The weather isn’t quite bringing that Great British Summertime feel, but with Royal Ascot ready to rock and roll, it’s time for the action out on the track to heat up a week of top-class sport.
They’ll be plenty of punters getting stuck into short-priced favourites with Stradivarius, Battaash and Sea Of Class just some of the names to fit that bill.
However, Royal Ascot has a trend for springing a surprise or two, so Luke Parkinson has taken a look at some outsiders who could present some each-way value over the next few days.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Le Brivido has received plenty of attention in the betting for the opening race of Royal Ascot 2019, but there’s more than just him to focus your betting interest on.
Hazapour, a half-sister to the former Derby hero Harzand, is set to be Dermot Weld’s only runner at the Royal meeting, and he could be one that is well worth following.
He was a Group 3 winner at a mile last time out at Leopardstown, extending his record to two from two at this distance in the process.
Racing fans will likely remember his 5th place effort in last year’s Derby, and if the form book is anything to go by, that might not seem too bad with Masar, Dee Ex Bee, Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior finishing ahead of him that day.
This is only his second run outside of Ireland – the Derby being the other – but if the trip continues to suit, then he’s definitely a strong each-way contender at the very least.
Trainers who we are more used to seeing in the National Hunt sphere have a remarkable record in the Ascot Stakes, with the likes of Willie Mullins, Jonjo O’Neill, Nicky Henderson and David Pipe just some of the names to win this race since 2010.
A name that is yet to appear on that list is Ireland’s Gordon Elliott, who could have a cracking chance this year. He saddles Batts Rock this time around, and he was a winner last time out over hurdles at Downpatrick, which should have just sharpened him up nicely for this.
He’s two from three on the flat since moving to Elliott’s from Michael Bell last summer and with a mark of just 91 on the flat, compared with 124 over hurdles, there could be more improvement to come.
There’s also a fascinating jockey booking of Frankie Dettori, who matched with Gordon Elliott for the first time, seems a partnership worth keeping an eye on.
Continuing the theme of National Hunt trainers enjoying success at Royal Ascot, Willie Mullins might just have a squeak in the Gold Cup on Thursday.
The dual-purpose Thomas Hobson goes for him in the feature race and he has form that suggests he could be in the mix at a big price.
Not only did he win the Doncaster Cup over 2m 2f on the flat in September, but he was also a close second to Stradivarius on soft ground in the Long Distance on Champions Day here at Ascot in October. With plenty of rain around again this week, that could well play into his strengths.
He also reappeared with a runner-up effort in the Group Two Oleander-Rennen in Germany, and with Andrea Atzeni in the saddle, a man operating with a 26% strike rate in the last fortnight, he’s got to be worth considering if you are following our ITV tips during the televised action this week.