It was a long week. It was a fun week. It was a challenging week. It was an exciting week. Royal Ascot is meant to test the limits of endurance, spanning as it does five days of fiercely competitive sporting and social action, and the punting has long left its mark on far greater wagering warriors than yours truly.
For what it's worth, then, this post will look back on the week from a tipping and betting perspective...
Verdict: It's a field with reasonable quality and quantity whilst lacking a superstar. Mustashry, the only horse with a 120+ rating, looks over-priced at 11/2, as does Romanised at 40's, albeit in a small Hail Mary context (is it too early to be thinking about the getting out stakes?!). Plenty of others are credible: about ten of these would not be a shock to me, though are considered either less likely or poorer value or both.
Outcome: Mustashry fairly well held, but Romanised endured a horror trip with a wall of horses in front of him. When he saw daylight, Billy Lee and Romanised scampered through it, but all too late. The Racing Post in running comment sums it up:
"Switched right start, held up, headway when not clear run 2f out and over 1f out when switched right, closing behind leaders when not clear run and switched right final 100yds, stayed on but unable to challenge"
Verdict: Somewhat out of my depth here, I won't be straying too far from the head of the market. ARIZONA looked impressive on his second try with only a smart one besting him on debut. He's an unimaginative selection but, representing the eight-time-winning Ballydoyle team, he ought to go close at least at around 5/2.
Outcome: In a tight finish, Ryan Moore cajoled Arizona to the lead and was not for relinquishing it. The other fancied runners, Threat and Guildsman, filled out the frame giving the result a formful look.
Verdict: A competitive and deep King's Stand, and one in which we could easily see last year's 1-2-3 fill the podium again. Battaash is the class of the race but doesn't always bring his A game; likewise Blue Point who is not far behind the favourite on form and was flying when last seen in Dubai. The faster they go the better it will suit Mabs Cross and I think, at the prices, she's the bet each way at 9/1. The likes of Imprimis and Soldier's Call are interesting supporting actors in what is a compelling puzzle.
Outcome: Another race where the fancied runners were to the fore. The repeat bid of last year's 1-2-3 was thwarted on the line by a nose from the re-rallying Soldier's Call. That was another frustrating fourth place, Mabs Cross this time narrowly denied the place money.
St James's Palace
Verdict: This looks the moment when TOO DARN HOT shows his true colours. An outstanding juvenile last season, he's had legit excuses the first twice this term. Whilst going to the well a third time in a little over a month is a big ask, I feel he ought to be able to trade places with Phoenix Of Spain, making 5/2 reasonable. Of the bigger prices, Shaman could be well positioned to nick a place and 12/1 is faintly appealing in that context.
Outcome: Not a race I read well at all. Circus Maximus surprised me back in trip, but the one to take from the race was the previously recalcitrant but highly progressive King Of Comedy. He closed with a rattle to get by Too Darn Hot (running as if amiss, or not trained on) and just fail to peg the winner. A great race but one that I called pretty poorly. Shaman had no real excuses on the day though he wasn't optimally placed before staying on for moderate gains.
Verdict: Impossible as it is supposed to be. Mengli Khan has an obvious chance and 6/1 is not ungenerous. And perhaps one of Time To Study (22/1) or Jukebox Jive (40/1) will offer some excitement for windmill tilters. Get as many extra places as you can!
Outcome: Mengli didn't show up, Jukebox did too much too soon and faded badly; but Time To Study ran a game third. His stablemate at the brilliant Ian Williams' barn, The Grand Visir, claimed the prize, with Ryan and Willie's Buildmeupbuttercup cutting through the field from last to second. Moore got there in time to go by if good enough, but the winner was tough, well handicapped and conditioned to perfection by Williams.
Verdict: There is a horse in here with back class galore, and we don't even have to look that far into the past to find it. Sure, last year's Irish Derby was a weak heat, but LATROBE supplemented that effort with silver in both the Irish Leger and an Australian Group 1 in the autumn. A little slow in coming to hand this spring after travelling around the world late last year, he showed signs of a return to form late in a Group 2 in early May. 9/1 is a very playable each way bet on a horse who should be in the van from stall two.
Outcome: Another fourth place, this time denied second by a nose and a short head, though there was no denying that winner Addeyb was in a different parish. He'd beaten Lord Glitters into second in the 2018 Lincoln Handicap, and here they claimed a Group 1 and a Listed pot between them. Happily, for me at least, some bookies were paying fourth place - and mine was one of them.
