Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot Tips for Tuesday: Tony Calvin's best bets for Day One

Betfair tipster Tony Calvin
Tony Calvin brings us his best bets for day one at Royal Ascot

We begin a top class week of horse racing with the first day of Royal Ascot on Tuesday, and here with his full analysis of each race and best bets for the afternoon is our resident tipster Tony Calvin...

Day One Royal Ascot 2024 Superboost

2024 Royal Ascot is finally here! And with Betfair we have some great value on offer for the opening day on Tuesday!

Betfair ambassador Ryan Moore has a great chance on Henry Longfellow in the St James's Palace Stakes at 16:25 today, and if you fancy the horse to run well you can back it at the super-boosted price of 1/12.00 from 1/41.25 to finish in the top four today.

We look set fair for fast ground for the start of Royal Ascot - it is currently good to firm, good in places, with a predominantly dry forecast, until Thursday at least - and that is very welcome news for punters.

Bettors want uniformity of ground, so hopefully any watering is kept to an absolute minimum. It sounds as if 5mm will be put on the straight track, and 3mm on the round course, on Monday.

I'd rather there was none, but there you go.

As for the draw, it is basically a guessing game at this stage - and it doesn't get any easier throughout the meeting when jockeys react (or rather don't) to supposed track biases - but you can only do your pace maps (see below) and hope for the best.

Before I crack on in chronological order, one over-arching betting thought.

It is a long five days, so pace yourself.

I know it is tempting to have an interest in every race - and then boast about a winner to your mates, while ignoring the losers, which is the height of denial - but lazy bets are more likely to be losing ones.

Oh, on a related them, please check out the lists of balloted horses below. Ante-post punters are entitled to their money back on all of them.

Royal Ascot - 14:30: Back Maljoom

Anyway, pious preamble completed (though it genuinely has a serious undertone), let's get stuck into the Queen Anne at 14:30.

The Betfair Sportsbook are paying four places in this 14-runner race and I suspect that each-way punters will need all of them.

Sure, a massive 19lb spans the highest and lowest-rated horses (Big Rock and Docklands are rated 127 and 108 respectively), but the latter is only a 12s chance with the Sportsbook, and last year's Britannia winner is no forlorn hope.

This is one tricky race to kick off with.

Big Rock, a 4/15.00 chance - he has shortened in from 5s, but 11/26.50 is still out there - is the stand-out on form and on the clock on his QEII romp here on soft ground in October but he changed stables afterwards (a definite trainer downgrade) and he was one of a few to underperform in the Locking on his return, in which Audience made all to beat Charyn and Witch Hunter.

You wouldn't be at all surprised if he bounced back here, nor if Charyn of Factor Cheval at the top of the market won. They are 3/14.00 and 10/34.33 respectively, the best fixed-odds prices elsewhere,

There is plenty of pace on in here and I was most tempted by the claims of Maljoom of those in double-figures.

That said, it was disappointing to see him open up at just 10s with the Sportsbook on Sunday afternoon, when he was 14s in three places elsewhere.

I couldn't have touched him fixed-odds at 10s, when he is four points bigger elsewhere and a general 12s, but when I woke up early on Monday morning to review the copy and the prices, and to see if anything new had occurred to me, he had at least drifted to 12/113.00.

Some may argue that even 14s is too short given he is only rated 110 and he was beaten soundly beaten on his return in Listed company, but there is a strong suspicion there is a much better horse lurking within.

He was one of the unluckiest losers at the 2022 Royal meeting when fourth in the St James' Palace Stakes (round course form, I know), and he has only raced twice since.

His sole 2023 run was a blow-out but I thought he shaped much better than the bare form suggests on his return here last month - he went forward in that five-runner contest - and I don't think you will see such forcing tactics here in a bigger field (the pace map below suggests a fair bit of early speed)

The fast ground should be a big plus for him on the evidence of that run here two years ago, and the William Haggas yard is slowly returning to their usual strike-rate in recent weeks, though they are not quite there yet.

I think he is worth a small-stakes bet at 13.012/1 or bigger on the exchange. He is a point bigger there as this goes live.

This does not have the look of a good each-way betting race for me, even with that extra place - and the "fragile" Maljoom looks a win-only bet, anyway - and I'd rather take the bigger price on the exchange.

