In his latest antepost column on the big flat races of the summer, Will Hoffmann previews the Queen Anne Stakes and dives a bit deeper into antepost getting generally.
"His win on Lockinge day best showcased his stamina at this trip - he stays further, having won over a stiff 10-furlongs at Sandown - with Crowley asking for his effort a long way from home. He gave generously though, and picked up quite well; well enough that he was in front at the seven-furlong mark and never going to be caught from that point."
Sportsbook's 5/1 on Mustashry looks generous
Most of these articles have meandered their way through every main contender before landing on a selection but - in the name of brevity, as well as the fact I generally don't have much to say about most of these - I'm going to shake things up and lead from the front.
I like Mustashry in the Queen Anne Stakes.
I said in one of these articles a few weeks ago that the Lockinge was far from a vintage renewal and I suspect I'll be proved right, at least from a strengh-in-depth point of view. All that said, Mustashry was actually an above average winner (the second best in the last five renewals, according to Timeform) and he was in complete control at the line.
A classic Michael Stoute type, he's improved steadily season-on-season. Starting as a back-end two year old, improving into a Group three performer at four, a Group two performer at five and finally a Group one winner at six. You have to admire his consistency. Most horses don't improve from five to six, of course, but like Zabeel Prince (who I tipped for the Lockinge) Mustashry has, particularly as it became clear that he was pattern class, received the kind of sympathetic campaign which has allowed him time to grow and develop.
His win on Lockinge day best showcased his stamina at this trip - he stays further, having won over a stiff 10-furlongs at Sandown - with Crowley asking for his effort a long way from home. He gave generously though, and picked up quite well; well enough that he was in front at the seven-furlong mark and never going to be caught from that point.
With stamina his strong-suit, and tactical speed his weakness, he's going to be somewhat vulnerable to the vagaries of the pace of the race. The strong gallop in the Lockinge was necessary to his success and, if they were to crawl and sprint, I'd be doubtful that he'd have the requisite gears to win. The question therefore has to be, how likely are they to go steady? The last three renewals have featured finishing speeds of 102.3%, 98.2% and 98.7% respectively which, in simple terms, suggests anywhere between good and strong paces in each. Of course, past races alone don't act as a guide to future ones but, given most of these would benefit from a decent gallop, I think it unlikely we get anything other than reasonable pace.
This is a betting game, however and, even where you're framing a race around a single selection as we are here, you have to have a firm idea of horse's true price as well as the prices of others likely to turn up. I sketched out some guide prices for those likely to turn up and settled on a price of between 5/2 and 11/4 for Mustashry. Now, I have to factor in that fact (1) this is antepost, and there's a (slight) possibility Mustashry doesn't show up as well as (2) that I only priced up the likely contenders, and it's possible connections of probable non-runners make a last minute u-turn.
Even so, if were a bookmaker, I wouldn't have priced Mustashry up at anything larger than 7/2 so, with 5/1 readily available on the Sportsbook, that level of edge is certainly sufficient to recommend him as a bet here.
Use the Exchange as your guide
I promised you I didn't have much to say about the other contenders and I'll (mostly) keep my promise. What I will say, and this is a more general rule for antepost betting, is to use Betfair's Exchange to your advantage when pricing up an antepost race. There are a couple of reasons for his, and they interlink. The first is, in theory at least, that the Exchange is an efficient marketplace where the "correct" price is being displayed, based on the information currently available.
As such, if you're seeing a discrepancy between the price between the Sportsbook and the Exchange, you have to ask yourself 'why'? I've long been a Zabeel Prince fan and, on the assumption he was going to turn up here, would have priced him at 11/2 rather than the 8/1 currently available on the Sportsbook. That's a bet surely? Well, a quick look at the exchange told me that 13.5 is the last price traded which, in an antepost market like this, is an indication that there's a reasonable chance that this isn't a definite target for him.
You have to accept that racing is a sport where connections often keep their counsel, particularly as to targets, and those people will always know more than you.
Respect the markets!