Royal Ascot is one of the biggest betting events of the year for bookmakers and they will be falling over themselves to offer incentives and free bets to punters. Take advantage of this competition among the layers by shopping around for the best prices, each-way terms and free bet offers. In the big handicaps such as the Wokingham and the Royal Hunt Cup, for example, each-way punters can usually get seven places rather than the standard four if they take the time to shop around.
Be sure to watch the runners going down to post before the race. Telling signs such as sweating and immaturity can be signs that a horse is distracted or worked up ahead of the race. This is common in the two-year-old divisions where the horses may lack experience and maturity, and especially at Royal Ascot where the field size is usually bigger than usual.
This may sound like an overly simplistic approach, but the point is that Royal Ascot is among the first of the big British meetings to be run at a truly conventional track. Many of the form lines up to this point have come from more idiosyncratic tracks such as Newmarket, Chester or Epsom and they may not translate perfectly. Put an additional emphasis on class when undertaking your form study and it will often pay dividends.
Twenty-five of the last 32 Group 1s at Royal Ascot have been won by horses sent off at 6-1 or shorter. Big shocks are rare, although Accidental Agent did buck the trend with a 33-1 success in the Queen Anne Stakes (2018) and Watch Me at 20-1 in the Coronation Stakes (2019).
Of the 30 winners at Royal Ascot 2018, 11 had won or been placed at Ascot previously – and remember, the two-year-olds would have had little opportunity to go there so that figure is even stronger than it first appears.
With up to 30 runners in the Britannia, Royal Hunt Cup and Wokingham, finding the winner with a single selection is no easy task. With the effect of the draw often being hard to predict in these big-field handicaps, a common tactic is to split your stake and back on from either side of the line-up.
While odds are quite literally the hard numbers of betting, making the best of them is more art than science. Getting the best odds about your selections depends on several factors, including your own approach to betting and the types of horses you tend to back. As such, any advice that can be given has been earned from years of personal experience and your sweet spot will only be found through similar means.
Accordingly, it is always a good idea to watch markets and how they develop wherever possible. That goes for the evening before the Royal Ascot markets right the way along to comparing on-track Ascot betting with what is happening on the exchanges. As with anything in racing, the lessons drawn are all the better if you are familiar with the horses involved. That said, many of the factors in reading the markets boil down to reading the humans actors involved – to paraphrase a quote so beloved by horsemen, the horse cannot affect what price it is.
If bookies are offering prices now, what is in it for them? If someone wants to get a wedge on, when would they do it? What signs might be there that today is The Day when it is all fancied to come together at Royal Ascot? Judging the odds market is something that even the best bettors get wrong more often than other factors. You will back a few that go off five times the price and are never involved. The satisfaction of being an early adopter more than makes up for these moments, though, and even though it stings to see your 8-1 bet get chinned eight hours later as 15-8 favourite at Ascot, the fact you read the market so deftly soon comes along as a bit of an anaesthetic.
A word of warning, though: do not mistake this cold comfort for any sort of compensation. It is surprisingly easy to find yourself looking for horses who will go off shorter than current odds, rather than those that actually represent good value. The two often overlap but are ultimately distinct. Never lose sight that winners are the currency of betting and that beating the market is comparable with nothing more important than grabbing a bargain in the sales.
Read more by purchasing Racing Post Betting Guide for Royal Ascot
Firstly, it increases the chances of finding the best odds available on a given race or event. Why settle for a price when a competing firm is offering a better price? Use multiple accounts to spread your betting bank and take advantage of the best odds on offer. It also gives access to a greater array of markets, such as distance betting, without-the-favourite markets and even spreads for those inclined.
Most bookmakers will advertise a welcome offer which can give you a headstart with free bets. However, it doesn't stop there. Many firms promote loyalty offers which can benefit your betting regularly. Price boosts can give your selection added value by promising to pay a small percent on top of your winnings, whereas loyalty clubs reward regular punters with free bets each week depending on your
Get to know how your various bookmakers operate, when they tend to price up races, in which races they tend to offer more generous place terms, and so on - is a significant head start when it comes to placing your bets. An awareness that, say, Sky Bet tend to offer enhanced place terms on the big handicap on Saturday can make betting that bit more efficient and help whittle down who to place that bet with beyond just looking best odds.