This week is Royal Ascot, and for the first time in its history it will be racing without any live spectators.
We’re still in semi-lockdown, the races are going to be competitive, and we’ve got a week of excitement and fun ahead of us.
In this post I’m going to analyse the biggest race on the first day of the festival… the King’s Stand Stakes. I’d love to hear who you’re going to be betting on in the comments below.
If you’d like to know how I approach betting at horse racing festivals, and why it’s different to normal, then you can read it here.
WHY THE KING’S STAND STAKES HORSE RACE IS IMPORTANT
This race was created because of bad weather at Royal Ascot in 1860.
The heavy rain made it impossible to run the Royal Stand Plate over its usual distance of 2 miles, so it was shortened to 5 furlongs. The only five furlongs of raceable ground on the course!
This amended version of the race became known as the Queen’s Stand Plate, and it late became the most important sprint at the Royal meeting.
It was renamed to the King’s Stand Stakes following the death of Queen Victoria and the accession of King Edward VII in 1901.
THE KING’S STAND STAKES ANALYSED
In any big event the first task we have is to slim down the number of possible horses in a race.
There are eleven runners declared for this race, and we can immediately reduce this to just four runners.
By removing any horse that has odds of higher than 29/1.
Of course, it’s still possible that the runner may come from one of the horses we’ve removed.
But the chances are significantly slimmer, and we’ve just reduced the field by 64% in a couple of seconds.
There’s always the balance of time and risk when analysing a race, and generally, for me, horses at odds of 29/1 or higher don’t win often enough for me to focus on.
The four runners that we’re left with are Battash, Equilateral, Glass Slippers and Liberty Beach.
A QUICK STRENGTH TEST
With our four runners we are going to do a quick strength test. This test will show us the most likely order of strength in those four runners, and with it the most likely order of contending.
There are a few ways we can do this.
Let’s look at our AI compiled probabilities for each of the horses winning.
You’ll notice that I’ve not actually eliminated all the runners with odds over 29/1 from the race card, instead I’ve highlighted the four strongest. I’ll explain why in a moment!
To get the details above, simply click on any horses PR Odds column on your race card.
Doing this puts an overlay of all the components that go into our PR Odds score. You’ll always know when you’re looking at an overlay as the headers will be in orange instead of black.
Then sort the race card by the Probability column, and you can see above that Battash has the highest probability from those four runners by a long way.
Before we merge this with the live market, we’re giving him a 25.81% chance of winning the race.
Shades Of Blue is the next strongest from the four runners, with a 6.48% chance of winning the race.
However, you’ll notice that our AI doesn’t think this race is going to be as cut and dry as the current market odds say it will.
I’m writing this post on Sunday, which means that there’s a lot of time for the market to still move, and so it’s likely that a number of the runners hovering just above 29/1 will move. That’s the reason I decided not to eliminate those runners, but instead highlighted the strongest ones in the market. It allows me to see if there are any others which also look strong.
I tend to do this when looking at a race a day or two in advance, because the markets are properly formed, and they can move dramatically.
Looking at all the runners, Battash is still by far the strongest, but there’s not a huge amount between the other runners in the race. By which I mean there’s no other big drop between horses probability of winning, it a smooth drop.
We’re going to use a Monte Carlo simulation to determine the strongest horses in the race. The results of this simulation look like this…
As you can see in the image above, Battash is the top scoring horse, but Liberty Beach is very close.
This order matches the exact same as we got from our previous method, and the other two runners currently at odds of less than 29/1 are expected to be in the middle to the bottom of the contenders.
Of course, we won’t always get it right from these two methods, but they’re a strong starting point.
WHAT WE NOW KNOW
Using two different “quick strength tests” we’ve discovered that the strongest horses look to be Battash and Liberty Beach.
There’s nothing stand-out so far in the other two runners that were shortlisted at the beginning.
However, it does look like some of the other runners in the race have potential, so let’s take it a bit further…
TAKING IT FURTHER
There’s a myriad of ways that we could delve into this race further, but the one I’m going to choose is to look at speed graphs.
Because this is a five furlong sprint race, and speed is going to be everything.
Here’s what that graph looks like for similar races. I’ve considered similar races as flat turf races, up to 5 furlongs 300 yards, on good or good to soft ground.
