarence House Chase, diverted from Ascot, and finished off well without ever having the pace to challenge Elixir De Nutz or Jonbon. He's another who won't be involved early but who could fall into the frame late - and he's long odds at that.

Ryanair Chase Pace Map

Stage Star is most likely to lead but he may not get it all to himself. Should be a truly run race.

Ryanair Chase Selection

It's a really interesting betting puzzle but not an easy one. I'm inclined to take a small win only chance on Conflated, and two even smaller (like, miniscule) e/w plays - extra places, please! - on Hitman and Fugitif. I won't get rich or poor punting that trio but it might make for an interesting watch,

Suggestion: Try Conflated win only at 8/1 and/or very small each way on 25/1 Hitman and/or 33/1 Fugitif

TIX PIX: A's and B's and C's

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3.30 Stayers' Hurdle (Grade 1, 3m)

Previewed by Gavin Priestley, FestivalTrends.co.uk.

All of the last 14 winners had their last run in a Graded race (13/14 in Grade 1 or Grade 2).

All of the last 14 winners had been rested at least 30 days (13/14 46 days).

All bar one winner this century had finished top 4 last time out (exception fell).

13 of the last 14 winners were rated 152+.

13 of the last 14 winners were aged 6-9yo.

13 of the last 14 winners had run at the track previously.

13 of the last 14 winners had run 1-4 times over hurdles that Season (October).

12 of the last 14 winners returned 14/1 or shorter.

9 of the last 14 winners had finished top 2 in all completed runs since October.

8 of the last 14 winners won their last race.

6 of the last 14 winners had their last run at Cheltenham.

No 5yo has ever won the World Hurdle / Stayers Hurdle.

Only 2 horses aged over 9 have won (1986 Crimson Ember & 2023 Sire De Berlais).

All 12 runners stepping up from handicap company have been beaten.

There have been only 6 Irish winners since 1996 and they have come in the last 10 years (Solwhit, Nicholls Canyon, Penhill, Flooring Porter (x2) and Sire De Berlais).

5 of the last 7 winners were 7yo. 7 of the last 10 winners were second season hurdlers.

With four 9yo's, two 10yo's, an 11yo and three 12yo's in the 13 strong line up you'd be forgiven for thinking this is a veteran's race!

Nine-year-old winners are rare with most of those that win being previous winners of the race (Galmoy 87/88, Inglis Drever 07/08 and Big Bucks 09/10/11/12), although Solwhit did win in 2013 on his first start in the race and on his first attempt at 3 miles: there's always a trends busting result somewhere in the history of a race.

Eleven-year-old winners are even rarer with last year's champion, Sire Du Berlais, being the first of that age to prevail since 1986 (Crimson Embers). No ten-year-old has won in the modern era (1972 onwards) or any horse twelveplus (there was a 13yo winner in 1927!). I think it's safest to stick to the 6-8yo age group unless an older horse has previously won the Stayers Hurdle.

That gives us four possibles who all seem to pass the main trends for this race: Teahupoo, Crambo, Flooring Porter and Paisley Park.

As much as I'd like to see Paisley Park turn back the clock and win it for the second time I just think he'll find at least one or two too good as he has done all season. There won't be a more popular winner all week should he manage it but I'm going to reluctantly look to one of the relative youngsters in the field, the 7yo CRAMBO.

He beat Paisley Park in an exciting renewal of the Long Walk at Ascot just before Christmas. Five of the last seven winners have come from that age group, including Paisley Park in his 2019 win, and the selection has done nothing but improve over the last twelve months. He made the transition from decent handicapper to Grade 1 winner at Ascot and, although he'll need to improve again, he looks on an upward curve and more than capable of finding that little bit extra.

SELECTION: CRAMBO 1pt

 

Stayers' Hurdle Pace Map

With Flooring Porter, Dashel Drasher and Home By The Lee all set to go forward, this may be run at quite a fast clip.

Stayers' Hurdle Selection

Shortlist: Teahupoo, Crambo, Flooring Porter and Paisley Park

Suggestion: Try CRAMBO 1pt win at 11/2.

