Royal Ascot is held between Tuesday 15th June – Saturday 19th June 2021 and brings five fantastic days of high-class turf racing. This year will of course have a slightly different feel to it as crowds are beginning gradually to be allowed back into racecourses (due to the effects of the global pandemic). A maximum capacity crowds of 12,000 has been permitted this year, which should provide some of the legendary atmosphere at the track that was sadly lacking last year when the 2020 meeting was held entirely behind closed doors. This promises to be one of the most exciting and profitable weeks of the year, with all bookmakers betting very competitively in their early morning prices (with the competition for turnover especially fierce which can provide some terrific value for Beth subscribers).
Place your bets early in the morning of race day
Make sure you always take the top price on offer (using the Beth.bet algorithm to guide you towards the warm horses). Traditionally the Royal Ascot betting market has been extremely strong, mainly on-course with some of the biggest bookmakers in the world coming over to take up their pitches. However, in recent years the action has ebbed away from the track and now takes place mainly on the betting exchanges or on the websites of the bigger online bookmakers. In the morning each day, the margins on offer are extremely favourable for punters, with all of the firms climbing over each other to offer top prices on the fancied horses looking to get money in the ‘hod’ (and entice punters to bet with them over the five days). The shrewd player can shop around in the morning, perhaps playing with best odds guaranteed (and a quarter of the odds a place in their favour on a lot of the races). At all the major festivals the price grids in the morning rarely get close to 100% taking into account the very best prices available. By shopping around and keeping your betting discipline, you really can get value and make it a profitable five days.
Consider horses trained outside the UK
With the huge prize money on offer, the Royal meeting has become a premier global racing event. Not only attracting the best horses trained in Ireland (Aiden O’Brien in particular) but also from France, Hong Kong, Japan and in the last decade or so America (Wesley Ward in particular is a trainer well worth keeping on side with his juveniles running at Ascot). The second strings of some overseas yards can also offer terrific value for punters wanting to play at bigger prices, with all of the runners doing their very best regardless of a perceived pecking order in jockey bookings.
Look for the prominent front runners especially on the round course
Ascot is quite a sharp track with the final turn meaning it is very hard for horses to come into the race from miles off the pace (particularly when the ground rides on the faster side which is inevitable in 2021). Try and find lone front runners who are likely to be able to set their own fractions in an un-pestered lead, as they are often at a huge tactical advantage dictating and then quickening as they swing for home.
Avoid the overhyped, over backed horses
There is no doubt that at Royal Ascot a lot of the betting action focuses around the well-known ‘names’ such as Frankie Dettori or Ryan Moore, or in the training ranks Aidan O’Brien, but in many ways the front of the market is over-bet in races where everything is trying and the racing itself is extremely competitive. Try and look away from the obvious and find bigger prices, particularly overseas runners or those ridden by seemingly second/third or fourth string jockeys – this is particularly notable for Aidan O’Brien’s runners.
The Ascot track is always in immaculate condition with a fantastic covering of grass, with a state-of-the-art watering system ensuring that it is fair all over. However, there can be a pronounced bias towards one side of the track or the other on the straight course and very astute punters will be quick to latch on to this. I remember meetings in the past in early races on the day where high numbers have completely dominated. If you are quick, almost instantly as they cross the finish line, you can look at the later races and back yourself a portfolio of horses who have a favoured draw over the same course and distance (before the prices are adjusted accordingly).
Take advantage of the bookmaker offers
Bookmakers usually go all out for Ascot and you will find a large number of special offers, concessions, free bets and best odds guaranteed available. This is very much a loss leader for some firms over the five days at Ascot with fantastic value on offer if you are able to access unrestricted accounts. Not only are the very best prices rarely above 100% in the morning but there is a huge range of enhanced place offers on the big handicaps. This means your each way betting can be rewarded down to 6,7 or sometimes even 8 places in the huge Royal Ascot fields. This is something well worth taking advantage of if you are a recreational or professional punter, with the odds definitely in your favour.
Study the Ascot form
Royal Ascot form works out again and again particularly in the handicap races here on the straight course. Very few horses are ideally suited to huge field cavalry charges down the centre of the track, and those that are often come back again and again (even if they have been out of form more recently). It is often worth keeping jockey’s such as Jamie Spencer on side over the five days of racing (who usually rides with extreme patience). Backing patiently ridden horses each-way (with the extra places on offer) in the big handicaps is a very profitable system.
Be patient and disciplined
There are five days of racing, and in 2021 there are 7 races every day, so there really is no need to get sucked in and play in every race just because the racing is on television or of the highest quality. Pick your punches using the Beth.bet algorithm to guide you where the best value lies, play only at the best price on offer and look carefully for races where the place terms are very much in your favour.
Track the late market moves
While it is certainly true that every horse is doing its very best and has been trained to peak at the Royal meeting, there is still a big element where the late money will be a terrific guide as to what is about to happen on the track. With unexposed, highly regarded juveniles in particular, the cash in the final few minutes of betting is usually the warmest (playing at a time when liquidity is at its highest on the exchanges and huge sums are matched). Watching the market moves of the Coolmore runners is especially crucial, with some of the biggest players in the game attached to the stable.
Nap of the meeting ‘Starman’
Ed Walker’s progressive sprinter really impressed when winning at York in May, landing the Group 2 Clipper Logistics Stakes in the manner of a top class performer in the making. He travelled strongly and quickened up smartly on eased decent ground, and after the race his very astute young trainer said he really would be much better on fast ground. So, with conditions sure to be on the faster side of good at Royal Ascot, he is my banker of the week for Beth subscribers in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.