Pointers, angles & clues at Royal Ascot: the Royal Hunt Cup....

Last Updated: 08.06.2021

Tuesday, 8th June 2021

Pointers, angles & clues at Royal Ascot: the Royal Hunt Cup….

This time next week we’ll be anticipating Day 1 of Royal Ascot….

For me, it’s the dozen handicap races that take centre stage. Huge fields competing for big prize money produce ultra-competitive races and markets right up my street – where ‘live’ horses trade at big prices....

My mission is to isolate and back those horses. I won’t play in all 12 handicaps next week. But I’ll certainly play all the major ones….

Yesterday, I worked on the Wokingham. Today, it’s the Royal Hunt Cup....

First – a horse that’s ready to strike….

  • This pot is on the boil….

It’s 2-years since Richard Hannon’s Beat Le Bon landed the Golden Mile at Goodwood….

He’s not won since and sits on a losing sequence of 9 on the turf flat – 12 if you include his AW runs….

Losing is no problem. It’s a necessary and unavoidable part of the handicap game….

Most horses have a ceiling on the official rating scale – beyond which they are unable to win or get competitive….

At that point they need to get back down to a rating they can win or compete from – and they won’t encourage the handicapper’s hand without losing a few races first….

Beat Le Bon won at Goodwood off 104 and the handicapper lifted him to 110. Not many horses win handicaps from there….

Hannon didn’t ask the horse to try. It was Pattern races last term – to no great effect. Then a few goes on the AW over the winter. And he’s had four goes on the turf this term (in Listed races and handicaps)….

The upshot is that he’s back down to 103 – a pound shy of his winning mark at Goodwood. And at Doncaster on Saturday in a handicap he ran his best race for a while – building on a good performance in another handicap at Newmarket in April….

The pot is on the boil. The mark is right and the horse is physically and mentally on his game right now. Beat Le Bon goes on to the Watch List

  • The Royal Hunt Cup – a price-hunter race….

The Royal Hunt Cup (run on Day 2)is a C2 event for horses aged 3yo+ up the straight mile. Winning connections take home £110k….

A massive field always goes to post. 23+ started each of the last 19 renewals....

Just a single horse has manged to justify favouritism in the race over the last 19 years – but  an additional 6 winners were sent off 2nd or 3rd in the betting....

Thirteen of the 19 winners were sent off at double-figure SPs – so there’s plenty of encouragement for price-hunting punters….

42 of the 76 placers (I include 5th place on account of field-size) were sent off 16s or bigger....

The average winning SP amounts to 16s....

  • Stand-out stats....

There are a couple of interesting points to note ahead of rooting out selections....

This is one of the biggest, most prestigious, and most fiercely contested handicaps on the programme – and one of the few big British handicaps where winners officially rated 100+ are commonplace....

Eleven of the last 19 editions were won by such horses. That said no horse rated higher than 105 has won during that period....

The field is so big the runners are spread out across the entire width of the track. Where the pace unfolds is key to the outcome. But where you start is important too….

Since 2011 – when  stall numbers at right-handed tracks were revised – 6 of the 10 winners exited stall 21 or higher….

Just two winners started from a single-figure stall – and just three of the 30 horses that finished 2nd, 3rd, or 4th....

We get a more nuanced picture of the effects of the draw when we look at the percentage of opponents beaten by horses starting from the bottom third, the mid-third and the high-third of the draw….

Royal Hunt Cup Draw Stall Info

The majority of winners came from the high-third – as stated above. But the table above reveals that horses in the middle-third perform best in terms of overall % of opponents beaten – and they might be undervalued by a market largely unaware of that fact….

The table below shows individual stall records – with the top-10 performing stalls shaded….

Royal Hunt Cup Stall Info

If you were looking for the most significant section of the draw, the cluster of stalls from 17 to 26 (where just a single stall registers a %btn figure below 50%) must be of interest….

The last 90 starters from that cluster produced 4 winners, 16 places and additional 4 horses that finished 6th. ‘Live’ horses drawn in that cluster might just have something going for them.…

As an aside, Silvestre De Sousa has ridden 7 horses in the race from that key cluster of stalls. None won – but he placed on 3 sent off at 33s, 25s & 50s. Keep an eye on where his horse is set to start from this year….

  • Key pointers....

The Royal Hunt Cup is no place for a horse to ease into a longer trip. Seventeen of the last 19 winners had already won at a mile or further....

Sixteen of the last 19 winners were aged either 4- or 5-years-old. So too were 58 of the 76 placers. There will be no shortage of horses in that age-band going to post. But it’s the area to look most closely in....

In ultra-competitive races like this, match-fitness is an obvious edge. Results bear the assumption out. Only 4 of the last 19 winners had been off the track more than 8-weeks. Just 2 had been off for a three-figure number of days....

There hasn’t been a single 3yo participant over the test-period and horses older than 5 have produced just 3 winners and 18 placers from 167 runners....

If you buy into the idea of individual yards possessing the knack in specific big races, there are three names to be aware of....

John Gosden’s yard produced 2 winners and 3 placers from its last 17 runners with one horse finishing 6th and 3 more horses finishing 7th – no bad return in a race with 27+ runners going to post most years….

James Fanshawe hasn’t managed to find a proper Royal Hunt Cup horse in recent years. But his overall record across the test period reads 2 winners and 3 placers from 8 representatives. If he has one in the race this time, it is worth a detailed inspection....

Jamie Osborne’s last 10 runners produced one winner, 3 places and another two that finished 6th and 7th. That’s some record....

  • The final word….

There’s plenty to be noting down or thinking about there....

I’ll be back tomorrow with more. In the meantime….

Got an opinion? Something on your mind? Want to share? Contact me at: nick.pullen@oxonpress.co.uk

Until next time. Stay tuned....

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd