Rory Delgary looks towards the Royal Ascot and shines the preverbal spotlight on three betting strategies to be aware of.
Oppose cheap speed in place markets
As a general rule, it pays to look for horses who can dominate their rivals, and gaining an early lead is often a big advantage, but that advice goes on the back burner at Royal Ascot, where the fierceness of competition and nature of the track mean that flat-track bullies often meet their comeuppance.
It’s easy to be seduced by horses who win unchallenged in their warm-ups, but for every Lady Aurelia who can blast off and make all at the Royal Meeting, there are a host of speed merchants who have fallen by the wayside.
A piece of advice for layers of short-priced fancies would be to take such horses on at shorter odds in the place market if they have yet to show their ability to battle against high-class rivals, and it’s worth noting that blindly opposing the market leader in the meeting’s premier two-year-old event, the Coventry Stakes, would have cost layers dear, with five winners in the last decade, whereas laying the favourite for a place would have achieved the same number of losers, at a fraction of the odds.
Denaar will be one of the favourites for the Coventry, but looks more style than substance, and could easily come up short, while McErin looks a poor price for the Norfolk Stakes given he was beaten after showing searing speed at Churchill Downs last time.
Beware those drawn low on the round track
There is little in racing analysis which is dealt with as one-dimensionally as the draw, be it by pundits, trainers or jockeys.
Too often we’re told that a low draw is vital due to it providing the shortest route home when the actual evidence of previous race results goes unchecked.
The truth is that a draw close to the rail on many round courses merely invites complacency and trouble in running. The ability to ride his or her own race is a vital part of a top-class rider’s armoury, and being boxed in by other rivals merely leaves more to luck than judgement. A great example of truth trumping theory is the result of the two twelve-furlong handicaps at the Royal Meeting, in which conventional wisdom has it that you must be drawn low to have a chance.
In the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap, the last seven winners have, in fact been drawn in double-digit stalls, and it’s an identical story with the King George V Handicap for three-year-olds, with three-quarters of all placed horses in that period drawn wide.
There is absolutely no fluke about this, and yet when one of the above races is won by a horse drawn in one of the outside stalls, the reaction will be that the winner has performed a minor miracle to “overcome” its wide draw.
Age before beauty in King’s Stand
There is a rule of thumb which says that when summer arrives, it pays to back three-year-olds against older horses, the logic being that they are maturing rapidly at this point, and are favoured by the archaic weight-for-age scale.
That scale was tinkered with last year, but there’s no doubt that younger handicappers will still outperform their more exposed rivals in certain races, but that trend tends to be most obvious in middle-distance races, and there is one type of race in which age and experience comes to the fore, and that’s in high-class races over five furlongs.
That theory will be tested in Tuesday’s King’s Stand Stakes, which is dominated by a pair of fillies in the shape of Lady Aurelia and Marsha. Both are out of the top drawer without doubt, but age is against them in this particular contest.
Profitable was four when winning last year, but nine of the previous 10 winners of the race had been five or older, with the quintet before Profitable all at least six. That’s very unusual in a race of this quality, but true sprinters tend to be a breed apart, and many of them only hit full maturity at such an age. That fact won’t make Marsha or Lady Aurelia run any slower, but the tendency for punters to ignore older runners means that an improving sprinter like Alpha Delphini may be allowed to go off at a bigger price than he should on form.
- Tuesday: 15.05 – Denaar – Place Lay
- Tuesday: 15.40 – Alpha Delphini – Win & Place Back
- Thursday: 14.30 – McErin – Place Lay