If you’re thinking that this looks like a lot of pretty lines, then you’re right. But let’s look a bit deeper.
On the right-hand side you’ll see the horse names, and next to each name is a number in a bracket.
This little number is incredibly powerful, because it tells us the horse’s average speed over the conditions we’ve set in our dynamic filter.
In this race we can see that Battash has the fastest average speed over similar conditions, but Tis Marvellous isn’t very far behind. Liberty Beach is the next best, before a bigger jump down to Glass Slippers.
Importantly, there are only two horses which look like serious contenders, and you can see this clearly on the graphs if I remove all the other runners except the four original contenders and Tis Marvellous.
In the above image you can immediately see that there’s a concern with Liberty Beach in the dark red. This horse had a small improvement in performance last year, and then dropped right down. But even the small improvement wasn’t getting anywhere near Battash or Tis Marvellous.
Battash, in the dark orange, has a consistent improvement over these conditions.
Tis Marvellous, in the light orange, saw a small dip back in 2018, but could be on a par with Battash.
SO WHERE THE HECK DOES THIS LEAVE US?
What started off looking like a relatively simple race to analyse, has become far more complex.
We still have Battash as one of the strongest contenders, but we can no longer exclude Tis Marvellous from having possibilities, and while a lot more doubtful, there’s an edge to Liberty Beach. Although my opinion on Liberty Beach is that threat is now severely reduced.
From here we could go yet deeper by looking into horse histories, taking into account race cards and ratings, and considering pace.
In a 5 furlong race pace is always worth considering, and even more so in a race that looks to be complex.
I’ve highlighted the horses and Total Pace score above in this way for a reason.
The two strongest horses look to be Battash and Tis Marvellous.
This race is predicted to be run at a true pace, which means that we can expect the winner to come from a leader or early presser type horse.
In the current field, you can see that Tis Marvellous (and Liberty Beach) look to be in the early presser to mid-field group, but Battash is definitely in the closing group.
As I’ve said before, this doesn’t mean he won’t win, and it doesn’t mean a closing type horse can’t win a truly run race. It just makes the challenge a little bit harder for him.
One last check I would like to do, which I recommend you do on all races, is to see how a horse has performed in similar races in the past, by looking at their race history.
Doing this we can see that there is concerns for Tis Marvellous over the slightly softer ground, concerns that neither Battash or Liberty Beach have.
HERE’S HOW I’M GOING TO BET
These are the current odds as I write this article:
Battash is currently sitting at odds of 1.80, which is far too low for me. I certainly don’t think he should be an odds-on shot in this race.
That means I’m left with Liberty Beach and Tis Marvellous, although the concern over the softer ground with Tis Marvellous is there.
Here are the ways I would consider betting this race:
- A lay bet on Battash
- A win bet on Liberty Beach
- An 80/20 bet on Liberty Beach
- A place bet on Tis Marvellous in the extra places market
Or, of course, a combination of all the above.
If this wasn’t a festival, then the most obvious bet would be the lay bet on Battash, because his odds are clearly too short.
However, it is a festival, and we’re betting in races we may not otherwise bet in, and are following the short term approach to staking. This makes the lay bet less appealing because Battash has a very strong chance of winning, and we’re not going to be betting on enough races to gain the odds based advantage.
With that in mind, my preference is going to be for an 80/20 bet on Liberty Beach and an extra places bet on Tis Marvellous, if the odds make sense for it when the place markets become available.
This is a tough race, and in normal circumstances would be one I’d skip. I think Battash is most likely to win this race, but the odds don’t personally make sense for me to bet on him.
Liberty Beach is going to struggle to win, unless Battash gets stuck in the rear and can’t get to the front. However, there is definitely place potential with a chance of the win in specific situations.
Tis Marvellous would be a potential threat to Battash, if the ground wasn’t good to soft. From the time of me writing this, on Sunday night, to the day of racing, it may be that the ground has changed conditions. If this is the case, and the ground firms up, then I’d be considering Tis Marvellous as an 80/20 bet as well.
How are you going to be betting in this race? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
If you want access to the ratings and software that I used to do this analysis, create your account here.