00:45 GMT06 July 2020
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    It's the most unusual Royal Ascot in the event’s 250-plus year history. Because of the COVID-19 lockdown, the most famous Flat race meeting in the world will this week be taking place for the first time behind closed doors.

    While unfortunately, we can't be there in person, we can still watch the action on TV - and hopefully back a few winners. There are no fewer than 36 races to win (or lose!) money on but if we bear in mind certain key factors, we can help tilt the odds in our favour.

    First, there's no form like Royal Ascot form. Rather like the Cheltenham Festival horses that ran well at Royal Ascot before tend to do so again.

    Second, look at the record of trainers in particular races. Aidan O'Brien has won the Coventry nine times. John Gosden has had four Wolferton wins since 2012. Mark Johnston and Sir Michael Stoute have landed the Queen's Vase eleven times between them since 1998 and the Duke of Edinburgh ten times in the same period. Stoute has won the Hardwicke Stakes eight times in the last fourteen years.

    © AP Photo / Alastair Grant
    Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Netherlands' Queen Maxima arrive on the day one of the annual Royal Ascot horse race meeting in Ascot, England, Tuesday, June 18, 2019.

    The third Royal Ascot "rule" is to remember that favourites or horses in the top three in the betting generally do well in the Group races, while in some of the big field handicaps it pays to be more adventurous.

    However this year, things may be slightly different, because a lot of the runners will be having their first outings of the season and so there might be a few more surprise results in the Group races than you'd normally expect.

    Now let's take a day-by-day look at the action.


    The meeting kicks off not with the Queen Anne, which is now the second race, but with the return, at 1.15 pm of the 7f Buckingham Palace handicap, a race last run in 2015. Daarik, representing the top-notch  Gosden-Dettori combo is favourite and could take all the beating if he doesn't "bounce" after his comeback win at Newcastle.

    But this race was renowned for big priced winners in the past so it might be a good idea to have a couple of longer-priced horses too in our portfolio. Two for the each-way shortlist are course-winner Ebury, who should come on a bundle for his recent outing at Newmarket, and Kaeso, who's attracted market support with Oisin Murphy booked. 

    The Group 1 Queen Anne (1.50) has last year's St James's Palace Stakes winner Circus Maximus installed as the warm favourite, and while his chance looks solid it's worth remembering that the last two years have seen this go to horses at odds of 33-1 and 14-1.

    If there’s to be a surprise again this year then who will provide it? 12-1 shot Duke of Hazzard, who ended last year with three straight victories and ran well at big odds in the Jersey, the Jersey winner Space Traveller (20-1), whose trainer Richard Fahey landed the Queen Anne in 2017, and under-the-radar French raider Plumatic (33-1), are three who could outperform their odds.

    John Gosden has won the Ribblesdale (3.00) twice in the last three years and can land the Group 2 for fillies again with Frankly Darling, the mount of Frankie Dettori.

    Subway Dancer with trainer’s daughter Ingrid Janackova Koplikova after his heroics at Ascot.
    © Sputnik / Neil Clark
    Subway Dancer with trainer’s daughter Ingrid Janackova Koplikova after his heroics at Ascot.

    The King’s Stand (3.35) revolves around Battaash. Charlie Hills' crack sprinter is easily the top-rated, goes very well fresh, and the lack of a crowd will suit him but against that he has been beaten on all three starts at Ascot and the market leader hasn't won this for eleven years. If the odds-on favourite does slip up then the impressive Prix de L'Abbaye winner Glass Slippers and Liberty Beach, who’ll relish the stiff 5f, would be the likeliest to benefit.

    It’s been a few years since Sir Mark Prescott saddled a Royal Ascot winner but the Newmarket maestro did land the big staying handicap at Glorious Goodwood last season and his runner in the 2m4f Ascot Stakes (4.40) Land of Oz, makes some appeal at around the 8-1 mark.

    The progressive four-year-old has the benefit of a recent outing when he stayed on at the finish of a 1m6f event at Chelmsford. Dubawi Fifty went close in this in 2018 and has to go on the short-list while Ian Williams won this race with a 12-1 shot last year, so you can't really ignore his two runners Mancini and Blue Laureate. Both have had satisfactory recent outings; both are around the 14-1 mark.


    H.M. The Queen's First Receiver, ridden by Frankie Dettori, would be a very popular winner of the Hampton Court Stakes (1.50) but there are solid statistical reasons for siding with the Royal runner and not just sentiment. Trainer Sir Michael Stoute has landed this three times since 2009, including with the Dettori-ridden Sangarius twelve months ago.

    Mark Johnston is the go-to man in the King George V (2.25), with five wins this century. He saddles four this time, the pick of which could be the Frankie Dettori-ridden King’s Caper, who should improve for his comeback run at Lingfield in the Derby Trial. 

    Royal Ascot winner Japan
    © Sputnik / Neil Clark
    Royal Ascot winner Japan

    Previous Royal Ascot winner Japan (pictured above, photo N.Clark), is a worthy favourite in the Prince of Wales’s (3.00); but this is far from a penalty kick as he was beaten on both his previous seasonal debuts and there‘s only been one winning favourite in this race since 2012.

    Frankie Dettori’s mount Mehdaayih has to step up on what she‘s achieved so far, but the jockey has won the race four times this century, including last year on Crystal Ocean. If further rain arrives then dual course winner and soft ground specialist Addeybb would be a big danger.

    The Royal Hunt Cup (3.35),  has produced winners at 20-1, 16-1 and 25-1 in the last three runnings and there’s been only one winning favourite since Yeast rose to the top in 1996.  Plenty have chances and among those for the each-way shortlist are:  Dark Vision (12-1), Kynren (12-1), Pogo (20-1) and Wargrave (33-1) . The latter’s trainer George Baker won the race with a 33-1 shot in 2013.


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    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Royal Ascot, horses, Horses
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