With a little under three weeks to go until the start of Royal Ascot 2012, it’s time to get stuck in to finding some winning horse racing tips, for what should be a very special Diamond Jubilee edition of the Royal meeting. First up, we’ll take a look at the cavalry charge that is the Group One King’s Stand Stakes. Last year’s winner Prohibit (right) looks set to line up again, but can he defend his crown? We’re not so sure, and have a 33/1 selection (Bet365) with which to oppose him…
The King’s Stand Stakes has been contested at Ascot since 1860. The race came about when bad weather that year meant that the Royal Stand Plate could not be contested over its usual two mile trip and as only five furlongs of the track were raceable, that was to be the distance of the new race. The title of the race was amended to the Queen’s Stand Plate and was contested every year until the death of Queen Victoria, when it was renamed to the King’s Stand Stakes.
The race was awarded Group One status when the grading system was introduced, but was later downgraded to a Group Two in 1988. In 2008 however, the King’s Stand Stakes regained its Group One status, thanks to the influx of top quality sprinters from abroad in the preceding years.
So who will win this year’s King’s Stand Stakes? It is usually a tricky race to call, due to the large number of participants and at this early stage, there are still 35 horses that could possibly line up on the opening day of Royal Ascot 2012. We need to thin the field a little, so we’ll take a look at recent winners of the race and try to spot any trends that might emerge. We can then apply these to the 2012 King’s Stand field, in an attempt to remove any horses that don’t have the usual profile of a King’s Stand winner.
- 10 of the last 12 King’s Stand Stakes winners had run in between two and four races that season, before heading to Royal Ascot
- 10 of the last 12 winners had won a race that year, prior to the King’s Stand Stakes
- 10 of the last 12 winners had traveled to Ascot off the back of either a win (7) or a second place finish (3)
These three trends suggest that a potential King’s Stand winner should already be race fit, without being campaigned too heavily, and should also be in good form, having won at least one race so far in the year, and preferably having achieved a good result last time out.
- 11 of the last 12 King’s Stand Stakes winners had won at least once over 6f in their career
- 10 of the last 12 winners had won a Group race
These two trends tell us a couple of things about the profile of a King’s Stand winner. First of all, they need a touch of class about them to win this Group One race at the Royal meeting. Ten of the last twelve winners arrived at Ascot with a Group success under their belt already, and the two exceptions to that trend had placed in Group 2 races.
Additionally, due to Ascot providing a stiff test for the sprinters, form over six furlongs is equally as important as form over five furlongs, and as you can see, the vast majority of King’s Stand winners had won races over that distance before lining up at Royal Ascot.
By applying the above trends to the current 2012 line up for the King’s Stand Stakes, we can reduce the field to just two horses that look to have the right sort of profile: Little Bridge and Beyond Desire.
Roger Varian’s Beyond Desire disappointed in his only Group One outing, which came at Longchamp in October. The five year old has since won a Listed Race in Britain by a head, before returning to Longchamp to take the Group Three Prix de Saint-Georges by a short head. Both of those wins came on Good to Soft, but he has won before on Good to Firm, so there’s nothing to suggest he isn’t versatile when it comes to the ground. Beyond Desire will arrive at Royal Ascot in the very best of form and although most bookmakers price him up around the 21.00 mark, Bet365 are a standout 34.00, which looks far too big and definitely worth an Each-Way bet.
In such a large field race, it’s always a good idea to have another option, and I also quite like Little Bridge – a classy looking sort based in Hong Kong. A winner of £620,956 (wins only), the six year old was last seen winning a Group Two race over at Sha Tin racecourse on yielding ground, having won a Group Three on Good ground the race before. Although yet to win a Group One, Little Bridge has raced six times at the highest level – including over trips that simply don’t suit – with his best performance coming over 6f in the Hong Kong Sprint Cup back in December, where he finished fourth (beaten just two lengths). The horse looks destined to win a Group One eventually and who’s to say that it can’t come at Royal Ascot? Bet365 and William Hill are currently the best priced, at 15.00.
The King’s Stand Stakes is always something of a cavalry charge, and there have been a few big priced winners in the recent past, such as Dominica at 16/1 (2002), Choisir at 25/1 (2003) and Equiano at 22/1 (2008). Beyond Desire looks massively overpriced and is definitely worth an Each-Way bet, while I wouldn’t be surprised to see Little Bridge finally get his nose in front in a Group One.
The King’s Stand Stakes
Tuesday 19th June 2012, 15:05