Royal Ascot Handicaps 2022: Ascot Stakes
There are plenty of outstanding racehorses at Royal Ascot. But the greatest betting opportunities come in the rich handicaps. Usually there are large fields, and it’s rare to find a short-priced favorite. So if your assessment of the race is right, you can get great odds and be extremely well-rewarded.
The first of the big handicaps at Royal Ascot is also the longest. Run over 2 1/2 miles, the Ascot Stakes is highly competitive, and it’s a rare race at the Royal meet, which features horses and trainers better known for their efforts in National Hunt racing.
This year is no exception. The two early favorites, #8 Pied Piper and #13 Bring On The Night, are from the two biggest jumps stables in Ireland — Pied Piper from the Gordon Elliott barn, and Bring On The Night from that of Willie Mullins, who has won four of the last 10 editions of this race.
Both last raced over hurdles; Pied Piper was one of the best juvenile hurdlers of the last season, winning at Grade 2 level and being placed at Grade 1 level at Cheltenham and Aintree, while Bring On The Night wasn’t far behind him in form, finishing fourth in the Supreme Novices Hurdle (G1) at Cheltenham.
Pied Piper and Bring On The Night were also both capable horses on the flat, Pied Piper from the John and Thady Gosden stable and Bring On The Night for Andre Fabre in France. They should go well.
However, the best form race for this is probably the 2 1/4-mile Chester Cup on May 6. The winner Cleveland isn’t here (he’s in the 1 3/4-mile Copper Horse Stakes later in the day with a huge chance), but runner-up #3 Coltrane and fourth-placed #4 Arcadian Sunrise are running.
Arcadian Sunrise is three pounds better at the weights with Coltrane than he was at Chester. However, Coltrane showed good speed that day, and it required a very good effort from Cleveland under a great Ryan Moore ride to deny Coltrane that day, and he looks the type to go on with it here.
Among the potential longer shots, I have some time for #2 Rock Eagle. He was showing very good form in 2020, but after finishing second on the Lingfield all-weather on April 2 last year, he wasn’t seen on course for 421 days. On his return, he finished sixth at Haydock May 28, and he should have come on for the race.
I also believe #18 Make My Day is set to run a strong race. Like many others in this race, he’s been mixing hurdles and flat racing. After three very nice runs over hurdles in February and March, he returned to the flat and finished second at Ascot and Goodwood, both over two miles. He looks likely to stay the extra half-mile and is well down in the weights.
There are plenty of other chances, including the consistent #12 Golden Flame, last year’s 66-1 winner #6 Reshoun, and the Gosdens’ #7 Marshall Plan, who has Frankie Dettori up. They should be considered at least for exotics.