There are six new races at Royal Ascot this year which are all handicaps, meaning there are now 13 races of this nature over the five days of the meeting. The most prestigious handicap is the Royal Hunt Cup on the Wednesday. The open nature of the contest is reflected in the betting market, where online bookmakers are going +1200 the field. Some 15 horses are quoted at +1600 or less in the latest ante-post betting. Bets should be kept at a minimum for this one-mile cavalry charge along the Ascot straight. The limited range of weights makes the race akin to a conditions contest.
Bets are speculative at this stage of proceedings, but the trends suggest the two standout runners are Bell Rock and Fox Premier. There were 82 declarations and the maximum field is usually 30 runners. The course has not yet announced the weights, but on ratings these two horses should get a run.
Here are the betting trends for the last 10 winners of the Royal Hunt Cup:
- Average price of almost +1900
- Range of starting prices: +800 to +3300
- No favourite winners
- Only one winner at single-figure odds
- Five winners between +2000 to +3300
In normal circumstances, the Royal Hunt Cup would be subject to a healthy ante-post betting market. However, the late announcement of the weights and the lack of racing means there has been very little activity in the lead up to Royal Ascot.
As a handicap with a projected field of at least 16 runners, bookmakers will settle each-way bets at one-quarter the odds and four places. However, the Royal Hunt Cup is a high-profile race that should get plenty of media coverage. That means some bookies may offer one or two extra places, and that is where punters might find some value.
The Royal Hunt Cup was first run in 1843, so it is well established and there are some key race trends. There is only one multiple winner in the long history of the race (Master Vote in 1947 and 1948). The joint-leading jockeys with four wins each are 19th-century rider Charles Wood and Lester Piggott, who rode his Royal Hunt Cup winners from 1963 to 1976. The winning-most trainer is James Jewitt, who had five victories in the race between 1882 and 1897. James Doyle (2013 and 2016) is the only multiple-winning jockey over the last 10 years and no trainer has won the race more than once since 2010.
The age range of the winners this century is four to seven years old, with four the most popular winning age with 10 wins. The winners’ weight range is 8-08 to 9-05. The last six winners carried nine stones or more, which reflects the tighter handicap and the better class of the leading contenders.
However, the last winning favourite was in 2009 and that is the only market leader to prevail over the last 20 years. The draw is highly significant and only one horse that made the top four payout places over the last six years ran from a single-figure stall. A female horse has won one of the last 20 runnings. No claiming or conditional jockey has won the race this century.
Bell Rock and Fox Premier are both four-year-old male horses which, based on the ratings, should be allocated a weight of over nine stone. Neither horse is likely to be the starting-price favourite and both are under the care of trainers who have not won the Royal Hunt Cup. The respective regular jockeys are Oisin Murphy and Silvestre de Sousa, neither of whom has won the race before.
Serious punters will probably give the Royal Hunt Cup the swerve at this juncture, but trend analysts should be showing an interest in Bell Rock and Fox Premier. Bell Rock has by far the best pedigree and has won over the distance and on the expected going, so he would be the Royal Hunt Cup trends bet.