horse racing fort bastion

Royal Hunt Cup – Another Win For Fort Bastion?

Royal Hunt Cup

Outright Betting

For those who like nothing more than to find a big-priced winner of a juicy handicap, then Wednesday’s Royal Hunt Cup (5.00) provides such an opportunity.

With 33 runners facing the line-up, some handy trends could help whittle the field down to a manageable short-list – for instance, of the last 18 Royal Hunt Cup winners, each carried 9st 5lb or lighter. Add to that the fact 17 had a maximum of five outings that season, 17 won a maximum of three handicaps and 16 were 4-5yo’s, and several names start to emerge.

One of those on the short-list is the current 5/1 favourite, Abseil, who earns his place in the line-up having won a valuable handicap at Epsom recently (Red Avenger almost 2l back in third). Sir Michael Stoute’s 4yo was undoubtedly impressive that day, but the 5lb penalty he receives to make the cut here may be a negative based on recent history, as only one of 34 penalty carriers in this race triumphed since 1997.

That statistic is certainly one to bear in mind, as it also applies to the likes of Farraaj (12/1), Sea Shanty (16/1) and Pacific Heights (25/1). With that in mind, backers may want to look elsewhere for some each-way value, such as Ralph Beckett’s, Niceofyoutotellme (16/1).

This 5yo won his third handicap on his reappearance over the Cambridgeshire trip of 1m1f at Newmarket last month (good to firm) and has been put away for this since. The step back to this testing mile should be fine as Niceofyoutotellme was in front at the furlong marker that day and is open to improvement.

Another with a likeable profile is Fort Bastion (25/1).

Ruth Carr’s 5yo already won a Hunt Cup this season at Thirsk (1m, good)

before an excellent second in the Listed Hambleton handicap at York (1m, soft) – a race that has been a good pointer for Royal Ascot. He was just pipped on the line that day (ground softer than ideal, as it was at Nottingham last time), but will enjoy the return to this faster surface.

Prince Of Johanne (25/1) was third on that occasion at York and is weighted to co close once more in this race which he won two years ago (unplaced last year).

Others fancied in the market are William Haggas’ Queensbury Rules (14/1) with Ryan Moore booked, though he hasn’t raced this season, along with Andrew Balding’s Stirring Ballad (16/1), and the fact 17 of the last 18 Royal Hunt Cup winners raced during the previous season is a concern for the aforementioned pair.

Chill The Kite (16/1) won a nice handicap last time over 7f, but has 9st9lb, while Here Comes When (14/1) also won a quality handicap at Chester last month, but has 9st6lb to shoulder.

With the weight stat proving a reliable pointer down the years, it could pay to split stakes between Fort Bastion and Niceofyoutotellme, who are both improving handicappers from the bottom half of the weights.

Here are the full trends covering the last 18 years…

All 18 winners carried 9st 5lb or lighter.
17 raced during the past two months – 12 finished in the top two at least that season. A run in the Lincoln, Spring Cup, Victoria Cup or the Hambleton handicaps was also a bonus.
17 had a maximum of five outings that season.
17 won a maximum of three handicaps.
16 were 4-5yo’s.
15 had a maximum of 20 career runs.
15 were drawn in stalls 1-11, or 23 plus; those drawn in 12-22 were 2-158 (1%).
15 won in Class 3 or higher.
15 were officially rated 92 or higher, all of whom came since 1999.
15 won over 1m.
Those carrying a penalty returned a record of just 1-34.
James Fanshawe trained two winners from just a handful of runners.