A look ahead to Royal Ascot 2020: handy hints, betting tips and horses to follow
It's the annual event of glitz, glamour, royalty and high quality racing – 2020's Royal Ascot may be lacking some of those characteristics, but top-class equine battles are still on the cards.
With the five-day meeting set to take place behind closed doors this year, and the final schedule yet to be confirmed, an in-depth look at the prospects on the track is somewhat tricky.
Nevertheless, we're determined to help you build excitement toward Ascot's big week, and hopefully steer you in the right direction when it comes to your bets across the five days as winners are welcome at the Tote.
Tote betting at Royal Ascot
As you would expect from one of the biggest events of the Flat racing season, betting interest is massive, with large amounts being bet into the Tote pools.
The introduction of World Pool at Ascot's 2019 meeting meant the betting pools from Hong Kong, France, USA and beyond were 'commingled' into the UK pools.
With money from the international bettors added to the stakes from domestic racing fans, the pools swelled to massive amounts, with more than £500,000 in the Win fund alone for most races.
Additional liquidity in the pools, means the likely differing of opinion could deliver bigger win dividends for those finding the successful horses.
Swinger Bets at Royal Ascot
One bet in particular that was given an added shot in the arm by the introduction of the World Pool was the Swinger bet, which requires bettors to find two of the first three home, in any order.
The bet is particularly popular in Hong Kong (where it is known as a Quinella Place bet), so the pools for the bet were bolstered handsomely. At the 2019 meeting, it delivered some eyecatching dividends:
Albany Stakes: Celtic Beauty (2nd) & Aroha (3rd) paid £1,364.40 to a £1 stake
Britannia Stakes: Biometric (1st) & Fanaar (3rd) paid £939.70 to a £1 stake
While the bet is perhaps not as well known in the UK, it's popularity in other countries shows that there is clearly value to be had.
Backing the outsiders at Ascot
Generally, if you fancy an outsider to triumph at any race meeting, you're often rewarded with a bigger payout if you bet with the Tote.
In 2019, 60 per cent of all winners priced 12-1 or bigger returned a higher dividend than when betting at SP.
Competitive races and big pool sizes mean that at Royal Ascot betting with the Tote can reward those who find unfancied winners.
For example, in 2019, the following showed significant differences in their payout when betting with the Tote:
Coronation Stakes: Watch Me – 20-1 SP vs Tote returns of £33.35
Jersey Stakes: Space Traveller – 25-1 SP vs Tote returns of £48.35
Britannia Stakes: Biometric – 28-1 SP vs Tote returns of £56.45
King George V Stakes: South Pacific – 22-1 SP vs Tote returns of £42.80
Of course, Tote Guarantee means that even if the Tote dividend is less than that of SP, we'll always boost your returns to ensure you are never paid less.
Betting angles at Royal Ascot
Beware the favourites
As previously mentioned, the contests at Royal Ascot are always highly competitive, meaning even so called 'good things' can come unstuck at the Berkshire venue.
There are an estimated 35 per cent of favourites that justify market support and win in UK horseracing, but at Royal Ascot this drops across the board. In the last five years, just 27 per cent of favourites have obliged.
While the 31 per cent of Group 1 favourites going on to win does look slightly better than the overall return, it is still well below average.
Where the favourites really struggle, as you would expect, is in the handicaps, with 23 per cent of the most fancied horses finishing first past the post in these contests.
Of course favourites can, and do, win at Royal Ascot, but here more than many other places, looking for something slightly left-field can be rewarding.
Course form is not everything
Often at these major racing events, looking for horses who have performed at the track previously can be a surefire way to get ahead of the pack.
For example, previous Cheltenham winners are often more strongly fancied to triumph at the Cheltenham Festival than those having their first run at the venue.
Royal Ascot is slightly different however. In fact in 2019, 69 per cent of the winners across the five days were making their course debut.
Even removing the lightly-raced two-year-old winners, 61 per cent of the winners aged three and older had not visited the Berkshire venue previously.
Previous course form doesn't preclude a Royal Ascot victory, with Blue Point and Stradivarius both tasting success at Ascot on multiple occasions before June 2019, but it is by no means a requirement.
Tips for Royal Ascot 2020
As already alluded to, the schedule for this year's Royal Ascot is still to be confirmed, with a shortened event still possible.
Add in that entries for the races are not yet available, we can only judge the formbook on likely candidates.
Nevertheless we've picked out a trio of horses we fancy to run big races in front of the Queen in June.
King Of Change Queen Anne Stakes
Dismissed by many as an anomaly when finishing second in the 2,000 Guineas at a massive price, Richard Hannon's horse returned from four months off last September with a smooth victory in a Listed race at Sandown.
He stepped up again on Ascot's second biggest meeting of the year, Champions Day, when again going against the market to score in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at £12.90.
There's reason to believe the son of Farhh could be even better this season, with half-brother Century Dream (seventh in the QEII) recording his five best Racing Post Ratings as a four-year-old.
In an open mile division, Richard Hannon could have the winner of Royal Ascot's opening race in his stable. With Sean Levey likely to take the ride, he will have a man in good form to bring it home.
Mums Tipple Commonwealth Cup
It's another Richard Hannon horse we're siding with in the Commonwealth Cup in the shape of Mums Tipple.
In arguably one of the most taking two-year-old performances of 2019, Ryan Moore's mount blew the field away to score by 11 lengths in a valuable sales race at York. That came after an easy debut success over six furlongs at Ascot.
Disappointment ensued in the Middle Park Stakes, when the colt could manage only seventh behind Godolphin's Earthlight, who is likely to reoppose here. However, there was an excuse that day with Mums Tipple reportedly finishing lame having been kicked in the stalls multiple times.
If he arrives at Ascot in the same form as he did at York, he could be one to score at a nice price.
One Master Diamond Jubilee Stakes
A drop back to six furlongs for the first time in more than a year nearly paid dividends for William Haggas's One Master on British Champions Day in October. However, the conditions were simply perfect for the now-retired Donjuan Triumphant, who was able to deny the filly a third Group 1 success.
At the royal meeting last year, One Master looked to have made a winning move two furlongs out in the Queen Anne Stakes, only for out-and-out milers Lord Glitters and Beat The Bank to usurp her in the final yards.
If sticking to sprint trips, she looks a prime candidate to pick up the mantle in a Blue Point-less six furlong division, starting with victory in the Diamond Jubilee.
* This article was originally posted on tote.co.uk