An early theme developing on Day 1 of Royal Ascot is the short priced favourites who bid for glory early in the day.
A short price can still be a value bet if the likelihood of winning is high; here we assess the opening race and short priced favourite Animal Kingdom. Back or lay?
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Animal Kingdom, the 5 year old horse trained in America by Graham Motion, is the horse that will kick us all off in a positive frame of mind for the week at Royal Ascot. He has only finished out of the top 2 on one occasion where he finished 6th (over 12 furlongs in the Belmont Stakes 2011). Since June 11th 2011, he has raced 4 times with his form reading 1221. The last being a fairly comprehensive win in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan. It was only 8 months ago that he finished in front of a horse that many British flat racing fans will be familiar with, Excelebration. When storming home to come 2nd in the Breeders Cup mile behind Wise Dan (Grade 1 in America) he got the better of the Ballydoyle runner, who had regularly chased Frankel’s shadow during the season to credit, finishing a length ahead of him. Excelebration came 2nd four times to Frankel and has won Group 1’s himself so this form is exceptional in comparison to his likely opponents.
With Farhh in the race, he was priced as a general 3/1 chance. Incidentally, I also thought this to be a big price even with the Godolphin owned thoroughbred lining up. Now that he has been pulled out, it looks likely that this is Animal Kingdom vs the field. As a punter, we must always account for “one from the field” – as we know, every horse can lose on the day! So let’s say there is one from the field likely to pose a threat and see if Animal Kingdom is still backable?
The field is not strong and lacks strength in depth; the market is telling us this with the 2nd fav priced at 9/1 and the next two in the betting 12/1 and 16/1. It’s worrying to be so bullish about a horse’s chances but with him galloping well around Ascot and the positive noises being made by connections, I think this is horse that the layers will be afraid of. If you do fancy him for the opening race next week, I’d advise backing as soon as possible as I could quite easily see the Starting Price being somewhere around the 4/6 or 1/2 mark. Yes he has to prove his suitability to the track and the straight mile, but even close to his best may well be good enough.
In summary…this is one for the punter’s and hopefully we can start the week with some good fortune!
BACK ANIMAL KINGDOM AT 5/6 (with Sky Bet)
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