That said, any 12s or bigger will be okay - though he is still 14s in two places, so do what you have to do - so that brings in the lengthening Sportsbook price.

You just get the feeling that if one horse has a lot of improvement in him from his current level - and it is very much needed - then it is Maljoom after just six starts. He was due to run in this race last season but was withdrawn with another setback just a week before.

He may be a glass horse, but let's hope he is a class horse, too.

Royal Ascot - 15:05: No Bet

The Sportsbook are also paying four places in the 23-runner Coventry Stakes at 15:05 but I 'd probably need a couple more to tempt me in for an each-way bet in a race of this nature.

It's a toss-up if you are drawn in the right place here for starters - and the pace-maps are obviously hard to call given the lightly-raced profile of the runners - and then you have to have a crystal ball to gauge which are going to make the biggest strides forward on the limited evidence.

Only two of the 23 have run more than twice, and seven are once-raced winners. And the sole newcomer in here cost a million euros - yes, you read that right, what utter madness lies within this sport - at the Argana breeze-ups last month.

Of course, the times give you clues as to which are the best, as it stands, and then you have hugely promising types like the 4/15.00 favourite Cowardofthecountry, who we haven't seen since beating the short-priced Norfolk favourite Whistlejacket at the Curragh on testing ground in April. His stable could be in much better form though, even if they had a short-priced winner yesterday.

I just think this is a bit of nightmare to solve, but if you want a small interest then The Actor clocked a decent time when winning a seven-runner race over 5f at Newmarket, in a manner which suggested this extra furlong will very much suit, in keeping with his pedigree.

In addition, the third Al Qudra, fourth Mr Chaplin, sixth Symbol Of Honour - all of those three are also in here - and seventh also won next time out (the second has not been seen since),

He is 12s with the Sportsbook, and that is a fair enough win-only price, though he is bigger on the exchange. I've had a few quid on him win-only there at an average of just shy of 16.015/1, but it is not a strong enough lean to put up as a tip.

Royal Ascot - 15:45: Believing advised antepost

In the King Charles III Stakes at 15:45, I put up Believing at 16/117.00 win-only ante-post last week, and I was slightly disappointed to see her drawn 1 of 17 on the far side, as you are pretty much all-in from extreme berths.

On the plus side, she has Big Evs relatively nearby in six, with other possible pace angles Crimson Advocate in two and Diligent Harry (a shortener in the last 24 hours) in seven, so hopefully she will be okay.

The case that I made for her last week obviously stands, though I see no need to press up at a mere 7s with the Sportsbook now (two points bigger on the exchange), with the numbers holding up very well.

She comes into the race on the back of a career-best success at Haydock, and she handles fast ground well, it seems.

Sure, that Haydock win was only a Listed race but she fairly bolted up, and that looked an improvement on her narrow neck and ½-length third to Regional in the Group 1 Betfair Sprint Cup last season.

Believing undeniably has a hit-and-miss profile and she has to back up quickly here, However, she has successfully won in an eight-day turnaround span before, and hopefully she is as good as she looked last time, admittedly in a race in which you can pick holes. Trainer George Boughey continues in great form, and hopefully she will give us a good spin.

I am not inclined to go in with a fresh bet here, as it looks devilishly hard.

Twilight Calls, second and fourth in the last two renewals, has an obvious each way chance at 10s after a very promising return, but there are two downsides with him. The most obvious is that he often ruins his winning chance with very tardy starts (as he did on his reappearance at Newmarket), and the other is the form of the Henry Candy yard.

It is 0 from 30 in 2024, and that has to be a worry for his backers. A few have run well of late in defeat, but Candy obviously won't be happy with his winless streak going back to November, even if he has had very few runners.

Royal Ascot - 16:25: No Bet

The first four races of the meeting may be mustard, and the St James' Palace Stakes at 16:25 is red-hot, but class doesn't always translate to good betting heats.

For example, I thought Darlinghurst, Alyanaabi and Unquestionable were attractively priced if shopping around - you could snaffle them at 16s, 16s and 33s respectively - but then you see three Guineas winners ahead of them in the betting, as well as Henry Longfellow.

