Trends Analysis: Ascot Stakes Handicap

Simon Rowlands fancies Aidan O'Brien's Marchese Marconi

Having provided some big-priced winners in recent years, Simon Rowlands returns with his unique brand of 'Trends Analysis'...

Stick with Marchese Marconi, a lightly-weighted four-year-old, drawn nine but unraced over jumps. He is unraced at beyond a mile and three quarters but is from the family of the Gold Cup winner Gildoran... 

It started almost as a bit of fun, a couple of years ago. I was asked: "if you think most existing trends analysis is rubbish, why don't you have a go yourself at Royal Ascot in 2011?" I accepted the challenge in the belief that it would show up trends analysis for what it often is - superficial, of dubious logic and of little practical use - and hopefully not show me up too much in the process. 

Following a clutch of winners in the first year, including Julienas ante-post at 34.0 in the Royal Hunt Cup, and a couple more last year, including Prince of Johanne in the same race at 21.18 BSP, I have not only had something of a rethink but seem to have landed the job for life. Or at least until I get whitewashed this year, which must be a distinct possibility after the above introduction.
 
First up, is the Ascot Stakes on the Tuesday of the Royal meeting, a nice, easy 20-runner handicap that should be a cinch to crack. 

The trends I looked at - mostly as they are the trends that had stood me in good stead previously - were: age; handicap mark; draw (yes, even in a race at two and a half miles in such a big field); and whether the horse had run over jumps previously. The time period I favoured was 2006 (the first year of the newly relaid course) and onwards. And the measure I favoured was average lengths beaten, limited to three times the race distance in furlongs, then converted into approximate pounds.

Age was seemingly the most significant of these factors, with youth winning out over maturity, as it so often does in life as well as in racing. Only two of the last seven winners of the Ascot Stakes have been four-year-olds, but that age-group has collectively performed 4.3 lb better than par. Three five-year-olds have won in that time, but their over-performance is a more modest 1.7 lb. In general, things get tougher as horses get older.
 
This year's minimum handicap mark of 86 is the joint-highest since 2005. Splitting the sample into horses rated over 90 and up to and including 90 showed an advantage of 5.8 lb for the latter group over the former: lower marks have been better in recent years

The draw does not have a great effect, but those drawn low (or the equivalent of low before renumbering took place early in 2011) have under-performed, not that surprisingly given that there is a tendency for them to be shuffled back as horses come across from outside. 

Horses that have experience over jumps have fared about 1.6 lb better than those that have not, presumably down to a combination of their greater experience in the hurly-burly of competition and a number of them being better than their Flat form alone suggests. 

Putting all these figures together came up with the following top three: Marchese Marconi +8.3 lb; Mawaqeet +7.1 lb; and Mysterious Man +7.1 lb. Mmmmm, that's a lot of "Ms" and would make for a tasty tricast.

Rather than being that greedy, stick with Marchese Marconi, a lightly-weighted four-year-old, drawn nine but unraced over jumps. He is unraced at beyond a mile and three quarters but is from the family of the Gold Cup winner Gildoran. 

If it does not pay off, then remember that Royal Ascot is a marathon, not a sprint: literally, in the case of this particular contest. 

Recommendation:
1 pt win Marchese Marconi.  

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