Verdict: Very tricky as the volume of runners and limited form available to analyse suggests. I backed Good Vibes after her York win and I think she's still a tickle of value at 8/1. Kimari should be a fun watch but might be scrambling from the furlong pole; and both Flippa The Strippa (16/1) and Final Song look capable of going close. I'll take Flippa and the Vibes each way against the field.
Outcome: The weather continued to replicate my mood as wagers just didn't fall right. Good Vibes was declared a non-runner in the morning, a decent ante-post position sunk. Flippa never really got into it on the slower ground though finished a respectable four-length eighth. She'll win a nice pot on quicker turf later in the season I suspect. Raffle Prize was the first, but not the last, to advertise the claims of a Newmarket fillies' race run in mid-May and was a ready winner under Frankie Dettori.
Verdict: An intriguing heat that is bound to have a bearing on the St Leger market. WESTERN AUSTRALIA is worth backing from the same stake unit (say, 80/20) for both this and the Doncaster Classic, at 7/2 and 20/1 respectively.
Outcome: Dashing Willoughby claimed the prize in a race where the first three were in front almost throughout. Nothing closed notably from the back and form looks precarious to my eye. Western Australia is, I believe, still running...
Prince Of Wales's
Verdict: A good cast with two high class fillies bidding to be leading lady. MAGICAL's fitness edge gets her the nod, though Sea Of Class is feared, her turn of foot a powerful asset in a ten furlong Ascot race. It's no match race, however, and the likes of Crystal Ocean and Zabeel Prince - as well as, heaven forbid, Waldgeist - would only register as mild upsets. 2/1 about the selection is short enough, but I am struggling to see past her.
Outcome: Frankie rode a superlative race here, settling in optimal track position, picking his moment and kicking clear atop an archetypically smart and progressive older horse for trainer Sir Michael Stoute. Magical ran gallantly in second, my nemesis Waldgeist rounding out the trifecta. These are three of the best older horses in training and it will likely pay to follow all three.
Duke Of Cambridge
Verdict: A big field but plenty who either probably don't stay or are probably not good enough. The 'now' filly seems to be RED TEA, whose Curragh form looks decent and repeatable. She takes a little while to hit top stride but finds plenty thereafter so, with the likes of Pretty Baby and Shenanigans expected to take them along at a fair lick, she's a surprisingly warm fancy. 14/1 each way has been taken.
Outcome: I took a strong view in this race and wagered accordingly. Unfortunately, between backing Red Tea and watching the race, the ground changed from good all the way to soft, and that wasn't for her. She remains on my radar - and in my tracker - for a terra firmer day.
Royal Hunt Cup
Verdict: Obviously enormously competitive. No surprise - a little frustration but no surprise - to see any of New Graduate, Raising Sand, Robin Of Navan or Settle For Bay win. But I'm splitting my (smallish, this is bravado betting) stake between King's Field and Clon Coulis. Both seem favoured by conditions, both thrive off a solid pace, and both have quietly ascendant profiles. Importantly, both are around the 25/1 mark.
Outcome: As fiendish a handicap puzzle as you'll find all year, and so close to nailing it. I'd backed Clon Coulis and King's Field, more on the former and mostly win only. Spencer gave the filly a peach of a ride from the back but just failed to get by the tenacious Afaak. When you bet in races like these, finding a horse likely to hit the frame is the art, rather than trying to find the winner; and Spencer's incredible 50% place strike rate in straight mile Royal Ascot handicaps is a number with which to go to war. This would have been worth a tidy sum, but I foolishly understaked the place part.
No verdict - too difficult!
Verdict: It's a very difficult race and one in which I'll be trying to get through the multi-leg wagers only. I think SUNDAY SOVEREIGN looks a legitimate favourite, I can't peg the value of the American or French raiders, and I think A'Ali might be worthy of very small each way support.
Outcome: I had a big enough be on Sunday Sovereign at 3/1, but he was well enough beaten at an SP of 13/8. Value, eh? He ran too free early in the race and just ran out of gas on the testing ground. I'd imagine he'll win again pretty soon if this hasn't taken too much from him. A'Ali won, for Frankie, though of course I'd not backed him. Sigh.
Verdict: I have backed Fox Chairman on the basis of public jockey hearsay. Not big or clever and the price has truncated somewhat, though he's clearly in good form. But the each way play might be 9/1 Headman. Roger Charlton has a blueprint from Time Test and he may be able to execute the same play in the same colours.