And then there is impressive Sandown scorer Almaqam to contend with, as well as the prospect of one non-runner - and on quickening ground, we may get a few withdrawals on the opening day - scuppering the three places for each-way punters.

Rarely do you see a horse of the class as Unquestionable being a 33s outsider in a field of eight. Just a length behind Rosalliion in the Lagardere, he won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf on firm ground just two starts ago, and then was thought to be badly in need of the run when fourth to Rosallion in the Irish Guineas on his return.

I was going to risk him at the price, but I thought there was a strong suspicion that he could be in here as a pacemaker, due to the absence of a confirmed front-runner, as ludicrous as that sounds about a Group 1 winner.

Perhaps Alyanaabi is another forward-goer in here, and he'd be my second choice at 16s.

I suppose Unquestionable, top-priced 33s with the Sportsbook, could be a hard horse to peg back if allowed a front rein from stall three - and he did make all to win his maiden - but I just had too many doubts about the race, not least the ridiculous depth in the race.

One to savour, without the coin needing to be dropped in the betting slot, though the 33s Unquestionable is my idea of the bet in the race if there is one.

Royal Ascot - 17:05: Back The Grand Visir & Zanndabad

We have a full field of 20 for the 2m4f Ascot Stakes handicap at 17:05 - by the way, once again, please check out the balloted-out horses in the final three contests on the card below - a race in which the Sportsbook don't want to have anything do with My Lyka, representing the Willie Mullins-Ryan Moore combo who have won this handicap three times, going 7/24.50 when he is as big as 5s elsewhere.

They are paying a very healthy six places, mind you.

It's basically a guess-up with this horse, but I suppose Mullins is a master when it comes to staying races at this meeting - as Betfair ambassador Ryan Moore acknowledges in this column - so you can understand the general caution. Outside of the trainer angle though, it is impossible to make a persuasive case for him, even at the top prices in the marketplace.

I'm not sure how many of these will enjoy the quick ground (unless they get overly-jiggy with the watering can), and I am also uncertain just how strong a race this is.

Zanndabad has an obvious chance after his luckless third in the Chester Cup - you just have to assume he is still being trained by the banned Tony Martin, and everyone knows it, which makes a mockery of the whole system - but it is arguable just much juice there is in his Sportsbook price of 5s, though it'll shock no-one if he copped and he probably should be the favourite in here. Perhaps more of him in a moment.

I have to be primarily driven by prices though and, of the outsiders, I narrowed this down to four: Kyle Of Lochalsh, Temporize, The Grand Visir and Tenerife Sunshine.

I loved the way the first-named ground it out at Salisbury last time but I suspect connections would rather be going for the 1m6f Copper Horse Handicap at the end of the card (for which he is second reserve), given he is unproven beyond that trip. His one run over 2m was poor.

Temporize is a guaranteed stayer who ran well on his return, and it is possible that Tenerife Sunshine will go up by as much as his 5lb penalty when re-assessed, as he beat a well-handicapped horse by 1 ½ lengths at Goodwood last time, and they pulled a further 6 lengths clear of the third.

But I kept on coming back to The Grand Visir. He is just 28s with the Sportsbook, and 40s (huge) and 33s elsewhere - that closes down that avenue - so I suggest you back him win-only at 34.033/1 or bigger on the exchange.

That should be easily attainable on the day - indeed he is available at 44.043/1 as this goes live - as he is hardly sexy, being the old man of the party at 10 years old along with The Very Man, but hopefully he is an ageing lothario with one final potent thrust in him.

His Royal Ascot CV is pretty impressive.

He won this race off a 13lb higher mark in 2019, and finished placed in the Queen Alexandra Stakes in 2020, 2021 and 2023.

And, when doubling up in this race last year (well this was his opening outing), he got no sort of run, when beaten 5 lengths. He would have finished a lot, lot closer with a clean go at it.

He ran perfectly well when beaten under 6 lengths in the Chester Cup on his return, and he was dropped 2lb to a mark of 87 afterwards. This will presumably have been the plan for him.

That is his lowest mark since 2017 (he has been as high as 106 in his pomp) and I really don't think he is anywhere near a back number off that rating in what appears a very winnable handicap.

