Tips for American bettors playing Royal Ascot's races

June 18, 2019 08:32am
Royal Ascot’s prestigious meet begins on Tuesday, and with each race broadcast on NBC or NBC Sports Network, it will get Americans wondering the best ways to approach betting this event. The handicapping process is more difficult than usual because the races lack traditional past performances.

Class and speed remain factors, although European races do not use the same kind of figures to which Americans are accustomed. European races also lack running lines.

With the data deficiencies in past performances in mind, there is no substitute for watching replays. Americans should study video for domestic races, too, but replays take on far more importance when talking about more unfamiliar runners.

I use Racing Post as a starting point to review a horse’s record. The overseas Timeform website also offers the basic records of each entry and odds. Then, it is only a matter of knowing which stakes are important, an indication of class.

For example, the St. James’s Palace (G1) favorite Phoenix of Spain unfamiliar to most Americans. But it's notable that on May 25 at The Curragh, he won the Irish 2,000 Guineas (G1).

It helps to watch two replays of each horse, in case there are any changes in styles.

Phoenix of Spain contested the pace in the Irish 2,000 Guineas. But he did come from off the pace in the Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes (G1) last October at Doncaster.     

After watching a few replays of each horse, a handicapper can get a feel for the pace as well. This can become tedious if the race contains 16 horses such as in the Queen Anne Stakes (G1), also on Tuesday.

But because some horses come out of the same preps, you can often cover a number of horses by just reviewing a few races. 

In this situation, Le Brivido, Mustashry, Laurens and Accidental Agent are four popular Queen Anne contenders with bookmakers. Each exits the Lockinge Stakes (G1).

Mustashry won in clear fashion over Laurens and Accidental Agent, but as with in American handicapping, the horses that lost possibly used the race as a prep or endured a bad trip. Turf racing requires extra attention to trip handicapping.

Racing Post and TimeformUS offer trip notes in the charts, but it still helps to watch the races and think separately, rather than rely on someone else's comments.

Because the process in handicapping European races is time consuming, it helps to choose a race where some of the horses are already familiar, such as those who have run in the Breeders' Cup.

The best example is Wednesday's Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1), as Americans know the favorite Magical from her close runner-up to Enable in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs.

There are a few other familiar names in the Prince of Wales's. Americans also know Hunting Horn, who finished a distant eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and returned to the U.S. in May. He finished a close fourth Belmont Park's Man o' War (G1) after setting a wild pace.

In my opinion, Hunting Horn does not belong to the class found in the Prince of Wales's. That's something I'll surmise without much research given he's familiar.

Desert Encounter is one we know, too, as he won the Canadian International (G1) last October at Woodbine against a weaker field. He also campaigned in Dubai in the spring, finishing last in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) at Meydan.

Americans do not need to spend a massive amount of time analyzing him, because most of us watched races on the Dubai World Cup undercard. That's another quick toss.  

With Magical’s star status and tosses in Hunting Horn and Desert Encounter, that leaves Sea of Class, Crystal Ocean, Waldgeist, Zabeel Prince and Deidre.

Waldgeist tried the Breeders’ Cup Turf, too, but sometimes horses run differently when shipping that far. Consider his Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) effort, as he ran far better in that race against Enable to be fourth. 

The Prince of Wales's list sounds easier than tackling a 10+ horse field full of unfamiliar names, saving the American handicapper some time.

Europeans bettors do not need to research Royal Ascot races as much because they're already watching the races that lead up to the meet. They're in our Royal Ascot shoes then later in the year when it comes to the Breeders' Cup.

As a side note, monitor which horses are taking money with bookmakers compared to the new pari-mutuel world pool into which U.S. players will wager. The pool is based in Hong Kong and includes a betting public on multiple continents.

While the money will be larger, it also means knowledgable Americans won't get full advantage of biased domestic prices from bettors who don't know European horses as well.

Now, we must play against the world. But, no one knows Royal Ascot races better than handicappers who live in the United Kingdom and regularly watch those races. It still might help to see what bookmakers are thinking.

The main Royal Ascot challenges are dealing with untraditional past performances and finding time to watch those replays. It will pay to settle on only one or two races and attack rather than try to bet every time they head to post.

But everyone tackles this task differently. What are your Royal Ascot tips?


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Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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