Outcome: Fox Chairman got no run until too late and had to settle for second. He might not have beaten the winner, Sangarius, anyway but regardless he's one to keep onside. Headman was a non-runner because of the ground, his owner, Prince Khalid Abdullah, celebrating victory even in that one's absence. Frankie at the double.
Verdict: The market seems to have this about right, making it a match between Fleeting, Queen Power and 'the field' as I write. Fleeting has the more established form - third in the Oaks - but QUEEN POWER might be progressing more quickly. And, in any case, she bring a pretty strong level of ability to the table, too.
Outcome: QP ran a nice enough race though probably unsuited by the ground, now drying out and tacky. Fleeting also backed up her Oaks run, but neither could stay with Star Catcher and her too-darn-hot rider, Lanfranco Dettori.
Verdict: Most of these have to prove they can see out twenty furlongs, and most of them won't be able to. Guessing as to which will is for braver/smarter people than me, so I'm happy to cheer the champ and punt a rag. I hope STRADIVARIUS wins because he's a bit of a dude: keeps finding more, almost toying with top class agitators. For a wager, I'll take the proven stamina of Magic Circle at 20/1 each way.
Outcome: A race to watch and savour, if not simply for the sport of it and for the best stayer of the last couple of seasons, then for the emerging story of bookmaker liabilities on Frankie multiples. Dettori was on the favourite and, despite getting locked in a pocket, when the split came his horse was able to whizz through it. A four-timer and crushing liabilities mounting up on his next ride. Magic Circle plugged on but wasn't good enough.
No verdict - too difficult.
Outcome: Dettori's mount, Turgenev, shortened from an early 12/1 into 7/2 favourite, though that probably didn't reflect the full horror implications of a Frankie five-up. When the artificially short jolly surged clear at the furlong it was looking like Armageddon for bookmakers. But Harry Bentley timed his run on Biometric better and gunned down Frankie in the last 100 yards. Trading rooms around Europe exhaled a mighty collective sigh of relief.
King George V
Verdict: Aidan O'Brien has a strong hand in this, his Constantinople the penalised class of the field. I'll chance the London Gold Cup form, however, in the shape of Sinjaari each way. From that same race, the Hail Mary play is Majestic Dawn at 33/1 or so.
Outcome: Constantinople looked to be landing some nice bets until his stablemate, South Pacific, outstayed him in the run to the line. It might be argued that Ryan Moore went too soon this time but, in truth, when you're racing uphill at the end of a well run handicap, you just have to keep rolling. Coolmore, specifically Derrick Smith, enjoyed the sight of their/his colours copping the trifecta.
Sinjaari ran respectably, having been kept isolated out wide for much of the race, a manoeuvre I'm not convinced was a positive. Majestic Dawn also ran well but folded in the final furlong.
Verdict: I'm using the small Wes sample of previous failures to overlook his pair, which might prove daft by 2.40pm. But that leaves a once-raced unbeaten filly whose closest rival that day won at Royal Ascot earlier in the week. And DAAHYEH is 6/1, an each way price. For the windmill tilters, Kemble's form has been franked and her pedigree says six could be better, making 25/1 (or anything north of 16/1) fair each way.
Outcome: Daahyeh was a welcome winner and portended a change of fortune. She had beaten Raffle Prize in that Newmarket novice, form that looks rock hard now. An SP of 4/1 was not as good as the early 6/1, a feature of my Friday wagers and testament to the merit of shopping around.
Third at Newmarket was a filly called Declaring Love, unraced since and possibly one for the tracker.
King Edward VII
Verdict: The Derby form is already working out well so, given that on another day JAPAN might have won, he looks the most likely winner. He stays well, has been looked after thus far, and I think he'll prove tough to beat. Of the each way prices, Humanitarian is a tempting price at 16/1 to maybe sneak a place.
Outcome: Japan was an impressive winner, and at an impressive SP of 6/4. I had a little bet on him at that price having expected to pass the race. He was over-priced for the Arc at 25/1 immediately afterwards, a price I availed of to win £900 should he a) get to Longchamp and b) prevail. At the time, I tweeted the below, the nation of Nippon still awaiting its maiden Paris October triumph.
25/1 for the Arc.
The irony of Japan finally winning the big autumn showpiece...
— Matt Bisogno (@MattBisogno) June 21, 2019
Verdict: Another very good race for the Commonwealth Cup, though perhaps not as classy as we've come to expect. Ten Sovereigns is an obvious pick at a short price, but this looks a reasonable each way betting heat. In that context, I'll chance Advertise, whose price of 11/1 in places looks generous for a horse with his overall profile.