His draw in 17 may not be ideal but that is not putting me off at the price, and for what it is worth he was drawn 18 when successful in 2019. If he drifts to 33s or bigger on the Sportsbook, then I will back him each way, with those generous six places.

I did seriously toy with putting up Zanndabad each way at [5/1], six places, as he should have won the Chester Cup on officially good to firm ground and he is only 2lb higher here. He also had a sighter at the track when coming over for a spin in a maiden hurdle here in March.

The fact that he hasn't actually won since coming over from France is slightly off-putting, as is the training situation, but I don't think this race has a lot of depth to it and the case for him at the Sportsbook's price-place terms combo (the best around) is pretty powerful.

Back him at 5s each way, six places.

Royal Ascot - 17:40: Back Haunted Dream

With just 11lb separating the field on official ratings (and very condensed in the middle), the Wolferton at 17:40 is as competitive as ever, so I'd be inclined to view this as a win-only betting heat, even if we are getting four places with the Sportsbook.

I'd probably have the 4s chance Botanical as slight favourite over Israr and Torito, so impressive was he at York off a mark of 97, but I can happily leave all three of those alone at their current prices (it is 17.016/1 or bigger bar those three on the exchange).

Certain Lad and Savvy Victory initially looked big at 25s and 33s respectively but both would probably prefer more ease in the ground so, if there is a bet in the race, I thought it might be Wathnan Racing's second string (behind Torito) Haunted Dream.

He is among the lowest-rated in here off 104 but that may underestimate his neck Doha second to the 117-rated Simca Mille off levels in January and his Epsom fourth last time was full of promise. Admittedly, he was beaten just under 2 lengths off a mark of 104 but he shaped very well last time.

The fact that he didn't see out the race well is a slight concern, but the way he overcame a bad stumble at the start (and it was, as he was right down on his nose) to travel so well through the race to look the possible winner at one stage (he hit 3.02/1 in running) was the mark of a horse capable of better.

His best run last season for Ed Dunlop was a third over an extended 1m2f on fast ground at York, and I can see him going powerfully through the race from stall four, and hopefully kicking on entering the final furlong and holding on.

At 20s with the Sportsbook and 21.020/1 or bigger on the exchange, I am throwing a few quid at him. I'll put in an in-running lay on the exchange at about 2/13.00 because I do fear he is a weak finisher. I suggest you do the same if playing him on the exchange.

Royal Ascot - 18:15: No Bet

The 1m6f Copper Horse handicap at 18:15 sees another Mullins stayer heading the betting in the shape of Belloccio at 7/24.50 with the Sportsbook - five places here, by the way - and I've no real argument with his price.

He is 8lb lower than his peak rating when trained by David Menuisier and his only run for Mullins has seen him dot up in a first-time tongue-tie (retained here) in a maiden hurdle at Punchestown.

I wouldn't be in a mad rush to stand him at around 4s on the exchange, for all his previous handler avoided quick ground for him. That is the one obvious worry, even if stall 14 is perhaps not ideal.

I suppose that positive stance makes me take a tentative approach to this handicap.

The hugely progressive A Peace Of Heaven is clearly very interesting on his debut for Joseph O'Brien, but his jockey, the Monocled Mutineer (what a series that was), will be doing rather well to get this 6yo on his favoured front end from trap 18.

I'd certainly want a lot bigger than the Sportsbook's defensive 6s to get with him, but he has to be a player here all the same, along with the likes of smart hurdler Party Central and Alsakib, with Kihavah the one at a price.

Sorry, I sounded like a TV pundit there, giving all the field a chance as they go in the stalls and claiming a winner afterwards...

I decided to leave this race alone in the final analysis. As I said in my opener, it's a very long week and I suspect the shadow of Belloccio casts a fair spell over this race, quick ground or not.

An explosive start to the opening day, but slow and steady, win-only, is the opening betting ploy here.

I wish you well.