TIX PIX: A's and B's

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Festival Trends

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4.10 Festival Plate (Grade 3 handicap, 2m 4 1/2f)

Previewed by David Massey.

Top of the list for this year’s renewal of the Plate is Theatre Man, for all he’s been well backed in the last 48 hours. That can hardly be a surprise, given his profile, and his latest form - when second to Ginny’s Destiny in the Timeform Novices Handicap Chase at Cheltenham - might already have received a boost earlier in the afternoon. If Ginny’s has won, God alone knows what price Theatre Man might go off. 

He’s only had the three chase starts but has taken steps forward each time, and the way he finished off last time suggests he’s going to enjoy coming off a solid pace. He gets a bit further than this (although on soft ground, he’d not get three miles) and as ever, that’s never a bad thing this week. 

I’d have liked to have seen what Trelawne could have done in the Ultima on Tuesday as regards Crebilly’s chance, as he was last of three behind Jonjo O’Neill’s unexposed 7yo at Exeter and might have given the form a boost. The assumption is that Crebilly has been laid out for this, but Jonjo’s suffered a few reverses in the past couple of weeks and for all the chat is about how moderately many of Nicky’s are running this week, Jackdaws Castle doesn’t appear to be firing on all cylinders either, and he’s easy enough to pass over at around a miserly 4-1.

Henry De Bromhead took no time in getting off the mark this week, winning the very first race, and his Arctic Bresil is the most interesting of the Irish contingent. The Irish used to struggle to win this, but they’ve won five of the last eight renewals and seemingly, like most races Festival week, they are getting the hang of this one, too. Arctic Bresil was, let’s say, quite eyecatching when second to Mister Policeman at Punchestown over two miles last time; he could never get on terms with the easy winner, but stayed on quite takingly for second, not asked for much effort, and looked like he wanted a longer trip. Normally I wouldn’t even look at one that‘s not won over the trip but he’s bred to want this, a half-brother to a couple that won over 2m4f-3m, and since when have the Irish ever taken any notice of trends and stats? 

I’ve desperately tried to crowbar Frero Banbou into this as well, as he’s got his ground and has plenty of Cheltenham form to call upon. Sadly, one of his lesser efforts was in this last year when he finished twelfth, and given he’s not won for over two years, the case for him is thinner than an After Eight mint that's been stepped on by an elephant. Still, Venetia has a decent Plate record, with three winners and two seconds, and I won’t be able to resist a throwaway tenner on the Tote (surely the way to play him) if he’s a monster price. 

And finally, the curious case of Saint Felicien. Well backed for the 2022 Coral Cup, he ran a stinker on bad ground, with connections stating he wanted quicker ground. After an absence of twenty months, he ran a cracker in the circumstances to finish a nine-length third to Facile Vega in a beginners chase at Navan, and although he took another three goes to get off the mark he was quite impressive at Gowran Park last time, jumping a bit cleaner than had been the case. It might be he’s finally twigged what’s required and as an unexposed chaser (this will be his fifth start over fences) he’s open to more improvement. And the ground for all four of those chase starts? According to Timeform - heavy, heavy, heavy and heavy. I’m not so convinced it wants quicker ground...

Festival Plate Pace Map

A Festival handicap. They'll go quick. Saint Felicien and Frero Banbou expected to be up top, and we'll see how long they can stay there for.

Festival Plate Selection

I really like Theatre Man and think he has to go close.

Suggestion: 1pt win Theatre Man 9/2

TIX PIX: A's only, being brave!

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4.50 Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2, 2m 1f)

Previewed by Matt Bisogno. Another of my lesser favoured races of the week is the Dawn Run, but I love the Ryanair, which many people don't, and respect the Stayers' Hurdle - it can't all be golden, can it? This race has thrown some shocks in its time but it looks to have some genuine star quality this time around in the form of Jade De Grugy, Dysart Enos and, notably, Brighterdaysahead.