Outcome: Writing stuff in public is a difficult task, and a responsible one. So when you call it right, the vicarious thrill is generally better than any personal gain. This was one such occasion. It was a third winner on the day for the preview, and 11/1 early morphed into 8/1 on track. Still tidy value, but 37.5% less so. These are the margins by which a winning punter beats a losing punter at the end of the year. Get the best price you can. Always.
Advertise reverted to his juvenile sprinting distance and connections were rewarded with another Group 1 success. He'll stay sprinting now, obvs.
Verdict: The only thing likely to beat HERMOSA is a third top class race in seven weeks. True she has to race around a turn here, but with her catch-me-if-you-can style that should enable her to control things all the better. It is tough to envisage beaten rivals from either the English or Irish Guineas trading places, so the main danger - and the best each way play - might be the unbeaten French Guineas winner, Castle Lady. Possessed of a turn of foot and requisite stamina, the general 15/2 (8/1 in a place) at time of writing looks worth taking.
Outcome: This is the one race all week that frustrated most. My 'working out' was bob on: Hermosa the cream of the crop but had had a busy campaign already; the French have a fine record in the race. But... I didn't do my bloody homework properly. I actually went to france-galop.com and watched the Pouliches - French 1000 Guineas - but I only had eyes for the Godolphin filly, Castle Lady. To be brutally honest, and for this I apologise, I'd not even noticed the other filly was in either race. She won. Merde, as they say.
Hermosa ran another great race. She'll presumably have a break prior to an autumn campaign. Castle Lady also ran all right, finishing a four-length fifth having been a little racy early and then too far back, though she couldn't pick up in the ground.
Verdict: A few with good form and who might be some way better than their current marks. I'm mostly drawn to the prospects of Nonchalance (7/1) and especially HOTSY TOTSY. Both could easily be Group performers by the end of the season, the former having that 'now' quality after a win less than two weeks ago. The latter has the 'could be anything' tag following two races where she's simply laughed at opposition that has subsequently come out and won races. She's 9/1 generally.
Outcome: Nonchalance was a big drifter in the morning before being backed to 8/1 on course but presumably didn't handle the ground or the track. She was nearly last. By contrast, under another patient Spencer ride, Hotsy Totsy came with an exciting charge through the field but just couldn't quite get to the first two. The winner, Thanks Be, was the first Royal Ascot winner ridden by a lady rider for 30 years and, it must be hoped, that it will not be 30 months before the next. The reality, however, is that in the last five years, 69 of the 150 races run (46%) have been won by just four riders; and one of those was out injured this year! It is very much a closed shop.
Duke Of Edinburgh
Verdict: Another big field race where history is a good way to whittle the possibles, but may also remove the winner. Baghdad has an obvious chance, as does Fujaira Prince, with slight preference for the former. At bigger prices, Lucius Tiberius has a similar profile to Charlie Appleby's previous winner of the race, Rare Rhythm, and might be worth a small each way coincidence swipe at 20/1.
Outcome: Another winner and another early price smashing up SP. As you can see from the images below - I hope they add colour rather than appear 'gloaty' (there's not a huge amount about which to gloat in any case!) - 7/1 was freely available which is approximately 100% better than the SP of 7/2. Lucius Tiberius ran OK finishing a staying on six-length tenth of 19.
I've taken screen grabs of all the accounts I used last week so you can see, warts and all, how I played it. Coral are my bogey account, I almost never seem to back a winner with them, as you'll see!
A couple of other notes: I use Betfair's exchange mainly for 'action bets', general mucking around, or for hedging positions. So those three losers in the Irish race actually meant I copped for £500 on another bet as you'll read in the next para.
The final thing to mention is that I was placing syndicate bets with Colossus each day from Tuesday to Saturday. We got a return on all bar Tuesday's (down on the first leg, like most people), though it was a negative return on Saturday (i.e. didn't cover stakes). In the weekly profit of £1000 listed on the Colossus screen grab, about 40% of that came from a little Win 4 bet I placed at an Irish meeting so that can be deducted from the numbers if you're actually counting!
It was a super week, and one where punting patience paid. After a tough to take Tuesday and a woeful Wednesday, things improved Thursday through Saturday. I hope your week was as good as mine, on a sporting level if not a punting one!
p.s. if you followed Stat of the Day, five winners out of six bets, it may very well have been better!!! See Chris's latest weekly update.