The withdrawal of Kew Gardens from Thursday’s Gold Cup at Royal Ascot has caused some changes in the betting market. Stradivarius is now the odds-on favourite, but all the eight declared runners are shortening and drifting with the various bookmakers. That suggests punters are confused and not sure if the two-time winner is a back or lay at the best price of -162.5 with BetOnline.
The latest betting market for the Gold Cup is over-round (i.e. price margins favouring the bookie) by about 22%, so there is no value for the punter. However, as Thursday’s race approaches bookmakers will offer better odds in a betting price war. A typical raceday market is compiled with a margin of 2% per runner. Therefore, in theory, Gold Cup betting from the morning of the race should be over-round by 16%.
Stradivarius could have been backed at even money when Kew Gardens was an intended runner. The Aidan O’Brien horse beat the 2018 and 2019 Gold Cup winner in the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day in October. Without his nearest opponent, Stradivarius’s price was cut to about -200. That adjustment meant his percentage share of the market increased from 50% to 66%. However, there was a counter move which saw one or more other runners lengthen in the betting.
Betting on any event is an ever-evolving process. For each percentage drift, there is an equivalent percentage move in the opposite direction. The Gold Cup market will maintain the 2% per runner model until the start of the race. The key question for punters is: will Stradivarius be shorter or longer than the current price by race time at 15.35 GMT this Thursday? There is a good chance that both recreational punters and bigger-staking professionals will come for Frankie Dettori’s mount.
Dettori is the most famous jockey in the world. Punters who backed his mounts blindly at Ascot on September 28, 1996 won a fortune, as the Italian won all seven races on the card for an accumulator paying over 25,000/1. He has a fan club who would back him even if he was riding a donkey against thoroughbreds. The Frankie fans will be all over Stradivarius with modest stakes that in total can cause a price move downwards.
The hardened pros bet with the head and not the heart, and the head says Stradivarius is the best horse in the Gold Cup. The champion stayer over the last two years has achieved a highest Racing Post Rating (RPR) of 123. The second favourite is Technician, which has ran to a best mark of 115. Cross Counter is the next horse in the betting and the 2018 Melbourne Cup winner has achieved a career-high RPR of 119. So, whether using their head or their heart, Gold Cup bettors will be backing Stradivarius.
The absence of Kew Gardens does not quite make a third Gold Cup a penalty kick for Stradivarius, but the horse has a few pounds in hand on race conditions, form and ratings. You may not get -200 near race time, so you should snap up any -162.5 before the expected market move.