Let's start with the last named who trained Gordon Elliott has suggested could be the best he's had. I mean, he's conditioned thousands of horses and, I think 88 Grade 1 winners in UK/Ire, so that's a bold shout. If he's even nearly right, she'll win. But let's look at her known credentials rather than the soundbite. She's five from five, two bumpers and three hurdles, and cost €310,000 as an unraced store!

That's because her pedigree is Kapgarde out of Matnie, the mare who'd already produced Mighty Potter, French Dynamite, Indiana Jones and Caldwell Potter, all 150+ RPR horses, although not all of them had run to that level when she was bought. She won a G3 mares' novice by five lengths in spite of a mistake at the last, then she won a Listed mares' novice over 2m5f by 12 lengths without turning a hair. That was on heavy ground and the G3 on soft so it probably can't be wet enough for her.

Jade De Grugy is similarly unbeaten, in three in her case, and she too sauntered home in a G3 mares' novice last time. She'd previously bolted up in a big field maiden hurdle at Leopardstown over this trip and is also proven on very soft turf. On figures, there's little between the two mentioned so far and it's a question of projecting which can leap forward the most in a race where they are both, and many others too, expected to leave current levels of form behind.

Dysart Enos is the one to have achieved the most on the track hitherto. Trained by Fergal O'Brien, she's a Grade 2 bumper winner, at the Aintree Festival last season, a race that habitually throws a slew of future winners. As well as her own three from three form since, second placed - and re-opposing - Golden Ace has won both starts since, and third home Williamstowndancer is three from five subsequently. Dysart Enos's novice hurdle form is all ungraded but she does have a win over the track to her name and on soft ground, too. Most of her form is on quicker sod, mind, and there's a small niggle there.

Jeremy Scott, whose Dashel Drasher has been such an incredible flag bearer, saddles Golden Ace, closest to Dysart Enos at Aintree and a dual scorer at a good ungraded level since. She's by Golden Horn out of a Dubawi mare, so an interesting (blue blood) pedigree. I feel that Golden Horn could be one of the pre-eminent NH stallions in a year or two so it will be interesting to see how this mare goes.

It's quite big prices the rest, led by Birdie Or Bust. Although one must respect everything Henry de Bromhead brings to the Festival, her defeat by Williamstowndancer and whacking at the hooves of Brighterdaysahead suggest she's a lot on her plate. In her defence, she has a 'now' factor about her having won a Listed race last time; that was on yielding, and it will be likely be deeper underfoot, as well as in opposition terms, here.

One rank outsider that should be mentioned is Majestic Force. Trained by Henry, she has had just one run, a rallying win on heavy ground over two and a half miles in a Punchestown maiden hurdle. That's not obviously the answer to this conundrum, but the fact she's entered is interesting even if probably not sufficiently so to merit small investment.

Mares' Novices' Hurdle Pace Map

Three who have made a habit of being close to the front, including Jade de Grugy; but we have scant evidence to go on. Will probably be truly, perhaps strongly, run.

Mares' Novices' Hurdle Selection

Some very promising mares in here, most notably the top three in the market. It's close on what they've achieved so far between Brighterdaysahead and Jade De Grugy, and so the fact that the latter is a point bigger tempts me more than the 'best yet' chat about the former (for all that I doubt that's unfounded). Dysart Enos has a bit to find on hurdles form and there is usually something less considered lurking that can improve into podium contention - that could be Golden Ace or Majestic Force. But this looks very likely to go to the top of the market.

Suggestion: Back 9/4 Jade De Grugy as a credible value alternative to a very promising hype horse in Brighterdaysahead.

TIX PIX: A banker with a few C's

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5.30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup Chase (Class 2 Handicap, 3m2f)

Previewed by John Burke, VictorValue.co.uk. The Kim Muir has not been a good race for favourite backers in recent seasons with favourites (clear & joint) recording only one winner from 12 bets -£8 to £1 stake, 4 placed in the last ten years.

Eight of the last ten winners of the races were returned between 3/1 & 12/1. However, there have been two winners at 40/1, including Chambard in 2022.

Eight winners were ages 7 & 8.

