Follow the favourites in Friday Ascot handicaps

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Backing the favourites in Flat handicaps at Ascot over the last five years has produced a profit of £425.20 for a £10 level stake. The market leaders in the two Class 2 handicaps at the track on Friday could improve that return.

Labeebb (15.40) and Tempus (16.50) receive plenty of weight from other runners and have been given decent opportunities by the handicapper. There have been 266 handicaps on the level since 2016 at Ascot, and the favourite has done the business 84 times (31.57%).

The Victoria Racing Club Handicap (1m 2f 121y) and Beefeater Handicap (1m) are both open to horses aged three and older. The forecasted going is good and good-to-soft in places.

The five-year win rate for favourites in Flat handicaps at Ascot for three-year-olds and older is 29.91%. Backing the starting price (SP) favourites blindly in all these races would have delivered a small loss of £30.20 for a £10 stake. Four favourites obliged in the six handicaps for juveniles during this spell.     

There have been 33 handicaps at Ascot since racing resumed in June, which includes Class 2, 3 and 4 races and nursery handicaps for horses aged two. Those races produced eight winning favourites, which translates to a loss of £61.70 for a £10 level stake.

The 2020 Flat season is not normal. There was no racing for 10 weeks, so the markets for the handicaps were less reliable. If you disregard the Flat handicaps at Ascot over the last three months, the five year figures are revealing. The win rate for the SP favourite is almost 33%, which equates to a £10 level stake profit of £486.90. The return on investment is 20.89%.

There are also some differences in the outcomes of qualifying races at Royal Ascot and regular fixtures since racing resumed in 2020. Two from 13 favourites won at the five-day Royal Ascot meeting (15.38%), while six from 20 (30.00%) favourites prevailed at the other four fixtures. The Royal Ascot handicaps are more competitive and the betting is more open, hence the variances.   

Labeebb and Tempus are both listed as the +225 favourites in the tissue prices. The eight handicap-winning favourites at Ascot since the start of June were in a range from +120 to +350. The average SP for these horses is marginally higher than +225. Hence, Labeebb and Tempus have the right market profile to be winning favourites in their respective races.    

The odds trends suggest that Labeebb and Tempus are horses to back. The form also indicates both runners are good betting opportunities. Nine runners have been declared to contest both races, so bookies will be paying one-fifth the win odds for three places if you are looking to bet against the favourites with big-priced outsiders. However, they look rock-solid bets at the early odds.

Labeebb is the bottom weight with just 8st 7lbs and so gets up to 21lbs from the other runners. The horse has won a Class 5 and Class 4 handicap in the last two starts and was demoted from first to second place in his previous run, another Class 5 handicap. Labeebb is progressing through the ranks and looks to be thrown in at the weights at Ascot.

In the other Class 2 handicap at the track at the end of this week, Tempus has 9lbs in hand on the top weight and may be another blot on the handicap. The horse won a similar race carrying the same weight at Newbury last month. Replicating that form could be good enough for another win, and any improvement will make that outcome more likely.

Handicaps can be difficult betting races because, in theory, the weights level the playing field. However, Labeebb and Tempus look good things at the weights in handicaps at Ascot on Friday, with the double paying over +900.   

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