Located a mere six miles from Windsor Castle, Ascot is the highlight of the socialite’s calendar, and a great place to place a punt on some of the finest horses in the land.
Here’s our guide to pocketing a bit of cash from the elite by picking a belter and looking good while doing it.
What Is Ascot?
Since it was founded in 1711, Ascot has been a key fixture on the aristocratic calendar. The event is held across five days, scheduled this year to be between the 20th and 24th of June, with each day segmented into several different races and events. It tends to attract the upper-crust of the UK, with the royal family in attendance every year and this year’s prize purse projected to be sitting at around £6.5m. It’s an exercise in excess with world-class jockeys, top-of-their-field horses, and an average footfall of 300,000+ individuals consuming 51,000 bottles of champagne, 131,000 pints and 161,000 glasses of Pimm’s.
In short, there’s money to be had.
The event makes sure that paying visitors get their money’s worth – offering a variety of runs for all ages of steeds across thirty races. Over the years, Ascot has undergone continuous renovations and course improvements, but the main fixtures have remained constant. The big race to keep an eye on is the Gold Cup (on 22nd June), where horses aged four or older race across two and half miles with a prize-purse of a stonking £400,000. Other popular races include the Prince of Wales takes where £750,000 is available for horses aged four or older across one and a quarter miles; and the opening Queen Anne Stakes , which offers a prize of £600,000 for a mile-long sprint. These races prove to be big draws year after year, with the track known to be a tough slog for even the most qualified rider; running right-handed with a 73-ft. stamina-sapping climb.
Alongside the storied history of the event, Ascot has gone from strength-to-strength online. The course’s website offers an up-to-date online race-card that gives a living update of runners for each race and event. And any online bookie worth their salt will cover the event and offer any number of incentives to get in on to draw punters to their site.
This means that even with the glitz and glamour, you can place an informed punt online for this auspicious event.
So, What Are Some Good Tips To Find A Horse Worth Backing?
Know your Handicaps: Ascot is famous for attracting the cream of the crop of the racing world, so the seven scheduled handicap races across the event are the perfect opportunity for you to make some serious returns. Placing a handicapped bet is all about being able the predict the positioning of a horse and the inclusion of so many high-calibre horses means that there is more background information available so you can predict their performance more accurately and cultivate an edge. Regardless of who you settle on, make sure that the horse is sitting on 20%+ wins on its last five starts as a rule of thumb. Consider why the horse received its placing in previous races. Is there a legitimate excuse, such as being shunted in a press or does there appear to be form with the issue and which can help add greater accuracy to your bet?
What horse are we talking about: Know the horse and rider. Make sure to check out the parade ring and see the form of the animals before they take to the track. Many of the key races at Ascot are for stayers and a horse that is sweating or burning its energy through stress will be at a disadvantage when it takes to the track. While media attention on the day will be given to the hats and suits on show, use social media feeds such as Twitter or Periscope to get a front row seat to see the form of the horses themselves. And, as always, remember to keep your eyes out for any Cs and Ds on the racetrack. If a ‘C’ is present against their race-card, that means the horse has won at the track before and ‘D’ if the horse has previously covered and won over a similar distance previously.
Know the form: At the end of the day, horse racing will always have an irreducible element of unpredictability and nothing will introduce randomness more than the quality of the ground. Be aware of the weather beforehand, as water can easily saturate and lie on the track and remember the incline that is present – pick a horse that leaves enough in the tank to finish strong and make sure that sprinters are avoided for the more gruelling events.
Any General Racing Advice?
Look for the Wi-Fi: Punting has been transformed by the rise of the internet and even an ancient race like Ascot is no different. As soon as the runners are announced, get online and start researching. There are a wealth of sites and resources you can visit to learn more about the runners and social media can be perfect place to get the latest information about the form of animals of special offers being given by bookies online. With the right suite of apps and tools, you can be the smartest punter on the track. If you’re away from the course, you can take a trip down the pub and recreate the elegance of Ascot in your favourite seat at your local.
Keep your head: Always remember that gala races like Ascot, Epsom or even the National are designed to create an ‘event’ atmosphere that encourages you to go overboard when placing your punt – in the same way that online stores will advertise an embarrassment of deals to draw you in. One of the hardest challenges for gamblers looking to make regular money out of the game is to avoid temptation and stick doggedly to your budget and plan. Remember that the money you place on what appears to be an unmissable sure thing means money out of next month’s betting budget.
Obey the Queen: This one might be tough for anti-royalists, but it’s worth remembering that the Queen has bred and owned horses for years and knows the race inside out – after all, her family founded it! There are worse ways to go than placing a punt on a horse fronted by the Queen – though you’ll not be able to nick a punt from her as she doesn’t gamble (even though she apparently reads the Racing Post every morning over breakfast). Having fielded 71 Ascot winners since her coronation in 1952 – with her horse ‘Estimate’ famously winning in 2013 – Elizabeth’s the seasoned nag to keep an eye on.