Nine winners carried 11-0 or more. Those carrying less than 11-0 are one winner from 47 runners, two placed. The sole winner carrying below 11 stone was Chambard.

Eight of the last ten winners had an Official Rating 137+.

Six of the last ten winners were running within 30 days of their last start. If you had backed all 63 runners you would have made a £52.5pts profit to a £1 level stake and +100.76 to BFSP.

This year's Kim Muir boasts both an impressive field size and depth. Indeed, one could make a compelling case for half of the 24-strong field.

Inothewayurthinkin appears to have been meticulously prepared for this race and can improve for the step up to 3m 2f. With favourable ground conditions and the talented Derek O’Connor booked, he emerges as a strong contender. However, there are slight concerns regarding his jumping, and his current odds don’t offer much value in such a competitive field. 

Where It All Began recently secured his first win over fences in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown, displaying a preference for testing ground and 3m 3f. Although his chances may be affected by drying ground, he remains nicely handicapped and could be a serious threat if replicating that recent performance. Stablemate Cool Survivor, while yet to win over fences, has won over hurdles (3m) and could improve for today's longer trip.

Angels Dawn, last year’s winner, showcased a return to form with a third-place finish in the Thyestes Chase. However, she’s 11lb higher than 12 months ago and faces a stronger line-up this time around.

Dom Of Mary demonstrated his staying ability when winning the Sussex National (3m 4½ f) at Plumpton two starts back and wasn’t disgraced off 9lb higher when 1 ¾ length 3rd of 8 at Sandown (3m) last time.  A good stamina test will suit, and he’s got scope off his present mark when he gets such a test.

Rapper won a handicap chase over course and distance last January. Mostly out of form since, he returned to something like his best when a length 2nd of nine to Threeunderthrufive at Ascot last time. He needs to back up that latest effort which isn’t certain given his profile, but he’s got each way claims on a going day.

Bowtogreatness remains a maiden after nine starts over the larger obstacles but ran a cracker when 2½ lengths 3rd of 12 to Forward Plan in the Coral Trophy Handicap Chase at Kempton 19 days ago. However, it's worth noting that he didn't display the strongest finishing effort at Kempton, a pattern observed previously. It’s a tough race to try to break the maiden tag over fences but he’s handicapped to be competitive.

Daily Present, despite lacking experience over fences, displayed a good attitude to rally and win on handicap chase debut at Down Royal (3m) last time. The way he finished his race last time suggests a step up in trip will suit and he could be yet another dark horse in the mix.

Lastly, Whacker Clan, a winner over course and distance in October, looks poised to perform well. The runner-up that day, Twig, finished second in the Ultima here on Tuesday. This chap was not seen again until a prep run over hurdles last month, and that run should have put him spot on fitness wise; provided the ground isn’t too testing, he’s certainly one to watch closely. Stablemate Amirite was better fancied in the betting in the Cheltenham race but unfortunately his saddle slipped, resulting in a 4th place finish. On his latest outing he finished 5th of 27 in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. While he seemed to handle soft ground adequately there, his winning performances have mostly been on a sounder surface. His stamina for the 3m 2f distance still needs to be demonstrated, but he's likely on a fair mark.  

Kim Muir Pace Map

It's a huge field handicap chase. They'll go quick.

Kim Muir Selection

Considering the size of the field, it's a race where more than one bet can be justified, and that's my approach. I'm opting against the potentially well-handicapped favourite Inothewayurthinkin, even though he might end up winning. At 7/1 odds I might have been interested, but at 7/2 I'm looking elsewhere. That leaves me with Where It All Began, Whacker Clan, Daily Present, and Rapper.

While Rapper has the potential to win if it's his day, his inconsistency makes me hesitant. However, I might place a small saver bet on him just in case he triumphs at a big price and I miss out. Daily Present appears to be a wise guy horse from Ireland and could attract money, but he lacks the necessary experience for me. Thus, my focus shifts to Where It All Began and Whacker Clan.

Suggestion: 1pt win 14/1 Where It All Began and 12/1 Whacker Clan

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Good luck!

Matt



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