The Royal Ascot Festival is one of the highlights of the British sporting summer and runs from the 19th to the 23rd June. Five days of Royal parades, high fashion and, of course, some of the finest horse racing to be seen anywhere in the world. Top class horses from England, Ireland, France, America and Australia will be competing for over £7 million in total prize money.
Top Betting Races at Royal Ascot
There are 35 races over the five days of Royal Ascot, so there are plenty of betting opportunities. Statistics show that over half of the races at the Royal meeting are won by horses which are in the first three in the betting. This is explained by the large proportion of Group races (19 in total) which are for the best horses, usually competing at level weights. This means that a horse rated 100 would carry the same weight as a horse rated 90.
The exceptions are the handicap races where each horse is weighted according to its form. In this case, the horse rated 100 would have to carry 10lbs more weight than the horse rated 90. In theory, the horses are weighted to finish together so finding winners is obviously far more difficult. Royal Ascot features some of the most competitive handicap races of the season including the Royal Hunt Cup and the Wokingham Stakes.
If you are betting each-way (win and place) on these races, look for special place terms. Bookmakers usually pay out on the first four horses in handicaps of sixteen runners or more. At the major festival meetings like Royal Ascot, the leading sports betting sites will pay out on fifth or even sixth place!
Day One – Tuesday 19th June
Ascot racecourse was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne and the first race of the Royal meeting is named in her honor. Group 1 is the highest class of flat race and this is the first of three such events on an opening day. Queen Anne was won by eleven lengths by Frankel in 2012! Fancied runners have dominated this race in recent years with five winning favorites in the last eight.
The King’s Stand Stakes has not been won by the favorite since 2009 and can produce the occasional surprise. The final Group 1 on Tuesday is the St. James’s Palace Stakes where all but one of the last 12 winners has been prominent in the betting.
Day Two – Wednesday 20th June
The only Group 1 on the second day of the meeting is the Prince of Wales’s Stakes. Once again, class is key here with only My Dream Boat (2016) denying the first three in the betting a 12-year clean-sweep.
The big betting race of the day is the Royal Hunt Cup, a handicap over a mile. It is a different story for punters here with only one winning favorite in the last 21 years! The winner of the race has returned an average starting price (SP) of nearly 20-1 over the past eight seasons.
Day Three – Thursday 21st June
The Gold Cup takes place on Thursday which is also referred to as Ladies Day when fashion shares the limelight. The two and a half mile race dates back to 1807, making it the longest established race of the meeting. Although staying races no longer have the prestige of the middle-distance races, the Gold Cup is still regarded by many as the highlight of the week. Her Majesty The Queen’s Estimate delighted racing fans when becoming the first Gold Cup winner in history to be owned by a reigning monarch in 2012.
Aidan O’Brien’s Yeats won this race for a record four consecutive seasons between 2006 and 2009, starting favorite on each of the last three occasions. O’Brien is the leading trainer in the race with seven winners, although Order of St. George was a costly loser for punters in 2017.
Day Four – Friday 22nd June
The Coronation Stakes for three-year-old fillies is one of two Group 1 races on the penultimate day. Once again, the market leaders have a pretty strong grip on this race with 1,000 Guineas form holding up well.
It is preceded by the Commonwealth Cup which was only introduced in 2015. Two winning favorites out of three suggest that this race will follow the pattern of the other Group 1 races at Royal Ascot and usually be won by a fancied runner.
Day Five – Saturday 23rd June
The feature race on the final day of the meeting is the Diamond Jubilee Stakes over six furlongs. Although Black Caviar returned 1-6 favorite in 2012, the race has produced more than its fair share of shock results. There have been two 33-1 winners and a 25-1 winner in the past twelve years.
It is immediately followed by the Wokingham Stakes, a handicap race over the same distance. Just one winning favorite in the past 12 years tells the story here with an average winning Starting Price of 14-1.
Going and Recent Form
Royal Ascot takes place in the height of summer so is usually run on good to firm ground. Owing to the vagaries of the British weather, nothing is guaranteed. If the rain arrives and the ground becomes soft, be wary of backing horses with winning form only on fast going. The draw could also become a factor in large fields as jockeys seek the better ground. Always check the latest going reports and weather forecast.
History shows that recent Derby or Oaks form cannot be trusted at Royal Ascot. Many horses have come to Ascot after running in the Classic races only to fail miserably. Be prepared to bet against these horses in races such as the King Edward VII Stakes and the Ribblesdale Stakes. They may be feeling the effects of a hard race and could be worth opposing. A horse that has been winning lower grade races without being fully tested could provide better value.
Special offers at The Royal Ascot
Royal Ascot is one of the busiest weeks of the year for bookmakers and there are always plenty of special offers. This is a great time to be opening new accounts and it is certainly worth taking the time to see what is on offer. It is always useful to have more than one account so that you can compare the prices and get the best available odds for your selection.
A popular recent trend is for bookmakers to offer massive odds about a horse that is likely to start hot favorite. They do limit your stake but even £1 on a 33-1 winner that starts odds-on is a great way to start your new account! Existing customers can sometimes feel left out in the cold but they can also benefit from specially enhanced odds for the big races at Royal Ascot.
Always search for the best prices before placing your bets. The Starting Price will usually be shorter and most firms now offer a “best price guarantee”. This means that you will be paid out at the higher price, should the Starting Price be higher than the price you have taken.
Royal Ascot is always one of the most exciting weeks in the racing calendar. A little bit of attention to detail with your betting can help to make it a profitable one too!
New to horse racing and betting? Have a look at our guide on how to bet on horse racing, here.
Content Authored by Harvey Mayson