Royal Ascot Handicaps 2022: Royal Hunt Cup

June 14th, 2022

* If you followed the tips on TwinSpires Edge for yesterday's big handicap at Royal Ascot, the Ascot Stakes, you'll be about $580 better off. Our $10 win and place prediction, #3 Coltrane, won at 15-1, and the suggested $1 trifecta of 3, 13 with 3, 13, with 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 12, 18 (total cost $14) came in and paid $424.80 for $1. Only the $10 place prediction, Rock Eagle, did not provide a return.

The handicap highlight of Day 2 at Royal Ascot is the Royal Hunt Cup. With a minimum £175,000 (about $210,000) in purse money, the Royal Hunt Cup is the equal-most valuable handicap at the meeting.

Run over a mile down the straight course, the Royal Hunt Cup is a race caller’s nightmare with up to 30 horses, usually splitting into two groups. But your chance of a nice payout is very good — the favorite locally was at 8-1 on Monday.

As TwinSpires’ mutuel system is set up for a maximum of 24 runners, horses #24-#33 are all treated as one entry, like the “all others” options in the Kentucky Derby future wager. The saddlecloth numbering system in Britain is done by allocated weight in descending order, so the lightweights carry the #24-#33 saddlecloths.

Despite this, exotics such as trifectas, exactas, and omnis are available.

Often with British handicaps, the best option is to look for a young horse on the way up that may not yet be rated to its best ability. That’s what happened last year, when Godolphin’s Real World came into the race with just one turf race in his career and having spent the previous winter running on dirt in Dubai. He won easily and has continued to excel on turf, beaten only by superstar Baaeed on that surface.

Another Godolphin runner with similar credentials fits that bill here — #15 Desert Peace. An American-bred by Curlin out of a Flatter mare, you’d think his best surface would be dirt, and he’s raced much of his career on that surface. His only run on turf actually came at Belmont, where he finished second in an allowance over 1 1/8 miles.

So far his dirt form has been solid, and the fact he’s shown he can run on turf suggests he’s worth a good look at 20-1.

Real World was part of the mutuel entry last year, which still went off at 12-1 on TwinSpires despite covering at least seven horses. This year the odds for entry #24 may be shorter as several well-regarded chances carry high saddlecloths, among them Legend of Dubai, Totally Charming, and Dark Shift. But though value may not be great, you definitely can’t leave this entry out of exotics.

Last year’s runner-up #9 Astro King is back; his only race this campaign was a modest ninth, though he was only 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner and might well improve again. Topweight #1 Magical Morning also looks a good chance, despite having to carry 141 pounds; he handled 132 with aplomb when winning last start at Doncaster. I will also include #6 Symbolize, who has run well several times at Ascot before.

My main outsider will be #20 Excel Power. He had won three in a row before finishing a slightly disappointing seventh to Totally Charming at Epsom. However, that course can be very tricky, and back to a more conventional track without the severe downhill slopes at Epsom, I’m going to take him to return to form here.

  • $10 win/place: #15 Desert Peace
  • $10 place: #20 Excel Power
  • $1 trifecta: 15, 24 with 1, 9, 15, 24 with 1, 6, 9, 15, 20, 24