The betting ahead of the Royal Ascot top trainers market has a rather one-sided feel to it with the powerful Aidan O’Brien camp as short as 1.29 to land another trainers title.
O’Brien has several big players running for him this year – including the current Guineas winners, Churchill and Winter – plus his unbeaten sprinter Caravaggio, who heads for the Commonwealth Cup, not to mention last year’s Ascot Gold Cup winner – Order Of St George.
Yes, some will make a case for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori as they are sure to fire in 2 or 3 winners but it’s unlikely any of the other yards have the fire-power to trouble O’Brien.
On a separate note it will be nice to see Sir Michael Stoute grab another winner at the meeting – why? Well, he’s currently on 75 Royal Ascot wins and one more will see him become the most successful trainer at the meeting – overtaking the late Sir Henry Cecil.
Also, with 23 wins at Royal Ascot any runners for the Queen are sure to attract plenty of attention as she tries to edge closer to a quarter of a century of winners. Plus, for the first time this year there will be a trophy for the owner with the most successes. Yes, it’s unlikely to be Her Majesty landing that prize with the Ballydoyle and Godolphin outfits the obvious ones to battle this one out.
Anyway, with little value in the trainer market I thought it would be more beneficial to look deeper into certain trainers Ascot track stats and hopefully we can find a few angles to look for – both backing and laying.
J-C ROUGET (Overall, 3-8, 38%): This Powerful French-based yard often send runners over to Ascot and with 3 winners from their last 8 runners then they rarely leave empty handed too. It’s unlikely we’ll see any 2 year-olds from them, but do note their 3 year-olds. Why? Well, that strike-rate improves to an even better 43% (3 from 7) in this age bracket.
WESLEY A WARD (Overall, 6 from 25, 24%): This US-based trained is now a household name at this meeting after raiding these shores – mainly with his sprinters – with a lot of success in recent years. With an overall 24% record they rarely leave empty-handed too. The bulk of their runners will be with their 2 year-olds and with 5 winners from their last 21 (24%) then this is the main focus of their entries, but do also note they are also 1 from 2 (50%) with their limited older horses (4+ year-olds).
SIR MARK PRESCOTT (Overall, 5 from 26, 19%): One of the shrewdest yards around and with a decent 19% record with their runners at the track then their limited runners over the week should certainly be given a second glance. Forget their juveniles as they don’t tend to run many here, but they an okay 3 from 20 (15%) with their 4+ year-olds, but the golden nugget will be if they have any 3 year-olds – they are currently 2 from 5 (40%).
AIDAN O’BRIEN (Overall, 20-118, 17%): A decent overall strike-rate with 17% of the O’Brien horses winning over the last 5 seasons at Ascot, but if we just look at his 2 year-olds at the track then this increases to a much-better 25% (6 from 24). With this in-mind then any juveniles the Ballydoyle team run over the week should be given serious consideration.
JOHN GOSDEN (Overall, 27-174, 16%): Many people will look to the Gosden team as the main threat to Aidan O’Brien landing the top trainers’ title and with an overall 16% strike-rate at the track then he’s sure to be amongst the winners over the week. Unlike some of the other yards he’s also got a consistent spread across all the age groups (so in a nutshell there isn’t many negative age brackets when it comes to John Gosden runners at Ascot.
ROGER VARIAN (Overall, 16 from 97, 16%): The yard based at Kremlin House actually have one of the best overall records at the Berkshire track and with this spread evenly across all age groups then they have a really consistent feel to them. With an improved 19% record with their 2 and 3 year-olds then – if pushed – this age group might be the ones to focus on, but with a 14% record with their older horses too then this is not to be sniffed at either.
SIR MICHAEL STOUTE (Overall, 19-136, 14%): With 75 Royal Ascot wins already under his belt then it goes without saying anything the Stoute camp run should always be respected. They are not a yard that has many juvenile runners at the track as they tend to take their time with their horses. That said, they are 1 from 6 with their 2 year-olds here. With a 13% record with their 3 year-olds then these should be totally overlooked, but they do tend to do better with their older horses – backed-up with a decent 15% overall record (9 from 61) with their 4+year-olds at the track.
SAEED BIN SUROOR (Overall, 16-117, 14%): The founding yard of the boys in blue of Godolphin and over the years they’ve had plenty of Royal Ascot successes. Yes, with the operation now spread across two main yards, plus horses farmed out to other stables like John Gosden then the Bin Suroor stranglehold on the Godolphin horses has eased somewhat over the years. That said, they still have a decent 19% record with their 2 year-olds at the track (4 from 21), plus they also have a 19% record with their 3 year-olds (8 from 42). Therefore, these age ranges are the main ones to focus on, while with only 4 winners from their last 54 (7%) 4+ year-olds then their older horses might be best avoided.
CHARLIE APPLEBY (Overall, 12 from 104, 12%): One arm of the main Godolphin operation and really you’d think their overall 12% strike-rate at the track would be better, especially with the quality of horses they have under their roof. But there is an angle with the Appleby camp. Their 4+ year-olds have an even worse 6% (2 from 36) record, but, in contrast, their 2 year-olds are worth noting. They have a much-better 28% record with their juveniles at the track (5 from 18) so any youngsters they run over the week should be respected.
WILLIAM HAGGAS (Overall, 15 from 157, 10%): Fairly average stats for another popular yard that is sure to have many runners over the week. They tend to do slightly better with their 2 and 3 year-olds with 11% strike-rates, but a word of caution surrounding their older horses as they are just 3 from 50 (3%).
RICHARD HANNON (Overall, 21 from 255, 8%): Another of the big yards that don’t have the best of records with their runners here. Their strike-rate drops to a dire 5% with their 3 and 4+ year-olds, but if there is anything to take away from their stats then it’s to look out for their 2 year-olds. Their record improved to a better 15% (13 from 84) with their juveniles and they are sure to be well represented in that division once again.
MARK JOHNSTON (Overall, 21-222, 9%): Another yard that many punters will latch onto over the week, especially with bundles of runners spread over the week. It really seems to be a numbers game with the yard that have the catchphrase ‘Always Trying’ and with 222 sent to post here at Ascot over the last 5 years (all meetings) then this is further backed-up. However, with just an overall 9% record with their 2 and 3 year-olds it’s not a great return, but this does improve slightly to 12% with their older horses – especially note those 4+ year-olds running in the competitive handicaps.
RICHARD FAHEY (Overall, 7 from 136, 5%): The Northern-based Fahey yard often send runners south to run at Ascot and with a big stable to pick from many punters can get drawn into siding with their entries. However, be warned the Fahey yard have a dire Ascot record with just 7 winners from their last 136 runners at the Berkshire track. They are also currently 0 from 20 with their 2 year-olds here and just 4 from 83 with their 4+ year-olds.
CHARLES HILLS (Overall, 5 from 106, 5%): Another big yard, but another that doesn’t have the best track stats. With only 5 winners from their last 106 sent to post at Ascot then I wouldn’t be rushing to back many of theirs. They are 1 from 25 with their juveniles, and an even worse 1 from 34 with their older horses (4+ year-olds)