Rory Delargy: Beware The Rail

5 min


I do love studying the effect of the draw, and for every Chester, which favours those drawn close to the fence, there are plenty of tracks which defy logic with their draw biases, with the shortest route not always the quickest way from A to B.

Ascot’s round course, particularly over twelve furlongs is one such venue, and big field handicaps, such as the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes at the Royal Meeting are routinely won by horses drawn on the wide outside, to the general astonishment of many (or at least those who didn’t check the previous year’s result).

Ascot’s first race provides an opportunity to test the theory, and stall one is occupied by the William Haggas-trained Humble Hero, unsighted from an identical mark when last seen in the autumn. Despite that, and the fact that the otherwise excellent Haggas struggles with his Ascot runners, Humble Hero is a best-priced 8.0 poke for this contest.

I would not back him at three times that price, and he looks a place lay at anything shy of 3.5. Haggas has an excellent strike rate at most venues but is 1-37 at Ascot since 2013, and that’s enough on its own to make punters wary of his runner here.

In the same race, Master Singer can also be opposed in the place market.

I actually napped John Gosden’s charge when he copped stall 15 in the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot last summer, but he ran a stinker behind Atty Persse, who came from stall 22! That run came after a facile win on tapeta, and I was lulled into the logic that Ascot suits horses who have form on the all-weather. He underlined that by finishing well beaten on another visit to the Berkshire track before ending 2017 with a trio of solid efforts at Wolverhampton and Newcastle.

In short, he looks a tapeta specialist and makes no appeal coming out of stall 5, for all his trainer is another of the leading lights.

Finally, Lingfield is another track where the mile-and-a-half trip sees low draws at a disadvantage, and while that in itself is not enough reason to lay Kew Gardens in the Derby Trial, it sees too much of a differential between him and the pair I fancy against him, both of whom are coming from high draws.

The favourite is the clear pick on form, but he’s got that profile by being tried in smart company, and he is up against some very promising late developers here, with both Corelli and Knight To Behold coming from the family of St Leger winners, and both are homebreds running in the colours of those Leger winners, namely Lucarno and Millenary respectively.

Expect them to improve markedly from last-time-out wins, whereas Kew Gardens comes here having been a beaten favourite in similar company.

Recommended Lay Bets:

  • 14:15 Ascot – Lay Humble Hero for a place @ 3.5 or shorter
  • 14:15 Ascot – Lay Master Singer for a place @ 4.0 or shorter
  • 14:30 Lingfield – Lay Kew Gardens @ 2.85 or shorter

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