How to make it pay during Royal Ascot: the key points to note
Ballydoyle master O'Brien looks likely to provide Moore winners
Racing fans are about to embrace the greatest Flat meeting in the world with the start of Royal Ascot on Tuesday, and here Tom Collins flags up the key punting pointers to look out for during the course of the five-day extravaganza.
The dream combination
If you look at any of the markets for this week, you will realise just how many good chances the powerful team of Ballydoyle have and the best jockey in the world, Ryan Moore, looks set to partner a good number of them – a punter's dream.
There's no point in backing Moore for the top jockey award, nor Aidan O'Brien to be the top trainer as there isn't any juice in either price (1-3 and 2-7 respectively), but plenty of their runners look likely of going off at a working man's price and profit can be made by following the pairing.
O'Brien and Moore had a relatively sluggish start – by their standards – to the royal meeting last year, although they did strike with Caravaggio in the Coventry on day one, and they look to have their best chances towards the end of the week again.
However, they look to have a great chance of equalling last year's first day total with Churchill in the St James's Palace Stakes.
Watch out for Wesley
Everyone knows trainer Wesley Ward is one to be wary of in the juvenile contests and that mindset shouldn't be changed this year.
He has a strong team of colts and fillies to go to war with again and Happy Like A Fool and Arawak are among the fancied runners with big reputations to make the trip across the pond.
Ward became the first US-based trainer to send out a winner at Royal Ascot in 2009 (Strike The Tiger in the Windsor Castle) and then struck again in 5f contest in 2014 with Hootenanny.
This year he runs two fillies, Nootka Sound and Elizabeth Darcy, both owned by Hat Creek Racing, in Tuesday's finale and if staying the trip, can provide Ward a hat-trick of wins.
The trip is a big factor for his runners, however, and it's wise to watch replays of their previous efforts in America to assure yourself they will get home before backing them.
Straight mile specialist
Jamie Spencer has built up a reputation of being a master over the straight mile at Ascot and rightly so.
The top-class jockey, whose customary waiting ride can bring shivers to your spine when he times them right, has notched up victories at the royal meeting in both the Sandringham (Moneycantbuymelove, 2009) and Britannia (Defrocked, 2016) in recent seasons with masterful rides.
Banksea (10-1 for the Royal Hunt Cup) and Gilgamesh (14-1 for the Britannia) are just two chances for the in-form jockey over the week.
One factor that would help punters make profit a lot more than they do would be if they knew which side of the track was preferable. The draw is crucial. Make no mistake about it.
Running home a four-length winner on your side of the track only to be beaten by three runners racing on the other rail can be very frustrating.
The first draw test comes in the King's Stand Stakes, where four of the last five winners have come from a single-figure draw.
Mind you, the opposite stat applies in the Coventry Stakes where five of the last six winners have come from stalls ten to 19.
A good draw is key, but you have to have the horse and a pace to run at. Note where the winners come from in the early races and it could pay its way.
It's always wise to look around at some of the bookmaker offers and, although the majority will be for new customers, they are certainly worth capitilising on.
Some of the best on offer come from Paddy Power, who are offering money back as a free bet if your selection is second to the SP favourite in their selected race of the day.
For new customers, the same firm go 33-1 about Order Of St George (generally the 4-5 favourite) winning the Ascot Gold Cup. The wealthy may think that is a mortgage job, but unfortunately the maximum bet is £10.
Other notable offers include 25-1 on Churchill winning the St James's Palace Stakes (Coral, £10 maximum bet for new customers only), while Skybet are offering a top price promise on all favourites on day one.