Good to firm (good in places) - forecast is dry. Watering sounds possible (5mm set to be put on the straight track, and 3mm on the round course, on Monday)

BALLOTED OUT (ante-post punters are entitled to their money back):

5.05pm: Trooper Bisdee, Alphonse Le Grande, Maxident

5.40pm: Claymore, Dunum, Mandoob, Stephensons Rocket,

6.15pm: Nothing To Sea, Marhaba The Champ, Fairbanks, Vaguely Royal, True Legend, Get Legend, Wickywickywheels, Solent Of Gateway, Tides Of War, Knightswood, Ayyab, Forza Orta, Alright Sunshine, Steam of Stars

Reserves (so highly likely to be balloted out): Bague D'Or, Kyle Of Lochalsh, Spartan Army


Kevin Ryan blinkers 19-243 (since 2010)

Ed Walker blinkers 5-66 (2015)

Archie Watson cheekpieces 23-234 (2018)

William Haggas cheekpieces 26-175 (2016)

PACE MAPS (manually done)

2.30pm : Audience, Big Rock, Dolayli, Flight Plan, Hi Royal, Royal Scotsman?

3.05pm (very little evidence to go on): Columnist, Electrolyte, Francisco's Piece, Star Anthem

3.45pm: Big Evs, Crimson Advocate, Emaraaty Ana (prominent), Regional (prom), Asfoora (prom), Diligent Harry (prom)

4.25pm: No obvious pace, perhaps Unquestionable or Alyanaabi will go on?

5.05pm : Boher Road, Divine Comedy (prom), Berkshire Rocco (prom), Pledgeofallegiance?, Nathanael Greene (prom), Lyka (prom)

5.40pm : Cemhaan, Israr (prom), Ouzo (prom), Certain Lad (prom),

6.15pm : Drawn To Dream (prom), Naqeeb (prom), Fox Journey?, Intinso?, Belloccio, A Peace Of Heaven, Beamish (prom)

TRAINER FORM - for all with entries in Tuesday's races (does not include Monday's results, but all recent runners assessed individually):

Excellent: Paul and Oliver Cole, Aidan O'Brien, Adrian Murray, Willie Mullins, William Knight, James Ferguson, George Boughey

Good: Roger Varian, Harry Eustace, Jerome Reynier, Charlie Appleby, Richard Fahey, David O'Meara (given number of runners), Jack Channon, Sean Woods, William Haggas (improving), Adrian Keatley, Ralph Beckett, Alan King, Sir Michael Stoute

Fair: Ed Walker, Karl Burke, Richard Hannon, Andrew Balding, Michael Bell, Clive Cox, Jessie Harrington, Ed Bethell, Owen Burrows (very few runners, as usual and arguably more moderate), Emma Lavelle, Hughie Morrison, Ian Williams, Charlie Johnston (getting good given the number of runners), Daniel and Claire Kubler (33-1 and 7-2 winners on Saturday), Gavin Cromwell, Dylan Cunha, Kevin Ryan (few winners recently, so maybe nearer good)

Moderate: Charles Hills, John & Thady Gosden, Maurizio Guarnieri, Archie Watson (though two recent winners), Alice Haynes (6-1 winner on Saturday), Francis-Henri Graffard, Simon and Ed Crisford (few running well of late, though, and a winner on Sunday), Dominic French-Davis, Joseph O'Brien (welcome short-priced winner on Sunday), Brian Meehan, Iain Jardine, Richard Spencer, Jamie Osborne, Tom Clover, Henry Candy (0 from 30 in 2024), Charlie Fellowes, Mick Appleby, George Scott, Gordon Elliott (8-1 and 5-4 winners yesterday, though), Emmet Mullins (arguably more fair), Jarlath Fahey, Mrs C O'Leary (Tony Martin), Henry de Bromhead (winner on Sunday), Syd Hosie (though a couple have run well), Sir Mark Prescott, Alastair Ralph, George Baker

Who knows?: Raphael Freire (former assistant to French Davis, widely rumoured to be training horses for Amo), Henry Dwyer, H Al Jehani, Mario Baratti

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Now read Ryan Moore on his Royal Ascot Day 1 rides here.

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2024 Flat season (day-of-race; Apr 26 onwards):

RETURN: 109.75
P AND L: +43.55

2023-24 NH season:

RETURN: 143.4
P/L:    +16.4

April 16-Oct 31; 2023 Flat season:

STAKED:  202
RETURNS: 168.9
P AND L:  -33.1

March 26 2022 -April 15 2023:

Staked: 436
Returns: 643.6
P/L: +207.6

April 14 2021 to March 25 2022:

P/L: + 183.1


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