Simon Rowlands has identified two bets in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot...
Enrol (drawn 1) and Shamaal Nibras (drawn 24) are with trainers in very good form, and backing them both will mean punters have one contender on either side of the track...
The perils of making assumptions about the draw based on the past was driven home on Wednesday, when the Royal Hunt Cup over Ascot's straight mile saw lowly-drawn horses do best, the opposite of what had tended to be the case in recent years. Then again, the race also illustrated that a draw bias need only be perceived in order to influence a result, as a handful of jockeys - notably Richard Hughes on co-favourite Stirring Ballad - switched their mounts from low stalls to race with the high-numbered group with adverse consequences.
Any perception of a bias is likely to have disappeared pretty hastily, but the distribution of pace, not to mention subtle differences in ground conditions, could still play its part in Friday's big straight-course handicap, The Buckingham Palace Stakes, due off at 17:35 GMT. As a result, it may be unwise to put all your eggs in one basket in this 29-runner contest.
Unfortunately, "trends" (or the ones I looked at, anyway) do not give much of a steer as to how to find the needle/winner in the haystack/cavalry charge. I looked at: age; handicap mark; number of runs in current season; and last-time position. Each was measured by average lengths beaten in the last seven years, and there were no real standout findings.
Horses over the age of seven have fared poorly, with ages five to seven best, but only by about a length. Horses with handicap marks of 95 or less have outperformed those of 96 or more, but by an even smaller amount.
Looking at number of runs in current year, number of wins and last-time position, it was striking how uncompetitive (by Royal Ascot standards) the Buckingham Palace sometimes is. Over 60% of runners in the last seven editions had not won in the current year, this despite the average number of current-year runs being well over three.
Horses with between two and four starts in the current year have fared best, just, while a win in the current year came out as a positive, but a minuscule one. Last-time position was more interesting, with last-time winners underperforming slightly but last-time placed horses having fared better.
After crunching the numbers, the top four contenders on "trends" were: Democretes, Enrol, Yair Hill and Shamaal Nibras. If I had maximum belief in "the process" then I would put them up in that order, but I am going to allow a bit of subjectivity and select two from that quartet.
Enrol (drawn 1) and Shamaal Nibras (drawn 24) are with trainers in very good form, and backing them both will mean punters have one contender on either side of the track. Enrol's handler, Sir Michael Stoute, needs no introduction, but Shamaal Nibras' may do.
Ismail Mohammed has done astonishingly well this year with a small string, recording 13 wins from 28 runs. Shamaal Nibras will be having just his second run for him, having finished a creditable second at a mile last time. A return to seven furlongs on a stiff track won't hurt, and nor will some of the forecast rain.