Tony’s Trends – Royal Ascot Day 2 – Wednesday 15 June 2022 – Trending Tips for The Royal Hunt Cup!

I’m writing my Day 2 Trends piece on Monday, after waiting for the final declarations and draw for Wednesday’s racing to be made available. So that means we are still eagerly awaiting the start of the Royal Ascot meeting and the results from Day 1.

On that note, I have my fingers firmly crossed that we start this week off right and turn a profit starting from tomorrow.

If you have already placed your bets for Day 1, then I hope that you took my advice and have made the best use of Oddschecker. Those who have will know that the best odds and places are at Bet365 right now and there are also plenty of great bookie offers you can look at right here at betting.co.uk.

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Royal Ascot Day 2 racing overview

Day 2 does have some decent Group races, but again, several have cut up. This might make them watch-only events from a betting perspective, especially for the casual punters amongst you. As always, I am taking an objective view and here are my thoughts on Wednesday’s racing.

14.30 The Queen Mary is a wide-open affair and while three Favourites have won, several big priced horses have won too (18/1, 20/1 and 25/1) in the last ten years. The draw seems to favour being on one side or the other, but I have no opinion on the likely winner at this point.

15.05 The Queen’s Vase is a race where nine of the last ten winners were sent off at odds of less than 9/1, with the winner coming from the bigger yards. Nahanni is on a recovery mission, but this race might come too soon and Eldar Eldarov, who is very unexposed, may be worth a second look for Roger Varian’s team.

15.40 The Prince of Wales has really cut up and just four take on the short-priced Favourite Bay Bridge, who will be hard to beat, but is not a betting proposition.

16.20 The Duke of Cambridge is an intriguing race with recent Epsom winner Bashkirova taking on Mother Earth. Aiden O’Brien has not had a winner in this race for the past ten years, so maybe siding with Haggas, who has, could make sense.

17.00 I’m dealing with the Royal Hunt Cup in detail in today’s Trends, so I will not ruin the surprise by giving the Trends pick here.

17.35 The Windsor Castle is another big field race for two-year-olds, where the SPs of the last ten winners have a wide range. Again, it pays to be high or low in the draw rather than in the centre. I have no firm opinion here, but if you’re punting on this one, I suggest you look at earlier results to see if the form has been franked.

18.10 The Kensington Palace is a new race, with only one renewal in the books, so here again I have no opinion.

The Ascot track

You may recall if you looked at yesterday’s Trends that I mentioned the Ascot track configuration, but if not, here is a recap. The track as a whole forms a right-handed triangle, which at full distance is a little over 1 mile 6 furlongs. It’s a fast track, with just minor undulations, but it does present challenges.

What you do need to know is that there is a round mile and a straight mile, which are used for different races across the five-day meeting, so watch this space for information on the track relating to the Trends!!

The Royal Hunt Cup, 1 mile

The Royal Hunt Cup Handicap features a 30-strong field, who will run on the straight Ascot mile. The straight mile has an uphill finish which requires stamina, so it’s worth looking at the form of horses who have run successfully over longer distances for this one.

We will discount results from 2005, as the meeting was held at York and look closely at the other 33 renewals, as there has not been a major change in the winner’s profile since 1988.

Age

The 33 previous winners were mostly aged 4 years (x 20) or 5 years (x 9). There has also been three six-year-olds and just one runner aged seven years, but that one had run well in the race several times before.

Interestingly, eleven of the last 15 winners were 4-year-olds. There were just two 5-year-olds and one winner each from those aged six and seven years respectively.

Weight

All previous winners have carried between 7-07 and 9-06. However, the minimum jockey weight permitted has changed over time. Given that featherweights are no longer allowed, it will pay to focus on those between 08-06 and 09-05.

Odds

Just ten of the 33 previous winners were sent off at odds of 10/1, or less and just three Favourites have prevailed, the last of those being Forgotten Voice in 2009.

Fifteen of the previous winners were returned at odds between 16/1 and 25/1, with a further four between 11/1 and 14/1. There have also been some major surprises, with a 28/1 winner, a 33/1 winner in 1988 and a 50/1 shot in 1990.

It therefore pays to concentrate on those at 25/1, or less, whilst avoiding the Favourite.

All previous winners since 1990, who were allotted an OR, were rated at least 80 but not more than 104.The last 17 winners were rated between 90 and 104.All previous winners achieved an RPR of at least 52, but not more than 111.The last 23 winners achieved a rating between 83 and 111. If we exclude Cesare, whose prep was on unsuitably soft ground, then the minimum raises to 92.Here again, the draw has not helped to focus on winners, as they have come from a wide range of both high and low draws.28 of the previous 33 winners had run between one and four times that season, with three more being seasonal debutants. The last two had run well in the race previously.

