Tony’s Trends – A Data Dilemma for Royal Ascot Day 4 – Will the Trends Prevail for The Duke of Edinburgh Handicap?

After hitting the crossbar on the first day of the Royal Ascot meeting, Day 2 was far more enjoyable. While Isla Kai drifted and was too big to be the winner, he ran a blinder for a place. I feel they need to drop him back to 7 furlongs, where his style and stamina may well be best suited. That is twice I have put him up and twice we have collected the place money.

The other first line selection, Rebel Territory, was a non-runner, so we needed to use a replacement, as advised. What a fall-back option it turned out to be, as Dark Shift won! He was available at 10/1, using best odds at Bet365 at the time of writing, but backed down to 5/1 on the day. His victory means that he is now four from six at the track.

For those who also read the overview of the other races, there was another winner, Eldar Eldarov, who demonstrated the fine line between hero and zero in racing!


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Royal Ascot Day 4

Heading into Day 4, I will not go over the track details, but just remind you there are 33 previous winners in our data set, as we discount the one year the meeting was held at York. Today, we are going to look at another crazy, large field Handicap and once again try to find the needle in the haystack.

However, this time there are just 19 runners declared, so it should be an easier task, right? Well, it’s probably not!!!!

The Duke of Edinburgh Handicap, 1mile, 4 furlongs at 15.40

We again will discount 2005 and review 33 renewals, as there has not been a major change in the winner’s profile since 1988.


The previous 33 winners were aged four years (x 21), five years (x 8), six years (x 3, the last being Zaralaska in 1997) or seven years (x 1, Scarlet Dragon in 2020).


All previous winners carried between 7-09 and 9-10 (in 1988). Given that featherweights are no longer allowed, we will focus on those carrying between 08-10 and 09-10.


Twenty of the 33 previous winners were sent off at odds of 10/1, or less and eight Favourites have prevailed, with six winning in the last ten years.

A further ten winners were returned at odds between 11/1 and 20/1, with just three between 25/1 and 33/1, the last being Scarlet Dragon in 2020.

Therefore, it pays to concentrate on those priced at 20/1, or less, but looking more closely at the top end of the market, including the Favourite.

All previous winners since 1990, who were allotted an OR, were rated at least 77 but not more than 105.The last 20 winners were rated between 87 and 100.All previous winners achieved an RPR of at least 80, but not more than 109. If we exclude Pevensey who had placed in the race the previous year and was being aimed at it again, then the minimum Trends RPR is 94.In the last 24 renewals, just three winners had a single figure draw, the last being Sugar Ray in 2008. Over this period, Stall 12, with five winners and Stall 19 with four winners have been the best draws, including six of the past eight winners.There is more of a Trend for winners following a specific prep route. Many have run over course and distance (The King George in particular, or other races at Royal Ascot over a longer distance).The Investec Handicap at Epsom, or the Qipco at Newmarket have been the prep run for ten of the last 23 winners, with the others running in a Class 2 or 3 Handicap.Only one winner was making their seasonal debut, Rare Rhythm, in 2017. He had run well the previous season over course and distance and was obviously targeted at the race on that basis.31 of the 32 previous winners who had a race that season, had run within 50 days of the race, with most running between twelve and 48 days prior.20 of the last 22 runners placed in the top three on their final start and the others had a mixed preparation over obstacles (Scarlet Dragon in 2020) or were stepping up in trip for the first time (Waverley in 2003).

So, the Trends for this race indicate we are looking for a young, improving sort, ideally with previous form at the Royal Ascot meeting or at least at the track.

I will firstly discount those runners who are too old to meet the Trends:

Kelly’s Dino AjeroLongbournEver Present (who also makes his seasonal debut) Cap Francais

Next, I will remove any runner who has been off the track for more than 50 days:

Kenzai WarriorChichesterTrawlerman Candleford

Lastly, any of the remaining runners who did not place in the top three on their last start will now be eliminated:

Gold MazeState of BlissSir Rumi  Moktasaab

We are now left with six remaining horses to review, which I will discuss in race card order.

Mashoor has travelled over from Ireland, having won comfortably last time out. He is stepping up in trip here, but given the ease with which he dispatched the field in his last race, I’m not too concerned with his stamina. What does put me off selecting him is his draw in Stall 1, which has not supplied the winner since Son of Sharpshot in 1995. That particular horse is a favourite of mine, as he was my fourth winner the very first time I filled a Lucky 15!

Just Fine ticks every box except the draw again, as he been allotted Stall 7. If he was in a double-figure draw, he would be my selection without doubt, as he ran in the King George last year and warmed up with an excellent run at York. He is the Queen’s best chance of a Jubilee year winner at Royal Ascot this week, but that draw is a big concern. To add to the considerations, the last single draw winner was supplied by Sir Michael Stoute in 2008, so maybe, just maybe, especially with six of the last ten winners being Favourites?

Stay Well has been allotted Stall 2 and while he has run well this year, I fear the places are the best he can hope for from that position. He has run well at the course, but I also see him priced as high as 25/1 in places (although others are as low as 16/1) but for those reasons I will have to discount him.

Brilliant Light is another Trends qualifier who has a low draw, having been allotted Stall 4. He wintered in Meydan, running decent races there before returning to win at Ripon. He had dropped to a favourable mark on that day, but while he won on Good To Firm going, I feel he outclassed his rivals in a Class 3 Handicap. A comment by Hector Crouch in 2020 that he would not want to be running anywhere with “firm in the description” combined with his draw means I will have to discount him. I also think he will drift and will be too big a price to be the selection.

Contact was beaten first time out by Get Shirty over this distance, form which has been franked this week in no uncertain terms, as that one beat the Ballydoyle hotpot, Cleveland, on Day 1. The ground that day was soft and would not have suited, as he came out and has won twice since on faster ground, the last time a shade cosily. On a line through Forza Orta, I think he is just going to come out on top of Just Fine. Added to that, his jockey, Ben Curtis, has a hit rate of 19% for all rides, so Contact looks the better option at double the odds.

Cemhaan has improved beyond expectations, if his trainer is to be believed. He won over further last time out and was described as having a nice turn of foot for one who stays so well. My biggest concern here is the form of the yard, who have not had a winner in 45 days, In addition, Cemhaan has been off for 47 days, which is on the cusp of elimination.


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The Duke of Edinburgh Handicap conclusion

I can see why people will back Just Fine who is currently at 7/2, the same SP as three of the last four winners and I would not bet against him. However, his low draw is playing on my mind. I just can’t get it out of my thoughts, ignore or dismiss it!

Contact, who has the preferred high draw in Stall 16 and is more closely matched with the Favourite than the market suggests, is the selection, largely due to the draw.



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Author: Ronald Butler