Last year’s Royal Hunt Cup saw the Walter Swinburn trained Julienas (right, green and yellow silks) cross the line ahead of 27 rivals. As ever, the 2012 renewal of the race is set to be contested by another huge field, so we’ll cast our eye over the 92 horses that are currently entered in a bid to pick out a couple of value bets, in what is always a tough race to call – but brilliant fun to watch!
First established in 1843, the Royal Hunt Cup is held on the second day of Royal Ascot and takes place over a mile. Open to colts and fillies aged three years and older, it’s not uncommon to see field sizes in the thirties, so finding the winner is quite an achievement!
It’s a good job we like a challenge then. We also like to take a trends based approach, which is an especially good way to start when you are faced with 92 entries. In our quest to bag the winner, we will first build up a profile of past Royal Hunt Cup winners by analysing them and picking out trends which can then be applied to the 2012 field, in order to filter the wheat from the chaff. Once the field is reduced to a more manageable figure, we’ll take it from there.
- All of the last 12 winners of the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot carried between 8st 8lbs and 9st 5lbs
- All of the last 12 winners had an Official Rating of 91 to 105
All of the last twelve winners of the race had carried between 8st 8lbs and 9st 5lbs and just five of the past 20 Royal Hunt Cup winners fell outside of that range. This is a particularly strong trend that simply cannot be ignored. Similarly, all of the last twelve winners had an Official Rating between 91 and 105.
The idea behind these two trends is to find a horse with enough ability to win the 2012 Royal Hunt Cup, but that may also be well handicapped and running off a nice racing weight.
- 11 of the last 12 Royal Hunt Cup winning horses were aged either 4 or 5
Horses aged six or older have a woeful record in this particular race, with just one winner in the past 17 years. It is worth pointing out that the vast majority of horses that line up in the Royal Hunt Cup are aged four or five, so it is obviously more likely that they should win, but in the past 12 years, a little over 70% of participants were aged 4 and 5, yet 92% of winners were from this age range. This trend shows a bias towards the younger horses, so that’s where we should focus our efforts.
- 10 of the last 12 Royal Hunt Cup winners had won a race over a mile or further
- 10 of the last 12 winners had won a Class 3 race or better
- 9 of the last 12 winners had won three or more career races before heading to the Royal Hunt Cup
The Royal Hunt Cup takes place over a mile, so it makes sense that horses with proven form over the trip should be preferred over those attempting it for the first time, or those that have tried and failed. The trends also suggest that a certain amount of class should be preferred, as the majority of Royal Hunt Cup winners had already won a Class 3 race or better (the two exceptions to this rule had placed in Class 2 events).
Furthermore, winning is a good habit to get into. Three quarters of the past twelve winners had already racked up at least three career wins before their Royal Ascot victory, so successful horses should be preferred in our quest to find the 2012 Royal Hunt Cup winner.
- 11 of the last 12 Royal Hunt Cup winners had contested a race in the 45 days leading up to Royal Ascot
- 9 of the last 12 winners had finished in the front two of a race that season, before winning the Royal Hunt Cup
These trends suggest that we should be looking for a relatively race sharp horse, rather than anything returning from a lengthy layoff, while we should also give preference to those horses that are currently in form.
By applying all of the above trends to what is currently a 92 strong 2012 Royal Hunt Cup field, we can dramatically reduce it to just six horses: Bronze Prince, Boogie Shoes, Sagramor, Capaill Liath, Highland Knight and Arabian Star.
We can eliminate Hughie Morrison’s Sagramor right off the bat, as the trainer has already stated that, “Sagramor will probably be kept to at least 10 furlongs, so the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot is unlikely”. This statement came after an impressive runner up finish to Carlton House over 1m 2f in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes.
Similarly, Andrew Balding’s Highland Knight will not go for the Royal Hunt Cup after winning the Investec Mile at this weekend’s Derby meeting. Balding said, “We decided we are not going to run him in handicaps and are going for a Listed race instead”.
At a best price of 26.00 (Bet365), Roger Varian’s Boogie Shoes makes little appeal. The four year old bay has generally struggled in anything above Class 4 races – as shown when running 15th in the Investec Mile this weekend – and its three career victories have come in weak races of little value. I have absolutely no hesitation in discounting this one.
Another struggler in that race was Kevin Ryan’s Capaill Liath, who ran once place better in 14th. A three time winner in Class 3 races, the four year old grey has also struggled in better company, as illustrated by its failure to finish any better than 6th of 22 in Class 2 handicaps, a performance that came in April of this year. Now 3lbs worse off, I’ll be very surprised if this one is capable of winning the Royal Hunt Cup and not even the best price of 34.00 (Bet365) will tempt me.
This leaves me with Michael Attwater’s Bronze Prince and Andrew Balding’s Arabian Star. The former was once with Godolphin, and under John Gosden managed to land a valuable Heritage Handicap at Ascot in July of last year. The five year old also lined up in last year’s Royal Hunt Cup, finishing a disappointing 15th and I suspect he might prefer the slightly shorter 7f trip. At a best price of 34.00 with Bet365 though, I’m prepared to take a small Each-Way gamble.
The horse I really like for the 2012 Royal Hunt Cup though, is Arabian Star. Best priced 17.00 with Paddy Power, the four year old has won five times at distances of 7f to 10f, including last year’s big field Cambridgeshire Handicap. He won on seasonal reappearance, so will arrive at Royal Ascot in the very best of form and trainer Andrew Balding might just be peaking at the right time, ahead of Royal Ascot 2012 (see Highland Knight in the Investec Mile and Side Glance in the Diomed this weekend).
The Royal Hunt Cup
Wednesday 20th June 2012, 16:25