Trend review

In short, the Trends indicate we are looking for a young horse who is improving.

I will firstly discount those runners who are seven years of age, or older:

EscobarIntellogentBless HimWhat’s The StoryVia SerendipityHortzadarYou’re Hired (Reserve) Redarna (Reserve)

Next, I will remove any runner set to carry over 09-05, when taking any claims into account. This discounts the following horses:

Magical MorningSinjaariHumanitarianBopedroGreatgadiganAstro KingTempusAratus

I will also take out any runner who is likely to be sent off at odds of greater than 25/1, namely San Andreas, Real Force and Etonian.

Now, I will dismiss any remaining runner who fails on the OR or RPR requirements, or the number of prep runs:

Lunar Space (seasonal debutant who did not run in the race last year)Notre Belle Bete (has run 6 times already)Legend of Dubai (OR is too low)Totally Charming (has run 5 times already)Forest Falcon (a reserve, who has run 5 times already) Bet365

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Discussion

We therefore need to review nine qualifiers, who I’ll work through in race card order, rather than by my preference.

Symbolise qualifies due to Harry Davies’s 5lb claim, but he warmed up for this over an inadequate trip. He ran at Ascot four times last year, placing over course and distance, when unfancied in the Balmoral Handicap last October. The issue is, that the predicted going of Good to Firm is not in his favour, as his best runs here had cut in the ground, so I’ll reluctantly pass him over this time.

Cruyff Turn did not run at Ascot last year, as he prefers fast ground, which he will get here this year. He is well capable of going well and Tom Marquand has been booked to replace David Allen which is another positive.

Desert Peace has taken a similar route to last year’s winner from the Appleby yard. He was running in races at Meydan on the dirt and started just once on turf at Belmont last year. William Buick takes the ride here and we have to take his ability to act on the going on trust.

Isla Kai won at Ascot last year, but was beaten by Magical Morning last time at Doncaster. Whilst he is an improver, he has set things up for closers in his races this year, but he ran with distinction in the Spring Cup, so that ticks a few of the boxes.

Fantastic Fox has won a pair of small field races and looks like he will have a decent run here. However, he will probably find the bigger field less to his liking, as he has finished down the field when tackling this type of race previously. His odds are also likely to be higher than the 20/1 I already see in a few places, which would also discount him from being the selection.

Excel Power has improved this year, before disappointing over a slightly longer distance last time out. He is another who is borderline from an odds perspective, so without knowing whether he will qualify or not, I’ll err on the side of caution and discount him.

Rebel Territory finished behind Isla Kai here last year, but has been impressive the last two runs under Jim Crowley, who is up again here. Rebel Territory and the second placer were well clear last time out and he won a little cosily. This indicated that there is more to come, although he may have too much weight with the penalty. He has filled out and likes to come off a strong pace; a tactic Jim Crowley is excellent at delivering, so he is a player here.

Percy’s Lad is another whose current odds are borderline and look like they will be 25/1, or more, based on the market at time of writing, so I will discount him based on this uncertainty.

Dark Shift was the ante-post Favourite, until being deposed by Astro King recently. He is another who ticks several Trends boxes, having run in the Victoria Cup earlier this year and winning over course and distance in October last year.

In the Victoria Cup he was badly drawn (on the wrong side) and did well to finish just six lengths back. The concern would be that this will be the seventh jockey to take the ride in his last seven runs. Several of those jockeys are taking the ride on other mounts here, but with plenty of places on offer, he is a safe selection to get placed and also has a chance of winning.

The Royal Hunt Cup conclusion

As eleven of the last 15 winners were 4-year-olds, I will make my selection from that age group.

With so many places on offer, I will put up two selections. They met here last year and will now meet again as 4-year-olds, which makes for an interesting contest.

Isla Kai and Rebel Territory are my two selections, subject to their prices remaining at 20/1, or less.

I will also keep a keen eye on the market and might also consider Desert Prince, should there be a need to change my selections based on price movement. Although the Trends favour four-year-olds, he is lightly raced to this point.

If either of the selections were to drift beyond 25/1 over the next 48 hours, then I’d substitute Desert Peace and Dark Shift, in that order. My apologies if this seems confusing, but with so much market volatility at present, I cannot be more definitive at this exact moment.

Lastly…

As always, use betting.co.uk to find the best bookmaker offers for Royal Ascot. Also, with most bookies, including Bet365, going seven places for the Royal Hunt Cup, be sure to look for the value here using Oddschecker.

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Author: Ronald Butler